Computing Research Policy Blog

“Chips and Science” NSF Legislation, Formerly the USICA and COMPETES Acts, Heads Towards Passage Into Law

We last left the NSF reauthorization legislation (also known as USICA, the COMPETES Act, China competition bill, bipartisan innovation bill, and a couple of other names) in the middle of June. At that time, things were not looking promising for the bill’s future. The conference negotiation process appeared to be bogged down and it didn’t seem that the legislation would move forward. Much has changed in the last month and a half, as the bill now heads to the President’s desk for signing into law.

What has happened is a scaling back of the bill’s scope. Rather than a huge legislative package of several thousand pages covering a wide range of topics, the bill is now a scaled back bill with only the most popular pieces. Foremost is the CHIPS Act, which contains $52 billion dollars in emergency appropriations for subsidies for semiconductor manufacturing and R&D. This has always been the most popular part of the legislation and has been the main driver of its progress. In fact, the latest name for this scaled down package is the “Chips and Science bill.”

When this “Chips and Science bill” was first introduced, it appeared that the research provisions, including all the language pertaining to NSF, would not make the cut. However, last week, Senator Young (R-IN) and Senator Sinema (D-AZ) introduced an amendment that inserted compromised language pertaining to NSF, the Department of Energy, NIST, and NASA.

The bill’s language provides healthy funding authorizations to NSF’s top line, stipulating that the agency’s budget should double in five years. Additionally, the Foundation’s Research and Related Activities (RRA) account, where the majority of the agency’s research funding is located, would grow at a similar rate. The Directorates for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) and Education & Human Resources (EHR) also received increased funding authorizations. Please see the charts at the end of this post for detailed budget authorization numbers.

There are several things to note in these numbers. First, RRA gets increases that are in addition to what TIP would receive. One of the concerns with the new directorate is that Congress could stipulate that any funding increases to the Foundation would only go to TIP, thus depriving the traditional research directorates of much needed funds and growth. This approach makes clear that TIP should grow with the Foundation, not independent of it. However, keep in mind that these are not appropriations but authorizations levels, which is to say that these are the levels Congress says the accounts should be funded at. Congressional appropriators, who decided on the actual funding level, aren’t required to follow these numbers when providing annual funding.

FY22 Final FY27 Auth $ Change % Change
NSF Total $8.84B $18.92B +$10.08B +114%
R&RA $7.20B $14.70B +$7.50B +104%
Without TIP $7.20B $10.60B +$3.40B +47%
TIP Only NA $4.10B
EHR/EDU $1.01B $3.00B +$2.99B +197%

The language also codifies NSF’s new TIP Directorate, using the Biden Administration’s name for the directorate. Both the House and Senate had proposed their own names for the “tech directorate” in their legislative plans but the fact that the Administration’s approach is already started, and has the backing of Congressional appropriators, seemed enough to put it into law. In terms of policy, in what can only be called an interesting compromise, TIP’s research mission will be governed by both 5 broad societal, national, & geostrategic challenges and 10 key technology focus areas. That would include the major organizational principles of both the House and Senate bills. These challenges and technology focus areas will also be reviewed annually and changed if deemed necessary (see the initial lists below, though they are mostly unchanged from the earlier legislative proposals). Also, the new directorate’s program managers will not be required to operate like their counterparts at DARPA, something put forward originally in the Senate legislation. There are several other provisions with regard to TIP, such as codifying the Regional Innovation Engines and the Translation Accelerator programs, but little that can be described as prescriptive toward the Foundation.

There are also several provisions pertaining to NSF’s STEM education and broadening participation efforts. Much of that, which was originally in the House NSF for the Future Act, is codifying programs and efforts that the Foundation is already doing.

There are several other pieces of scientific legislation in Division B (the R&D section) of the package:

– Expansion of the amount of money NSF must use for its EPSCOR program (Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. This is NSF’s program to set aside money for states that do not receive the majority of the agency’s research funding. This expansion was in the Senate’s USICA legislation and eventually in the House’s COMPETES Act.

– STEM Opportunities Act – Calls for policy reforms, research, and data collection to identify and lower barriers facing women, minorities, and other groups underrepresented in STEM studies and research careers. This was part of the House’s COMPETES Act.

