Federal Science Partners Periodic Update

Administration’s FY 2020 Budget Request Delayed Until March 11According to some published reports the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will release the President’s FY 2020 Budget the week of March 11.  Included will be the Budget Message of the President, information on the President's priorities, and summary tables. Other background materials are expected to be released the week of March 18th.  Those background materials include the appendix, which contains detailed line-item information for each agency; 'major savings and reforms' volume, which details proposed cuts to mandatory and discretionary programs; and analytical perspectives document, which contains information on a variety of topics ranging from the long-term budget outlook to funding priorities that cut across several agencies like research and development.  Some analysts expect the President’s Budget will propose higher defense spending than allowed under the statutory caps for FY 2020. Administration officials have cited figures as high as $750 billion, or 30 percent higher than the current FY 2020 limit.  Non-defense spending is expected to be reduced by $55 billion or 9% below the FY 2019 level to be within the non-defense spending cap for FY 2020. 


Should the Administration present a budget that proposes to reduce non-defense spending by as much as 9%, that would likely mean the budgets for many agencies and programs, such as NIH, NSF, climate research, ocean and coastal research and education programs (such as Sea Grant), renewable energy programs, ARPA-E, and environmental research would be presented with significant reductions and/or terminations similar to previous proposals for FY 2018 and FY 2019.  Many observers are expecting that at some point in the future the Congress and the President may negotiate an increase in both defense and non-defense spending caps for FY 2020.  When or if the spending caps are actually raised is far from a certainty at this point especially when one remembers the Federal spending deficit will hit $1 trillion per year in the coming fiscal year according to some economic projections. 


Congress Continues to Work to Avoid Another Shut Down -- Meanwhile House and Senate negotiators continue to meet as they try to agree on a border security initiative for inclusion in the Homeland Security appropriations act for FY 2019.  Recent press reports have been optimistic that Congressional negotiators will be able to reach agreement before the expiration of the next funding deadline. Currently a substantial portion of the Federal Government is operating under the authority of a continuing resolution that expires on February 15.  Without an agreement that either provides funding for the balance of the current fiscal year, extends the CR and resolves the border security matter the agencies covered by the following appropriations act would once again be forced to suspend operations:  Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; Financial Services and General Government; Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.


House Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee Holds Hearing on the State of Our Oceans – On Thursday, February 7, the House Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) held a hearing to examine the health of our oceans.  Chairman Huffman noted this hearing was to be the first of several overview hearings on the issues germane to the subcommittee’s jurisdiction. The hearing, while supposed to be about the health of the oceans, quickly evolved into a vigorous debate on climate change focusing on the science, the validity of models used to make future projections, and the economic costs to be incurred either by inaction to the changing climate or by over reaction to changing conditions. 


Witnesses testifying at the hearing included:  Dr. Deborah Bronk, President and CEO, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, East Boothbay, ME (Bigelow is a member of the National Association of Marine Laboratories or NAML); Carol Browner, Former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.; Ms. Beth Casoni, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, Scituate, MA; Ms. Angela Chalk, Executive Director of Healthy Community Services, New Orleans, LA; Queen Quet Marquetta L. Goodwine, Chieftess and Head-of-State of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, St. Helena Island, SC; Dr. David R. Legates, Professor of Climatology, University of Delaware, Newark, DE; and Dr. Kevin Dayaratna, Senior Statistician and Research Programmer, Institute for Economic Freedom, The Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.  The testimony of each of the witnesses plus the Chairman’s opening statement and an archived video of the hearing can be found here.


AMS Washington Forum – March 27-29, 2019 – The American Meteorological Society (AMS) will hold its annual Washington Forum on March 27 through March 29.  The Forum will take place at the AAAS Building located at 1200 New York Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. This year’s sessions will include the following topics:  agribusiness and smart farming using weather analytics; augmented weather applications from artificial intelligence; a view from Capitol Hill and from policy and decision makers at relevant Federal Agencies; hurricane resiliency from storms of the future; the value of weather information and services; and weather decision support for mariners.  Dr. Susan Avery, President Emeritus of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado Boulder will be the keynote speaker at the Forum’s Banquet. Registration and additional information on the Forum can be found here.


AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Set for May 2 and 3 – The annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy, known for its focus on public policy issues facing science, engineering, and higher education since 1976, will take place this year on May 2 and 3.  Attendees can expect to receive briefings and information on the Federal R&D budget and various policy issues impacting researcher and their institutions.  More information, including registration and other information, is available here.


