This article is published in the September 2023 issue.

Biden Administration Releases R&D Priorities Memo for Next Year’s Budget Request

By Brian Mosley, Associate Director, Government Affairs

In mid-August, the Biden Administration released a memo to the Federal research agencies outlining their research and development priorities for the Fiscal Year 2025 budget. The memo provides guidance to the agencies on how to prepare their budget request submissions for the Office of Management & Budget (OMB), who is the lead office in the White House tasked with assembling the yearly Presidential Budget Request (PBR).

Regular readers will recall, the first step in the federal budget process is the PBR, which is legally required to be submitted to Congress in early February (though it isn’t always submitted on time, as this past year demonstrated). Once the PBR is transmitted to Congress, the legislature then decides how money is legally allocated to the federal agencies through the appropriations process.

The memo identifies seven broad categories for the Administration’s R&D priorities:

  • Advance trustworthy artificial intelligence (AI) technology that protects people’s rights and safety, and harness it to accelerate the Nation’s progress,
  • Lead the world in maintaining global security and stability in the face of immense geopolitical changes and evolving risks,
  • Step up to the global challenge of meeting the climate crisis by reimagining our infrastructures, renewing our relationship with nature, and securing environmental justice,
  • Achieve better health outcomes for every person,
  • Reduce barriers and inequities,
  • Bolster the R&D and industrial innovation that will build the Nation’s future economic competitiveness from the bottom up and middle out,
  • Strengthen, advance, and use America’s unparalleled research to achieve our Nation’s great aspirations.

Very little is new here, as all of these priorities are in line with the Administration’s FY24 budget requests, and the years before that. The one item that has fallen back from past years is pandemic readiness; while it had been its own category in past memos, for obvious reasons it is now a subpoint under “achieve better health outcomes for every person.” Other than that, the memo continues to show that the Biden Administration is prioritizing AI, national security, equity and inclusion, and national competitiveness in the nation’s R&D enterprise.

With Fiscal Year 2025 being the last budget of President Biden’s first term, there is the possibility that this will be the last time this Administration will direct the research agencies’ agendas. Should President Biden win a second term, we can expect these priorities to continue to direct those agencies’ plans.