– Combating Sexual Harassment in Science – This is to combat sexual harassment in the country’s science enterprise. It does so through a research grant program at NSF to study the problem, data collection on the prevalence of harassment, and directs OSTP to issue policy guidelines for research agencies awarding extramural research grants, emphasizing the importance of information sharing among Federal science agencies, among other provisions. Part of the COMPETES Act.

– Supporting Early-career Researchers – Establishes a two-year, $250 million agency-wide early career fellowship pilot program at NSF, providing a bridge for recent Ph.D. graduates to stay in their research career. This is modeled after CRA’s CI Fellows program. It was also in the COMPETES Act.

– And an extensive section on Research Security which includes prohibitions on malign foreign talent recruitment programs and funding for higher education institutions that continue to host Confucius Institutes (there is a carve out for institutions to get an exemption). Much of this was in the COMPETES Act.

On the whole, this looks increasingly like a solid win for the NSF community: strong funding authorizations which the community can use in their advocacy efforts; an expansion of the agency’s missions, which is in-line with its culture; codification of many programs and efforts the Foundation is currently undertaking; and several pieces of ancillary science legislation of good note. While the authorization levels are unlikely to be passed into law as appropriations, it does show a strong vote of Congressional confidence in NSF.

Events have moved very quickly. The Senate passed the bill on Wednesday by a vote of 64-33. It then headed to the House for consideration, where it passed in the chamber Thursday afternoon on a bipartisan vote of 243-187. It now heads to the chief executive and we can expect President Biden to sign it into law in a few days.

This has certainly been a long two-year process, starting in 2020 with the introduction of the first Endless Frontier Act in the Senate. Given that over a month ago it was not a sure thing that this legislation would be passed into law, the fact that the process is almost done is great news.

Detailed Authorization Levels, Fiscal Year 2023 through Fiscal Year 2027 (FY22 Final for comparison)

FY22 Final FY23 Auth $ Change % Change FY24 Auth $ Change % Change
NSF Total $8.84B $11.80B +$2.96B +33.5% $15.65B +$3.85B +32.6%
R&RA $7.20B $9.05B +$1.85B +25.7% $12.05B +$3.00B +33.1%
Without TIP $7.20B $7.55B +$350M +4.9% $8.70B +$1.15B +15.2%
TIP Only NA $1.50B $3.35B +$1.85B +123%
EHR/EDU $1.01B $1.95B +$940M +93.1% $2.50B +$550M +28.2%
FY25 Auth $ Change % Change FY26 Auth $ Change % Change FY27 Auth $ Change % Change
NSF Total $16.71B +$1.06B +6.8% $17.83B +$1.12B +6.7% $18.92B +$1.09B +6.1%
R&RA $12.85B +$800M +6.6% $13.80B +$950M +7.4% $14.70B +$900M +6.5%
Without TIP $9.30B +$600M +6.9% $10.00B +$700M +7.5% $10.60B +$600M +6.0%
TIP Only $3.55B +$200M +6.0% $3.80B +$250M +7.0% $4.10B +$300M +7.9%
EHR/EDU $2.70B +$200M +8.0% $2.85B +$150M +5.6% $3.00B +$150M +5.3%

Initial List of Societal, National, and Geostrategic Challenges for TIP Directorate:
(1) United States national security.
(2) United States manufacturing and industrial productivity.
(3) United States workforce development and skills gaps.
(4) Climate change and environmental sustainability.
(5) Inequitable access to education, opportunity, or other services.

Initial List of Key Technology Focus Areas for TIP Directorate:
(1) Artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomy, and related advances.
(2) High performance computing, semiconductors, and advanced computer hardware and software.
(3) Quantum information science and technology.
(4) Robotics, automation, and advanced manufacturing.
(5) Natural and anthropogenic disaster prevention or mitigation.
(6) Advanced communications technology and immersive technology.
(7) Biotechnology, medical technology, genomics, and synthetic biology.
(8) Data storage, data management, distributed ledger technologies, and cybersecurity, including bio metrics.
(9) Advanced energy and industrial efficiency technologies, such as batteries and advanced nuclear technologies, including but not limited to for the purposes of electric generation (consistent with section 15 of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950 (42 U.S.C. 1874).
(10) Advanced materials science, including composites 2D materials, other next-generation materials, and related manufacturing technologies.

FY23 Appropriations Update: House Appropriators Provide Heathy Increases for NSF, NIST, NASA; Will They be Passed into Law?

[Editor’s Note: This post was written by CRA’s Tisdale Policy Fellow for Summer 2022, Dalton Hellwege.]

