Federal Science Partners Periodic Update

FY 2020 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill Marked Up in House – Under the leadership of the Subcommittee Chair, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education marked up and reported out their recommendations for the FY 2020 Labor-HHS-Ed appropriations bill.  This legislation includes funding for programs within the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services – including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Education, and other related agencies. In total, the bill includes $189.8 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $11.7 billion over the 2019 enacted level and $47.8 billion over the President’s 2020 budget request. The Labor-HHS-Education bill is the largest non-defense appropriations bill. It is the first of 12 annual appropriations bills to be considered by the Appropriations Committee for fiscal 2020.

The bill provides a total of $41.1 billion for NIH, a bipartisan increase of nearly $2 billion above the 2019 enacted level of $39.3 billion.  The President’s budget had proposed to reduce the NIH budget by $5 billion to $34.4 billion. The bill continues to support several critical research initiatives, including:

  • $2.4 billion for Alzheimer’s disease research.

  • $3.2 billion for HIV/AIDS research.

  • $500 million for the All of Us precision medicine research initiative.

  • $411 million for the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative.

  • $195 million for the Cancer Moonshot research initiative.

  • $50 million for the Childhood Cancer Data Initiative.

  • $25 million for firearm injury and mortality prevention research.

  • $75 million for Research Centers in Minority Institutions.

Additionally, the bill provides sufficient funding to increase the appropriation for each Institute and Center by nearly five percent over the FY 2019 level. Additional information on the other agencies and programs in this bill can be found here.

 Norm Augustine and Neal Lane Issue Letter Report Updating “Restoring the Foundation – On April 26, Norm Augustine, former Chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation and Neal Lane, former Science Advisor to President Clinton, transmitted a nine page letter to the House and Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittees recommending the Nation increase its total R&D investment (public and private) as a fraction of GDP from 2.7% to 3% within 5 years and 3.3% within 10 years.  Federal basic research should be increased at a sustained real rate of at least 4% per year.  The report makes numerous other recommendations in recognition of the increasing intensity of R&D investment being made by our competitors with particular emphasis on China.  The letter report notes that in 2014, China awarded over 1.7 million bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering compared with about 740,000 in the U.S.  Some 260,000 Chinese students are currently pursuing degrees at universities in the U.S. with an increasing fraction returning home after completing their education or are being driven from the U.S. by wide-sweeping immigration limits.  China has indicated its aim to become Asia's top destination for international students, targeting 500,000 foreign students enrolled per year by next year—2020. Under its “Thousand Talents Plan,” China is actively recruiting established foreign scientists to work in China. As China emphasizes the scale and quality of its universities, U.S. states have largely elected to disinvest in their public universities, cutting funding by an average of 30% per full-time student (even after adjusting for inflation) between 2000 and 2014, thereby essentially privatizing many institutions that do not have large endowments. Concurrently, the federal government has burdened the nation’s most highly regarded private institutions by imposing a tax on their endowment earnings; earnings that otherwise could have been allocated to scholarships and research.  These and other important observations are contained in this letter report which is available here.

 National Science Board Seeks Nominations for new Members of the NSB -- The National Science Board (NSB, Board) is accepting nominations for the class of 2020–2026 until May 31, 2019. Every two years, the Board solicits recommendations for new members from leading scientific, engineering, and educational organizations, as well as the public. NSB considers all completed nominations and then makes its recommendations to the Administration. The President decides who to appoint to the NSB.  The National Science Foundation (NSF) Act of 1950 created the Board with 24 Members serving 6-year terms. The NSF Director is the ex officio 25th member. The Act gives the Board dual responsibilities to oversee the activities of and establish policies for NSF, as well as advise the President and Congress on policy matters related to science and engineering and education in science and engineering.  The Board is an oversight and governance board, not an honorary board or an advisory committee.  Members must devote considerable time to meet their responsibilities. In its review of candidates, the NSB applies the statutory eligibility requirements and considers demographics, balance among professional fields, active researchers, teachers and administrators, and private for-profit and non-profit representation. More information and nomination instructions are here. 

