Computing Research Policy Blog

President Biden Releases Some Topline Budget Numbers for Fiscal Year 2024; Numbers for Multiple Science Agencies Do Well; NSF Receives 14% Increase

Today, the Biden Administration released some details of their $6.9 trillion budget request for Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24). As has happened the last several years, the numbers released today are only high-level numbers for some agencies and lack finer details of directorates and programs at the assorted federal departments and agencies. More details are expected to be released in the coming days and weeks. In spite of the lack of details, it is still possible to have a high-level view of the Administration’s plans; from what we see in this request, research agencies across the federal government will do quite well under President Biden’s budget request, much as they did in last year’s request.

Many of the general themes of this budget proposal are the same as with previous budgets from the Biden Administration. The Administration continues to focus on climate change; health and pandemic readiness programs; scientific innovation in critical and emerging technologies; and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

The President’s FY24 proposal calls for $886.4 billion for defense-related programs, which is $28 billion more than current levels (or a 3.3 percent increase); and $809.1 billion for domestic spending, which is $49.2 billion more than FY23 (or a 6.5 percent increase). That non-defense programs received a larger increase than defense programs will likely not be greeted warmly by many in Congress. Defense hawks on Capitol Hill have been pushing for higher levels of defense spending in order to confront more threats like China, Russia, and other areas in the world. This difference in the two pots of money will likely be a continuing talking point throughout the budgetary process.

Implementation of the recently pass Chips and Science Act features prominently in the Administration’s request and justification. The President’s plan provides, “$25 billion, an increase of approximately $6.5 billion from the 2023 enacted level, for…authorized activities;” that amount is distributed among several agencies, with, “$11.3 billion at the National Science Foundation, $8.8 billion at the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, [and] $1 billion at NIST.”

Let’s get into the details that were released:

National Science Foundation: Topline $11.3 billion, an increase of $1.40 billion, or 14 percent, over FY23 Omnibus levels. As with last year’s President’s request, NSF is the big winner among the science agencies. The Administration specifically calls out NSF as playing, “a key role in the CHIPS and Science Act with its focus on U.S. leadership in new technologies—from artificial intelligence to biotechnology and computing—all of which are critical to both America’s future economic competitiveness and U.S. national security.”

Unfortunately, numbers for Research and Related Activities (RRA) and the STEM Education Directorate (EDU) were not included in the information that was released today. Likewise, a topline number for the CISE Directorate was not released. However, many topics that fall under CISE’s mission do get mentioned. Under the heading, “Fosters Scientific and Technological Advances,” the President’s request provides, “$2 billion for research and development to maintain America’s edge in the industries of tomorrow, including advanced manufacturing, advanced wireless, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, microelectronics and semiconductors, and quantum information science.” Specifics on the $2 billion were not included.

Some details were released for the Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) Directorate, including a topline number. TIP would receive $1.2 billion under the President’s plan; that would make it one of the highest funded directorates within RRA (compared to last year’s requested numbers). It’s hard to tell just yet if this is an increase over last year’s budget, as NSF hasn’t released budget numbers for FY22 or FY23 for TIP. However, it is likely an increase as Congress approved of NSF’s plans for TIP and encouraged them to move forward. Some additional details, TIP’s Regional Innovation Engines program is specifically cited to receive $300 million; the Engines program brings, “together State and local governments, institutions of higher education, labor unions, businesses, and community-based organizations across the Nation to galvanize use-inspired research, technology translation, and workforce development.”

Department of Energy, Office of Science: Topline $8.8 billion, an increase of $700 million or 8.6 percent over FY23 Omnibus levels. Unfortunately, like with NSF, details for the Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program, home to most of SCs computing research programs, and the Advanced Research Project Agency -Energy (ARPA-E) were not included.