In our continuing series looking at the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget, we turn to the House Appropriations Committee and their Commerce, Justice, and Science bill. This piece of legislation is of great interest to the computing community, as it contains the budgets for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), among other federal science agencies.

NSF, which funds 79 percent of all Federal support for fundamental computing research at American universities, fares well in this bill. Under the House’s plan, NSF’s topline budget would receive $9.63 billion, an increase of $790 million (+8.9 percent) over the FY22 number ($8.84 billion). While not as generous as the President’s 19 percent requested increase from March, it is still a good number for the agency and demonstrates that NSF still maintains the confidence and support of key members of Congress.

Digging a little deeper into the details of the House’s plans, the Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account, home to NSF’s research portfolio, would receive $7.71 billion for FY23. That would represent a $510 million increase over FY22 enacted levels (+7.1 percent). The Directorate for Education & Human Resources account (EHR), soon to be renamed the Directorate for STEM Education (EDU) (the name gets approval from House Appropriators in this bill), would receive $1.25 billion or a $240 million increase from FY22 (+24 percent).

While these numbers are objectively good, it’s worth noting that all of the House Appropriations Committee’s marks are below what the Biden Administration requested in their budget plan in March.

FY22 FY23 PBR FY23 House $ Change % Change
NSF Total $8.84B $10.50B $9.63B +$790M +8.9%
R&RA $7.20B $8.43B $7.71B +$510M +7.1%
EHR/EDU $1.01B $1.38B $1.25B +$240M +24%

Looking at policy items in the Committee’s report, there are several topics of interest with regard to NSF. First, the Committee voiced their support for the newly created TIP Directorate and provided, “no less than $170 million for the Regional Innovation Engines” program. Additionally, the Committee supports the agency’s efforts in artificial intelligence, QIS, and high-performance computing, providing funding up to the President’s request in these areas. The Committee also accepted the agency’s plans and requested budgets for NSF’s CyberCorps, Graduate Research Fellowship Program, and a number of other broadening participation efforts at the agency.

With regard to the other research agencies in this legislation, the big winner is the National Institute of Standards & Technology’s (NIST). It would receive a significant increase under the House’s plan, going from $1.23 billion in FY22 to $1.47 billion in FY23, a $240 million dollar increase (or +20 percent). Likewise, the Science and Technical Research and Services (STRS) account, where the majority of the agency’s research is housed, would see a nice increase to $953 million for FY23. The STRS FY23 number is $103 million more than the number from FY22 (+12.1 percent). While the House’s mark for NIST is below the President’s requested budgets for the agency, they are not significantly so.

FY22 FY23 PBR FY23 House $ Change % Change
NIST Total $1.23B $1.48B $1.47B +$240M +20%
STRS $850M $975M $953M +$103M +12.1%

Finally, looking at NASA’s budget, the space agency would receive $25.5 billion, an increase of $1.5 billion from FY22 (+6.3 percent). The agency’s Science account would receive $7.91 billion, an increase of $310 million from FY22 (+4.1 percent). Both of these budget lines are similar to NIST: below President Biden’s budget request but only marginally.

FY22 FY23 PBR FY23 House $ Change % Change
NASA Total $24.00B $26.00B $25.50B +$1.50B +6.3%
Science $7.60B $7.99B $7.91B +$310M +4.1%

The CJS bill was approved by the Full Appropriations Committee on June 28th and is now waiting to be voted on by the full House of Representatives. After that, we must wait and see what happens in the Senate; it is unclear when they will act on their own CJS bill. Final resolution of all the FY23 appropriation bills is unlikely until after the November 2022 elections, and the results of those elections will likely dictate when the bills (or single omnibus bill, or some combination) will get a final vote. Please keep checking back for updates.

FY23 Appropriations Update: House Numbers for the Energy Department’s Programs are Good, Similar to the President’s Request

Continuing our coverage of the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) federal budget process, we turn to the House Appropriations Committee’s Energy and Water bill. This bill contains the budgets for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE SC) and ARPA-E, as well as funding for the Exascale Computing R&D program, for which DOE is the lead federal agency. Very similar to last year’s mark from the chamber, the House’s plan provides healthy, robust funding for these programs, and are very close to what the President requested in May.