Former NSF Ocean Sciences Head Named Woods Hole Deputy Director – On May 1, Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) announced that Dr. Rick Murray will become Deputy Director and Vice President for Research effective September 1, 2019.  A geochemist whose research focuses on interpreting chemical records of climate change and volcanism in marine sediments, Dr. Murray joins WHOI from Boston University, where he has been since 1992 and is currently a professor of Earth and Environment. He was director of the Division of Ocean Sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 2015-2018. In addition to his regular duties at NSF, he also co-chaired the Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology, as part of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President, during both the Obama and Trump administrations.

House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Sustainable Fisheries – On May 1 the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife, under the chairmanship of Rep. Jared Huffman (D-A), held an oversight hearing on the state of fisheries.  Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s global fisheries and aquaculture program was one of the featured witnesses.  Ms. Kemmerly applauded the strong management approach authorized by the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA).  She pointed out that because of the MSA, the U.S. has been successful at rebuilding certain fish stocks, decreasing the risk of overfishing and elevating long-term sustainability of fisheries around the country.  In recent years, many once-depleted U.S. fish stocks have recovered, and the number of overfished stocks has fallen. Seafood Watch and other sustainability programs have evaluated 95 percent of U.S. fisheries by production; of those, 91 percent is rated green (Best Choice) or yellow (Good Alternative), or is eco-certified, meaning they meet the equivalent of at least a Seafood Watch yellow rating. This is a much higher level of environmental sustainability than seen in global fisheries. As a result, the U.S. is now positioned as a world leader in sustainable fishery management. Countries around the world, as well as the United Nations, are using the U.S. approach as a model for improving their own fishery policies and regulations. A copy of Ms. Kemmerly’s testimony and the statements of the other witnesses came be found here.

Government Accountability Office (GAO) Expanding its Science and Technology Expertise – Recently GAO created a new unit formally known as Science, Technology Assessment and Analytics (STAA).  GAO now intends to double its roster from 70 people to 140 over the next few years.  The existing staff includes PhDs in physics, chemistry, and engineering.  Their next round of hiring will emphasize biological sciences, computer engineering, aerospace engineering, and data science and engineering.  Learn more about GAO’s S&T policy plans here

NOAA Names Senior Advisor for Seafood Strategy – NOAA Fisheries announced the appointment of Dr. Michael Rubino as the agency’s new Senior Advisor for Seafood Strategy. In this new role, he will lead the development of markets for U.S. fisheries products and facilitate new and expanded domestic aquaculture production. Dr. Rubino will also work with the private sector and researchers within NOAA and elsewhere to foster innovative aquaculture science and technology development that can provide economic or ecological value for the country; work with U.S. domestic commercial and wild-capture fishing corporations to evaluate what products and services they need from the government in order to increase their contribution to the economy; and collaborate and partner with other federal agencies, coastal communities, states, tribes, the aquaculture industry, non-governmental organizations, Sea Grant, the councils and commissions, and other partners and stakeholders to transition innovative aquaculture technologies and to document and assess their environmental, ecosystem, and socioeconomic impacts.

NOAA Names Three New Members to Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee -- Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has appointed three new members to NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee, bringing the group’s membership to the full complement of 21. Terms for the three members commence immediately. The Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee, or MAFAC, advises the Secretary of Commerce and NOAA on all living marine resource matters that are the responsibility of the Department of Commerce. MAFAC members draw on their expertise to evaluate and make recommendations on national living marine resources policies.  The members represent a wide spectrum of fishing, aquaculture, protected resources, environmental, academic, tribal, state, consumer, and other related national interests from across the U.S., and ensure the nation’s living marine resource policies and programs meet the needs of these stakeholders.

The three new members are: Thomas Fote, Toms River, New Jersey Retired veteran and longtime recreational fisherman advocate; Don McMahanPensacola, Florida Owner, Pensacola Bay Oyster Company, LL, and Pensacola Bay Oyster Hatchery, LLC; and Patrick Sullivan, PhD, Ithaca, New York Professor and Chair, Department of Natural Resources, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University.  More information on the NOAA Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee can be found here.