Career Official Named Science Advisor to New Nominee for Secretary of the Interior – The President has nominated David Bernhardt to be the next Secretary of the Interior.  Mr. Bernhardt has been serving as the Deputy Secretary under former Secretary Ryan Zinke.  Within days after being nominated as the next Secretary, Mr. Bernhardt appointed William Werkheiser as science advisor.  Dr. Werkheiser had been on detail from the USGS serving as science advisor to Mr. Bernhardt while Mr. Bernhardt was the Deputy Secretary.  Prior to his detail he served as the USGS Deputy Director. Before his selection as Deputy Director, Mr. Werkheiser was the Associate Director for Water where he was responsible for all aspects of water science programs in the USGS, including strategic program development, meaningful accountability measures, budget initiatives, and representation of the bureau to the Department, the Administration, Congress, Universities, Tribes, and other Federal, State, and local agencies.

Mr. Werkheiser began his 30-year Federal career with the USGS as a scientist investigating issues ranging from the impacts of development on water supplies, the movement and fate of pollutants, and the effects of rising sea level on coastal aquifers. He has held a number of leadership positions, including Director, USGS Pennsylvania Water Science Center, lead of the Natural Hazards Initiative, and lead of the Long-term Hurricane Katrina Response and Recovery Team for USGS.


GAO Announces New Science, Technology Assessment and Analytics (STAA) Team – GAO has announced the formation of a new STAA team to focus on: technology assessments and technical services for the Congress; auditing federal science and technology programs; compiling and utilizing best practices in the engineering sciences, including cost, schedule, and technology readiness assessment; and establishing an audit innovation lab to explore, pilot, and deploy new advanced analytic capabilities, information assurance auditing, and emerging technologies that are expected to greatly impact auditing practices.  More information on this new GAO team is available here.


NSF Webinar on Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR) Funding Opportunity -- NSF’s Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR) is a national-scale activity to enable new modes of data-driven discovery that will allow fundamental questions to be asked and answered at the frontiers of science and engineering. The HDR vision is realized through an interrelated set of activities and funding opportunities.  Each of these efforts is designed to amplify the intrinsically multidisciplinary nature of the emerging field of data science. This NSF webinar, scheduled for February 15, will present an overview of the current HDR funding opportunities.  More information on this webinar is available here.


DOE Announces Funding Opportunity for Cybersecurity Institute for Energy Efficient Manufacturing -- the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has announced their intent to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) entitled “Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute: Cybersecurity in Energy Efficient Manufacturing." This FOA establishes a new Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute to develop technologies that will advance U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, energy efficiency, and innovation. This Institute, the sixth one established by the Department of Energy, will focus on Cybersecurity in Manufacturing – understanding the evolving cybersecurity threats to greater energy efficiency in manufacturing industries, developing new cybersecurity technologies and methods, and sharing information and expertise to the broader community of U.S. manufacturers. EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office will oversee this FOA. It is anticipated it may include two technical areas of interest: Securing Automation and Securing the Supply Chain. EERE plans to issue the FOA via the EERE Exchange in the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2019.  The full Notice of Intent can be viewed here.


Hearing Announced – The State of Climate Science and Why it Matters – The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee has announced its plans to hold a full committee hearing on February 12 at 10AM entitled The State of Climate Science and Why it Matters.”  The witnesses for this hearing will be:  Dr. Natalie M. Mahowald, Irving Porter Church Professor of Engineering, Faculty Director for the Environment, Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell University;  Dr. Robert Kopp, Director, Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, and Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University;  Dr. Jennifer Francis, Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center;  Dr. Joseph Majkut, Director of Climate Policy, Niskanen Center;  Dr. Kristie L. Ebi, Rohm & Haas Endowed Professor in Public Health Sciences, Director, Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHanGE) University of Washington.  More information on this upcoming hearing can be found here.


NOAA Funding Available for Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration -- NOAA has modified the deadlines and review process for its Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration Grants in response to the lapse in appropriations. The original pre-proposal deadline of January 14, 2019 was not modified; however, a pre-proposal is no longer mandatory to submit a full proposal. All applicants who submitted a pre-proposal will receive the results of their review, as described in the modified FFO. Review results will be available the first week in March. The original FFO said the closing date would be sent directly to eligible applicants. As all applicants are now eligible to submit full proposals, NOAA has set April 16, 2019 as the proposal deadline. NOAA has $6 million for this funding opportunity. NOAA is seeking proposals from non-federal partners for habitat restoration projects that will restore coastal ecosystems. The selected projects will support species recovery and help rebuild fish populations, and likely yield community and economic benefits.