The bill proposes a solid, 7 percent increase for the Office of Science over FY22 enacted levels, bringing the agency’s budget to an even $8.00 billion for FY23 (an increase of $520 million). Within the Office of Science, the Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program, which houses the majority of the computing research at DOE, would see a less generous increase of just 1 percent – going from $1.04 billion in FY22 to $1.05 billion for FY23. While the Office of Science top line number is better than Biden Administration plan, the ASCR number is slightly below (by about $20 million) what the President recommended.

Much like last year, that 1 percent increase for ASCR is deceptive and contains good news. ASCR’s research subaccounts received increases and together would increase by an average of 7 percent. However, the Exascale Computing Program, which is winding down several large construction projects, received a large 40 percent cut from its FY22 levels. But this decrease is planned, as it is what the Administration requested. As with last year’s ASCR request and House plan, from a research perspective, this plan is better than the overall number would suggest.

In the committee’s report, the House appropriators voiced their support for the agency’s efforts in artificial intelligence and quantum information sciences. They also spoke highly of the Office of Science’s engagement plans with HBCUs and MSIs, in order to build research capacity and further workforce development.

Finally, the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, or ARPA-E, would receive $550 million for FY23, a 22 percent increase (+$100 million) in comparison to FY22. In terms of policy details, there seems to be a disagreement between what the Administration feels the agency is authorized to spend its funds on and what the House Appropriations Committee thinks. In the committee’s report, it states:

The budget request proposes to expand ARPA–E’s scope to include research and development on climate adaptation and resilience. However, the budget request justification notes that the expansion will require legislation beyond the current authorization. The Committee notes that ARPA–E has authority ‘‘to address the energy and environmental missions of the Department,’’ according to section 5012 of the America COMPETES Act. This includes climate-related innovations, and further, the Committee notes that ARPA–E already funds such activities.

It will be interesting to see how the Senate Appropriations Committee responds to this matter. Other than this disagreement, there are no other policy stipulations for ARPA-E in the report.

FY22 FY23 PBR FY23 House $ Change % Change
DOE SC Total $7.48B $7.80B $8.00B +$520M +7.0%
ASCR $1.04B $1.07B $1.05B +$15M +1.0%
ARPA-E $450M $700M $550M +$100M +22%

The House Appropriations Committee approved their bill on June 28th; next step is for it to go before the full House chamber for passage. That is likely to be soon. Once the bill clears the House, we have to wait and see what happens on the Senate side, as that chamber hasn’t begun public work on their slate of bills. Please check back for more updates.

CRA Endorsement of H.R. 7710, the “Counter Human Trafficking Research & Development Act”

Last month, Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI), joined by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) and House Science, Space, and Technology Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), introduced the H.R. 7710, the Counter Human Trafficking Research and Development Act.

This legislation will create a National Counter Human Trafficking Research and Development Initiative at the White House, specifically within the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The initiative will be tasked with developing “anti-trafficking technologies and accelerate scientific understanding of human trafficking, including tools to better measure the prevalence of human trafficking and to detect and disrupt human trafficking demand.” Additionally, the bill will, “support federal agency coordination of survivor-informed research and development, coordinate data sharing, establish an advisory committee that brings voices and perspectives of researchers, higher education, law enforcement, non-profit organizations the table, and fund critical research in human trafficking through the National Science Foundation.” Rep. Moore’s office created a one-page summary of the legislation.

CRA was consulted on a discussion draft of this legislation and was able to provide feedback and suggestions on how to make the bill stronger. CRA was pleased to release the following statement endorsing the legislation:


The Computing Research Association applauds the introduction of the H.R. 7710, the “Counter Human Trafficking Research and Development Act,” and congratulates Representative Gwen Moore, Representative Don Beyer, and House Science, Space, and Technology Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson for their work crafting legislation that will help enable the research and address the data needs to provide the tools needed to end human trafficking.

It is vital in moving to eliminate human trafficking that the needs of local actors to collect data be understood and improved. In this research area, the most effective data comes from the local level; information from NGOs, law enforcement, and prosecutors is key to understanding, responding, and countering human trafficking. Funding and support to bolster the data capacity of these groups will improve research which in turn will help in efforts to eliminate human trafficking. We support the inclusion of a section directing the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study, “that includes an assessment of human trafficking data collection needs and practices of Federal agencies, local nongovernmental organizations, law enforcement, and prosecutors to improve Federal research and development to prevent, identify, and disrupt human trafficking.”

The legislation’s emphasis on working with trafficking survivors and bringing them into the research process, while both protecting their privacy and encouraging the development and deployment of Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) will provide a wealth of data to tackle many key research questions.

