While Congress is still deciding how to finish the next fiscal year (FY2022 which starts on Oct 1st), the calendar keeps moving. With that in mind, the Biden Administration is already planning ahead for Fiscal Year 2023, which begins on Oct 1st, 2022, and released their first R&D priorities memo late last month. The memo provides guidance to federal research 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 five broad categories for the Administration’s R&D priorities:
- Pandemic readiness and prevention
- Tackling climate change
- Catalyze research and innovation in critical and emerging technologies
- Innovation for equity
- National security and economic resilience
All of these are in line with their FY22 budget requests and the President’s initial infrastructure plan. As an example, it is noted in the memo that the “Innovation for equity” topic is part of President Biden’s, “whole-of-Government equity agenda,” and is to specifically, “prioritize R&D investments in programs with strong potential to advance equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically disadvantaged, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.”
As another example, CS/IT topics are well covered in the “Catalyze research and innovation in critical and emerging technologies” topic. The memo advises the agencies to, “collaborate to promote world-leading research and innovation boosting American industries and quality American jobs in critical and emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), quantum information science (QIS), advanced communications technologies, microelectronics, high-performance computing, biotechnology, robotics, and space technologies.”
These topics are likely to continue to influence the Biden Administration, and by extension the federal research agencies, for the remaining years of the President’s term.