Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2019 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2019 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill --  On May 24, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up and reported out the FY2019 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act that funds U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) programs and critical infrastructure projects administered by the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation.  The $43.766 billion measure, which funds programs related to energy security and economic competitiveness, is $566 million above the FY2018 enacted level and $7.24 billion above the President’s budget request.  The bill was approved 30-1.

The Committee approved the highest-ever level of funding for the DOE Office of Science in a regular appropriations bill and recommended historic, record-level funding for the program to spur greater innovation in energy research, high-performance computing, and next-generation technologies.  The bill also includes the funding necessary to improve and maintain flood control projects and ensure the viability of national and regional ports and waterways.

“I would tell President Trump and the Office of Management and Budget that science, research and innovation is what made America first, and I recommend that he add science, research and innovation to his ‘America First’ agenda,” said U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee.  “This funding bill is a good first step to doing that – it prioritizes federal spending to keep America first in energy research and increases funding to develop the next generation of supercomputers.”

Science Research – $6.65 billion for the DOE Office of Science, $390 million above the FY2018 enacted level and $1.26 billion above the budget request, to support basic science research and enabling research capabilities, development of high-performance computing systems, and research into the next generation of clean energy sources—all important areas for improving economic competitiveness, national security, and quality of life.

Energy Programs – $13.3 billion, $379 million above the FY2018 enacted level and $9.5 billion above the budget request.  Within this total, the bill prioritizes and increases funding for energy programs that encourage U.S. economic competitiveness and that will advance an “all-of-the-above” solution to U.S. energy independence. The ARPA-E program is funded at $375 million, once again rejecting the Administration’s proposal to terminate ARPA-E.

Christopher Fall Nominated to be Director of the Office of Science at the Department of Energy -- Dr. Chris Fall is the Principal Deputy Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy. Dr. Fall served most recently for over six years with the Office of Naval Research, including as Innovation Fellow, as Director of the International Liaison Office, as Deputy Director of Research for STEM and Workforce, and finally as acting Chief Scientist. During this time, he also served for three years at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as Assistant Director for Defense Programs and then as acting Lead for the National Security and International Affairs Division. Dr. Fall earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Virginia, as well as a master of business administration from the Kellogg School of Management. He was previously a postdoctoral fellow or faculty member at the University of California at Davis, New York University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

DHS Announces Funding Opportunity for FY 2018 Preparedness Grants – The Department of Homeland Security this week announced the release of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Notices of Funding Opportunity for eight DHS preparedness grant programs totaling more than $1.6 billion. The grant programs provide funding to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, as well as transportation authorities, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector, to improve the nation’s readiness in preventing, protecting against, responding to, recovering from and mitigating terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies. The grants reflect the Department’s focus on funding for programs that address our nation’s immediate security needs and ensure public safety in our communities.  The FY 2018 grant guidance will continue to focus on the nation’s highest risk areas, including urban areas that face the most significant threats.  For FY 2018, the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) will enhance regional preparedness and capabilities by funding 32 high-threat, high-density urban areas. 

Consistent with previous grant guidance, dedicated funding is provided for law enforcement and terrorism prevention throughout the country to prepare for, prevent and respond to pre-operational activity and other crimes that are precursors or indicators of terrorist activity.

Grant recipients are encouraged to use grant funding to maintain and sustain current critical core capabilities through investments in training and exercises, updates to current planning and procedures, and lifecycle replacement of equipment. New capabilities that are built using homeland security grant funding must be deployable if needed to support regional and national efforts. All capabilities being built or sustained must have a clear linkage to the core capabilities articulated in the National Preparedness Goal.

All preparedness Notices of Funding Opportunities can be found at www.grants.gov. Final submissions must be made through the Non-Disaster (ND) Grants system located at https://portal.fema.gov.

DARPA Announces Proposers’ Day Conference for new SCORE Program – on June 8 DARAPA will hold a meeting for potential proposers to highlight the objectives of an anticipated Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the Systematizing Confidence in Open Research and Evidence (SCORE) program. The Proposers Day will be held on June 8, 2018 from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM at the Executive Conference Center at Strategic Analysis, Inc. (4075 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22203). The event will be available via a live webcast for those who would like to participate remotely. Advance registration is required both for attending the Proposers Day in person and for viewing the webcast. DARPA is planning on soliciting innovative research proposals for the development and deployment of automated tools to assign Confidence Scores to different Social and Behavioral Science (SBS) research results and claims. Confidence Scores are quantitative measures that should enable someone to understand the degree to which a particular claim or result is likely to be reproducible and/or replicable. The SCORE program will develop automated tools that assign explainable Confidence Scores to SBS results and claims with a reliability that is equal to, or better than, the best current human expert methods. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems. Register for this DARPA conference here.  More details about this conference and the forthcoming SCORE program can be found here.