We commend Reps. Moore and Beyer, and Chairwoman Johnson, for their leadership in this area, and we look forward to working with all parties as this bill moves through the legislative process.

FY23 Appropriations Update: Like Last Year, the House’s Defense Research Budget is Better than the Administration’s but that Doesn’t Mean It’s Good

Congress has begun the yearly appropriations process, divvying up tax-payer dollars to the assorted federal agencies for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23). As is the norm, the House Appropriations Committee has begun its work first. As we have done in years past, CRA will be examining the House and Senate’s budget plans for each federal research agency of note to the computing community and providing a summary. The first agency to check is the Department of Defense (DOD) and the House’s defense appropriations bill.

Taking a step back, DOD’s Science and Technology (DOD S&T) program is made up of three accounts: 6.1 (basic research), 6.2 (applied research), and 6.3 (advanced technology development). These accounts are themselves made up of individual accounts for each of the three services (Army, Navy, and Air Force), as well as a Defense Wide account. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is a section under the Defense Wide account. Regular readers will recall that the Administration’s requested budget from March was not good. Unfortunately, the House appropriators’ plan, while better than what the Administration proposed, isn’t an objectively good budget. This is very similar to what happened with last year’s House bill for the defense research accounts.

Under the House’s plan, Basic Research (6.1) would receive a significant cut of 5.8 percent compared to its FY22 levels. The account would decrease from $2.76 billion in FY22 to $2.60 billion for FY23, a reduction of $160 million. There is no good news in the details: only the Air Force’s 6.1 subaccount would receive an increase for FY23 under the House’s plan. And, digging a little deeper into the details, none of the individual service’s “University Research Initiative” subaccounts would see plus ups, only cuts.

Despite the decrease compared to FY22, the 6.1 topline does represent an increase when compared to the President’s budget request. Using that number for comparison would have the account increasing by 9.4 percent.

The Applied Research (6.2) account is in much the same shape; objectively bad compared to last year’s budget but good compared to the Administration’s request. The full account would see a 4.9 percent cut compared to last year’s budget, decreasing from $6.91 billion in FY22 to $6.57 billion under the House’s plan (a loss of $340 million). But that is 13.4 percent more than POTUS’ requested budget from March.

Finally, the Advanced Technology Development (6.3) account would be flat funded for Fiscal Year 2023 under the House’s framework. It would go from $9.22 billion in FY22 to $9.16 billion in FY23, a cut of $60 million (or -0.7 percent). As with the other accounts, when compared against the President’s request, the House numbers are 10.5 percent better than the the President’s.

DARPA is the one account that does worse under the House’s budget plan in comparison to the President’s mark; also, it’s the only account that would receive an increase. The agency’s budget would increase from $3.87 billion in FY22 to $4.06 billion in FY23, an increase of 4.9 percent (or +$190 million). President Biden had recommended $4.12 billion for the research agency, which would have been a 6.5 percent increase.

FY22 FY23 PBR FY23 House $ Change % Change
DOD 6.1 $2.76B $2.23B $2.60B -$160M -5.8%
DOD 6.2 $6.91B $5.79B $6.57B -$340M -4.9%
DOD 6.3 $9.22B $8.29B $9.16B -$60M -0.7%
DARPA $3.87B $4.12B $4.06B +$190M +4.9%

While the House has mitigated some of the impact of the President’s proposed cuts, their plan would still roll back budgets in research accounts relative to FY22. This is almost identical to what happened last year; a recurring theme for this fiscal year. As with last year, CRA and our colleagues in the research advocacy community will continue to make the case that support for these fundamental and applied research lines are critical to ensuring the Defense Department has the technology base it needs to meet the threats we face now and in the future.

What happens next? The bill was approved by the full House Appropriations Committee on June 22nd. It now heads to the full House for consideration, where it is likely to be passed quickly. Then we will have to wait. The general view in the Washington research policy community is that the Senate will likely not act on their own appropriations bill until after the November Midterm Elections. This is looking to be a very long year for the Federal budget process; please keep checking back for more updates.

CRA Statement Applauding the Nomination of Arati Prabhakar to the Positions of Director of OSTP & the President’s Science Advisor

Yesterday, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Dr. Arati Prabhakar to the positions of Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and, once confirmed by the Senate, will also serve as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. In this capacity, Dr. Prabhakar will also be, “the President’s Chief Advisor for Science and Technology, a co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), and a member of the President’s Cabinet.”

