A Periodic Federal Science Update

ITIF Releases Report on Investing in Innovation Infrastructure to Restore U.S. Growth – The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) released a new report on January 3, 2017 that discusses limitations of standard monetary and fiscal policy and conventional infrastructure spending to stimulate economic growth.  It then describes the potential benefits associated with increasing investments in “innovation infrastructure,” including:  research funding; advanced technology development funding; research infrastructure; “smart” infrastructure; and pre-competitive advanced manufacturing research institutes.  More information, including a copy of the report, can be found here.  Founded in 2006, ITIF is a think tank with a mission to formulate, evaluate, and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity to spur growth, opportunity, and progress. ITIF focuses on issues at the intersection of technological innovation and public policy—including in the areas of innovation and competitiveness; information technology and data; telecommunications; trade and globalization; and life sciences, agricultural biotechnology, and energy.

Council on Competitiveness Releases Competitiveness Report Card – In December, the Council on Competitiveness released a new report, Clarion Call, a competitiveness agenda for the 45th president of the United States. The Clarion Call examines U.S. performance across the pillars of talent, technology, investment and infrastructure, and grades U.S. policymakers accordingly. In 2016, as in 2015, grades were mediocre. The report says, “American productivity growth over the past several years has lagged significantly behind historical norms. In the 1990s, the annual labor productivity growth rate averaged 2.0 percent and in the 2000s the rate averaged 2.5 percent. Since 2011, annual U.S. productivity growth has averaged 0.6 percent. In the first two quarters of 2016, the productivity growth rate was negative.”  The accompanying report card grades various factors related to increasing productivity including talent, technology, investment, and infrastructure.  For example, the report card rates the investment in federal research and development as an “F” concluding that despite increasingly urgent calls to increase federal R&D investment, basic research was only .79 percent of GDP in 2014 – a 25% decline since 2003.  That percentage is expected to shrink to .76 percent by the end of 2015.  Copies of Clarion Call and the Report Card can be found here.

White House Science Office Issues Exit Memorandum – On January 5, Dr. John Holdren, the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) published an exit memorandum outlining the impact the outgoing Administration has had on strengthening the nation’s science and technology enterprise; offer an overview of frontiers that the American S&T enterprise will advance in the coming decades; and call for actions needed in the years ahead to include all Americans in driving continued innovation and progress across those frontiers.  Among the accomplishments the OSTP memo cites are:  increased science, technology, and innovation talent in the Executive Branch; strengthened scientific integrity; and enacted a significant increase in research and development.  In terms of the frontiers or exciting challenges facing the science and technology enterprise, OSTP identified some 20 areas including: developing precision medicine; investing in neuroscience and neurotechnology; building smart communities and the Internet of Things; understanding the potential of Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and big data; investing in strategic computing; and advancing climate science, information, tools, and services.

NOAA Issues Solicitation for the National Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program (BREP) -- The mission of NOAA’s BREP is to develop technological solutions and investigate changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch of fish (including sponges, deep–sea corals, and shallow (tropical) corals) and protected species (including marine mammals, sturgeon, seabirds, and sea turtles) as well as minimize mortality and injury of bycaught species (including post-release injury and mortality). Projects should produce outcomes that can directly influence management needs of federally managed living marine resources. For FY2017, NMFS anticipates that approximately $2,500,000 could be made available for projects that address bycatch research.  Proposals are due by March 31, 2017.  A copy of the funding solicitation can be found here.

USGCRP Seeks Public Input on Draft Climate Science Special Report -- The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) seeks public comment on the third-order draft of its Climate Science Special Report (CSSR). This special report provides an update to the physical climate science presented in the Third National Climate Assessment released in 2014. The draft CSSR provides updated climate science findings and projections.  The CSSR Public Comment Period runs from 15 December 2016 - 3 February 2017. The draft CSSR is also undergoing a concurrent peer review by the National Academies. A revised draft based on these reviews will undergo a final Federal interagency clearance process.  All comments must be input within the USGCRP Review and Comment System.

Department of Interior Announces Funding for Coral Reef Initiative – The Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs is requesting proposals for Fiscal Year 2017 for its Coral Reef Initiative (CRI) Program. The CRI program provides grant funding for management and protection of coral reefs in the U.S. insular areas. The goal of the CRI program is to improve the health of coral reef ecosystems in the U.S. insular areas for their long-term economic and social benefit. Proposals that support protection and sustainable use of coral reefs will be considered for funding. Priority will be given to projects that help the insular areas address a variety of threats to coral reef ecosystems from land-based sources of pollution, over-fishing and invasive species to ocean warming and acidification. A copy of this program solicitation can be found here.

Department of Commerce Funding Opportunity for Economic Development -- EDA provides strategic investments on a competitive merit basis to support economic development, foster job creation, and attract private investment in economically distressed areas of the United States. Under this FFO, EDA solicits applications from applicants to provide investments that support construction, non-construction, technical assistance, and revolving loan fund projects under EDA’s Public Works and EAA programs. Grants and cooperative agreements made under these programs are designed to leverage existing regional assets and support the implementation of economic development strategies that advance new ideas and creative approaches to advance economic prosperity in distressed communities. Eligible applicants include institutions of higher education or a consortium of institutions of higher education.  A copy of the funding announcement can be found here.

NSF Webinar on Upcoming Changes to its Proposal and Award Policies -- The National Science Foundation (NSF) will offer a NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) Update Webinar broadcast live to the research community on Thursday, January 19, 2017. There is no cost to participate.  The webinar will provide an overview of significant changes and clarifications to the PAPPG that will take effect on January 30, 2017. The PAPPG details NSF's proposal preparation and submission guidelines, and provides guidance on managing and monitoring the award and administration of grants and cooperative agreements made by the Foundation.  Click here to register. Login information for the webinar will be emailed to registrants on Wednesday, January 18, 2016.  For questions prior to the webinar, please contact NSF at grants_conference@nsf.gov, or call Allison Kennedy at: 703-245-7407.

DOD Medical Research Funding Conference -- The National Defense Industry Association (NDIA) is hosting a conference for the US Army Medical Research & Material Command in Ellicott City, Maryland March 7-8th.  Registration is open and can be accessed here. Rates go up in February and academic attendees have a reduced rate. The conference is designed as opportunity for academic faculty and staff, along with science and industry representatives, to learn more about the Department of Defense medical research and development programs and their goals/high-priority research gaps.  With over $1 billion in extramural funding opportunities, clear requirements from military leadership, and a unique ability to make funding decisions based on program needs, MRMC is motivated to engage with faculty that have innovative and promising research in a range of fields. The Tuesday and Wednesday conference will provide time for one-on-one meetings with program managers from several of the joint research programs at MRMC, including infectious disease, operational medicine, combat casualty, clinical and rehabilitative medicine, and medical simulation and information sciences.   Program managers will also be available for one-on-one meetings with faculty, but meeting requests must be made in advance via the form found here and completed by Jan. 31st.  In addition, there is an add-on program for Monday, March 6th, which is an introduction to DoD mechanisms.  This information may be especially helpful to grant support and research offices or PIs unfamiliar with DoD medical agencies.  There will also be a panel of Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) program managers that day discussing a few of those disease-specific programs.