CRA applauds this announcement and released the following statement:

The Computing Research Association applauds President Biden for announcing his intention to nominate Dr. Arati Prabhakar to the positions of Director of the Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) and the President’s science advisor. Dr. Prabhakar is no stranger to the computing research community, having served as the Senate-confirmed directors of both the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Additionally, she spent 15 years in Silicon Valley, helping bring R&D to deployment as a company executive and as a venture capitalist; she is also a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Should Dr. Prabhakar be confirmed, she will be the first woman, first immigrant, and first person of color to head OSTP; all inspiring firsts. We would also like to thank Dr. Alondra Nelson for her excellent leadership of OSTP since February.

With so many computing research topics and other research policy issues before the nation today, from the ethics surrounding the use of artificial intelligence, to the complexities of balancing an open research environment against foreign government interference and exploitation of federally supported research, it will be invaluable to have a leader with firsthand knowledge of how to build and sustain research communities, which deliver results for the American people. We look forward to working with Dr. Prabhakar and we hope she is quickly confirmed to her position.

USICA and Competes Act Update: Legislation is Stalled and its Future is Uncertain

[Editor’s Note: CRA’s new Tisdale Policy Fellow for Summer 2022, Dalton Hellwege, contributed to this post.]

When we last left the NSF reauthorization legislation in early February, the House of Representatives had just introduced and passed the America COMPETES Act of 2022. We had expected this legislation to head rapidly into a conferencing process with the Senate’s US Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), where a compromise bill would be hammered out. Unfortunately, the process has been much slower to progress than expected and has all but ground to a halt. For example, members of the conference committee weren’t announced until April. And now the legislation appears to be falling prey to more pressing political topics, such as gun control, and political calculations with an eye toward the approaching Midterm Elections.

The conference committee did hold a public “kickoff” meeting in mid-May where all 107 members of the committee were given two minutes to provide a statement on their views and priorities with this legislation. The meeting was led by the conference committee chair, Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-WA). In her opening statement, Cantwell said, “we know that R&D is less than 1 percent of our gross domestic product invested in federal research compared to 2 percent in the ’60s. That 2 percent kept us competitive with innovations from DARPA, NASA, DOE, NSF and helped us to win the Cold War. But today, we are losing ground in a number of areas, semiconductors, artificial intelligence, pharmaceuticals, energy revolution.”

Other champions of NSF and scientific research had a chance to speak at the event. Both the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Frank Lucas (R-OK), spoke in the favor of the research provisions in the legislation and advocated for NSF. Chairwoman Johnson said, “it is time for us to revitalize federal support for the kinds of research and development initiatives that have long made the U.S. a beacon of excellence in science and innovation.” Rep. Lucas was critical of the process that produced the COMPETES Act legislation but was in favor of the scientific research sections: “I’m committed in good faith towards a bill that strengthens American science and technology and protects our threats from Chinese leadership.” All in all, a majority of the conferees were supportive of the legislation and spoke of its importance to the nation.

However, the conference committee has taken few public actions since this kickoff event. That likely means that the horse-trading process (i.e.: seeing what provisions of the two bills will be cut, retained, and/or modified in order to get enough votes for passage of the legislation) has begun behind closed doors. Unfortunately, that makes gauging the prospects for advancement difficult. An agreement could be struck very quickly if there is enough support to get something done. Or it can get bogged down in negotiations and be delayed.

There are two reasons the legislation could get held up. The first is that it falls prey to more pressing matters, such as the before mentioned gun-control legislation. Congress only has so many days it can vote on matters. And since this is not must-pass legislation, it lacks the extra push a deadline can provide. The other reason for a delay is political: Republicans view the coming November Midterm elections as very favorable to them, so why give Congressional Democrats a legislative win? Especially on a matter that could be handle after the election (or even next year, when Congressional Republicans could craft their own legislation).

There is also mounting criticism that the White House should be more involved in getting a bill passed. But that is a double-edged sword; if President Biden pushes too much for a bill, Republicans could balk at the idea of appearing to work too closely with a Democratic President just before facing voters.

The unfortunate reality is we won’t know more until it happens. We’ll keep our ears to the ground and report any new developments; please keep checking back for updates.

Former CRA Board Chair Dan Reed Elected Chair of the National Science Board

Last week, the National Science Board (NSB) elected former CRA Board Chair Daniel Reed, from the University of Utah, as its next chair. The NSB oversees the operations of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and, “identifies issues that are critical to NSF’s future, approves NSF’s strategic budget directions and the annual budget submission to the Office of Management and Budget, and approves new major programs and awards,” according to the body’s website. It also serves as, “an independent body of advisors to the President and Congress on policy matters related to science and engineering and education in science and engineering.” Dr. Reed was appointed to the NSB in 2018. He served on the CRA Board of Directors from 1999 to 2009, was chair from 2005 to 2009, and currently serves on the CRA Government Affairs Committee.

At this critical juncture for NSF — with the focus on emerging technologies, the creation of the new Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP), and the pending NSF legislation in Congress which will likely reshape the mission of the agency — it’s crucial to have someone from the computing and IT research community helping to steer the NSB in its oversight of the agency and in crafting Federal science policy. We wish to congratulate Dr. Reed on this great honor, and we look forward to working with him as he continues to serve the Nation in this new role!

Roundup of FY2023 Research Agency Requests: Generally Good Numbers for the Budget Requests for NIST, NIH, and NASA, with Some Caveats

In our continuing series following the Biden Administration’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget request, we close out with a roundup of an assortment of Federal research agencies. These include the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and NASA. All three agencies received good requests, though there are some details that make the final assessments more nuanced.

First, let’s look at NASA. Under the President’s plan, the space agency would receive an 8.3 percent increase, going from $24.00 billion in FY22 to $26.00 billion in FY23. NASA Science, which handles the research funding at the agency, would get an increase though not as good: 5.1 percent, going from $7.60 billion in FY22 to $7.99 billion in FY23.

FY21 FY22 FY23 PBR $ Change % Change
NASA Total $22.27B $24.00B $26.00B +$2.00B +8.3%
Science $7.30B $7.60B $7.99B +$390M +5.1%

The next agency, NIST, is one of the big winners under the Biden Administration’s budget request. The top line for the agency would see a large increase of 20 percent, going from $1.23 billion in FY22 to $1.48 billion in FY23. The institutes’ Science and Technical Research and Services (STRS) account, where the majority of the agency’s research is housed, would see an only slightly smaller increase of 15 percent; going from $850 million in FY22 to $975 million in FY23.

FY21 FY22 FY23 PBR $ Change % Change
NIST Total $1.03B $1.23B $1.48B +$250M +20%
STRS $788M $850M $975M +$125M +15%

Finally, we come to the National Institutes of Health, the research agency request which has that nuance. Under the President’s plan, the agency would go from $44.96 billion in FY22 to $49.04 billion in FY23, an increase of $4.08 billion or 9.1 percent. The nuance comes in with the proposed budget for ARPA-H, or Advanced Research Project Agency, Health. Established in the 2022 Omnibus, ARPA-H would go from its initial budget of $1 billion in FY22 to $5 billion for FY23. According to the President’s plan, the program would be a part of NIH; that would mean its $4 billion increase would be the vast majority of the larger agency’s increase, leaving the other parts of NIH to receive flat funding or slight cuts.

FY21 FY22 FY23 PBR $ Change % Change
NIH Total $42.90B $44.96B $49.04B +$4.08B +9.1%
ARPA-H NA $1.0B $5.0B +$4.0B +500%

ARPA-H is likely to have a complicated year, from a policy perspective. While it was established in last year’s Omnibus, it still will require an authorization bill (ie: policy bill) to establish its operations. There is currently a legislative fight brewing over where the agency will be located, bureaucratically and physically. The Administration wants ARPA-H under NIH, while several Congressional leaders want it to be independent of NIH’s culture (and NIH’s physical location in Bethesda, MD) and under the Department of Health & Human Services. Secretary of Health Xavier Becerra has suggested a compromise where ARPA-H would be located within NIH but its director would report directly to the Secretary of Health; the Secretary recently issued a noticed in the Federal Register implementing this compromise. It will be interesting to see Congress’ reaction to this action.

ARAP-H is a major priority of the Biden Administration this year, as well as several members of Congress, so we can expect to see some wheeling and dealing as the year progresses. But we’ll have to let this process play out before we know how things will finally fall.

As with the other research accounts we’ve profiled, with the exception of the defense research accounts, these are a great place for the budget process to start. However, it’s worthwhile to temper expectations, as it is unlikely that all these increases will pass Congress as proposed (see: 2022 Omnibus). But, as with last year’s budget requests, it’s great to see scientific research be given this level of support.

Next steps in the FY23 budget process are for each chamber of Congress to come up with their individual funding plans. That process is beginning in earnest and should get into full swing by the beginning of the summer. We’ll have updates as those bills become public; keep checking back for more information.

Department of Energy FY 2023 Request: Increases for ASCR and ARPA-E with Focus on Exascale, AI, and QIS and Other Administration Priorities

In our continuing series following the Biden Administration’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget request, we now turn to the Department of Energy. The two key parts of DOE that are of concern to the computing community are the Office of Science (SC), home to most of the agency’s basic research support, and ARPA-E, or the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

Regular readers will notice that something is missing in this year’s request: ARPA-Climate, or ARPA-C. Last year, President Biden recommended the establishment of this new ARPA program at DOE to focus on climate change research. That didn’t get much traction in Congress and was never funded; it appears that the Biden Administration will not continue to pursue this as a priority. Instead, they are focusing their climate research efforts in ARPA-E. Elsewhere in DOE’s request you’ll see the general Biden Administration themes and priorities of focusing on climate change, health and pandemic readiness programs, scientific innovation for national competitiveness, and racial equity efforts.

The President’s FY23 request for DOE SC is $7.80 billion; which is an increase of $320 million, or 4.3 percent, compared to the approved FY22 Omnibus level of $7.48 billion. The increase goes to, “Administration priorities including basic research on climate change and clean energy, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and biopreparedness.” The Office of Science is also continuing its RENEW (Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce) program, doubling the initiative to, “expand targeted efforts to increase participation and retention of underrepresented groups in SC research activities,” and, “to ensure a future science workforce that is creative, innovative, and capable of meeting the nation’s needs via proactive stewardship of talent with diverse ideas and backgrounds.” The request will support, “ongoing investments in priority areas including microelectronics, critical materials, exascale computing, fundamental science to transform manufacturing, and accelerator science and technology.”

Within the Office of Science account, the Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program – home to most of SCs computing research programs – would appear to fare less well, but its only appearances. The program would be funded at $1.07 billion, which is an increase of $30 million, or 2.9 percent, over last year. As with last year’s request, and the FY22 Omnibus mark, the Exascale Computing Project line-item is reduced heavily (-54 percent) due to construction projects nearing completion; meanwhile, all other subaccounts, including the research ones, get a healthy increase of 9.4 percent, generally. The increases to ASCR’s research will:

“advance science and U.S. competitiveness through investments in computational research, applied mathematics, and computer science, as well as development and operation of multiple, large, high performance and leadership computing user facilities and high performance networking. The efforts prioritize basic research in applied mathematics and computer science with emphasis on the challenges of data intensive science, including AI and ML, and future computing technologies.”

The Office of Science is also standing up three new initiatives: Energy Earthshots; Funding for Accelerated, Inclusive Research (FAIR); and Accelerate Innovations in Emerging Technologies (Accelerate). The Energy Earthshots is a climate research program which will, “bring together multi-investigator, multi-disciplinary teams to address key research challenges at the interface between basic research and applied research and development activities.” The FAIR initiative, “will support a directed effort to fund clean energy, climate, and related activities at minority serving institutions (MSIs), including historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs);” the program’s goal is to, “increase research capacity and support faculty at HBCUs and other MSIs by funding core research relevant to the SC mission at these institutions.” Finally, the Accelerate program, “aims to drive scientific discovery for sustainable production of new technologies across the innovation continuum, to train a STEM workforce to support industries of the future, and to meet the nation’s needs for abundant clean energy, a sustainable environment, and national security.”

As for ARPA-E the agency would see a healthy increase. Under the President’s plan ARPA-E would receive $700 million, an increase of $250 million over last year, or 56 percent. As mentioned above, the Biden Administration is proposing to expand ARPA-E’s scope to, “include R&D on climate adaptation and resilience innovations.”

FY21 FY22 FY23 PBR $ Change % Change
DOE SC Total $7.03B $7.48B $7.80B +$320M +4.3%
ASCR $1.02B $1.04B $1.07B +$30M +2.9%
ARPA-E $427M $450M $700M +$250M +56%

The Department of Energy’s budget is now in Congress’ hands, and we’ll continue to track its progress. Please keep checking back for more updates and additional information.

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