The budget document identifies several areas that the department plans to focus its investments: “support cutting-edge research at the national laboratories and universities and building and operating world-class scientific user facilities; advance the Nation’s understanding of climate change; identify and accelerate novel technologies for clean energy solutions, including a historic $1 billion investment in the acceleration of efforts to achieve fusion…; provide new computing insight through quantum information science and artificial intelligence that addresses scientific challenges; expanding innovation in the microelectronics ecosystem; leverage data, analytics, and computational infrastructure to strengthen and support U.S. biodefense and pandemic preparedness strategies and plans; and position the United States to meet the demand for isotopes.”

NASA: Topline $27.2 billion, an increase of $1.8 billion or 7.1 percent over FY23 levels. The justification for the space agency’s FY24 budget is to, “supports human and robotic exploration of the Moon; invests in new technologies to improve the Nation’s space capabilities; and promotes cutting-edge Earth-observing satellites and green aviation research to help address pressing environmental challenges.” Details for the NASA Science program were not included.

Agencies toplines not included in today’s release:

• National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST)
• National Institutes of Health (NIH)
• Department of Defense Research – Defense Secretary Austin put out a press release; saying details will be released on Monday March 13th.


What happens now? More details should be released early next week. After that, the budget process heads to both chambers of Congress for deliberations. While these initial numbers look very good, it’s important to keep our expectations in check. This fiscal year is expected to be long and very rocky. The Republican led House of Representatives has vowed to cut budgets back to Fiscal Year 2022 levels. Their view is federal spending has gotten out of hand and needs to be pared back. It’s unclear how the Senate will operate but it will depend heavily on how many Republican Senators share their House counterparts’ views and demand budget cuts. We have heard from several sources that hard budget decisions will need to be made this year, and the research community should expect some bad budget numbers from Congress, particularly from the House. But at this time, it’s difficult to know how the budget process will play out.

But we’ll be keeping track of developments, as well as have our normal detailed dives into specific agency’s requests, so be sure to check back for more information.

FY23 Update: Omnibus Numbers Released; NSF Receives Historic Budget Increase

**Please Note: this post will be updated, as there are discrepancies between the numbers released by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees; our analysis may change as we receive more information. As well, the information that covers the defense research accounts is incomplete; we will wait for additional information to be released by the Congressional committees before providing analysis for those accounts.**

**Update 12/22/22** – The Senate passed the FY23 Omnibus Thursday afternoon, on a 68-29 vote, sending it to the House for consideration. It is expected to pass the House quickly.

**Update 12/23/22** – The House passed the FY23 Omnibus Friday afternoon, on a 225-201-1 vote. This sends the legislation to President Biden to be signed into law. Fiscal Year 2023 is complete.

Original Post: Early Tuesday morning, Congressional appropriators released their Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) Omnibus funding legislation. The proposed bill, the result of months of negotiations between Congressional Democrats and Republicans, contains a 12 percent increase for the National Science Foundation, the, “largest dollar increase for NSF of all time and the largest percentage increase for the Foundation in more than two decades.” The bill, coming three months after the fiscal year began at the beginning of October, will finalize the FY23 budget and complete the very last item on the 117th Congress’ to-do list. Congress has to the end of the week to pass the legislation and send it to the President’s desk to be signed into law; all signs are pointing to that happening.

This funding legislation is the result of a number of things coming together. First, is the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act over the summer, the landmark piece of legislation that provided emergency appropriations for semiconductor manufacturing and research, as well as large funding authorizations for several science agencies, NSF in particular. Those authorizations were only policy, not actual dollars; Congress still needed to appropriate the funds for the science agencies to spend them. The research community has been advocating for those authorization levels to become actual dollars since the CHIPS Act’s passage. Those efforts clearly paid off.

Second, this is also the final legacy bill for several Congressional champions of scientific research. Most notable are Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), the out-going chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, who is retiring at the end of this Congress; and Speaker Pelosi stepping down as the leader of the House Democratic Caucus. This was a final chance to provide support for several policy items, science being just one of many.

Now, let’s get into the details:


The National Science Foundation would receive $9.90 billion for FY23, an increase of $1.06 billion over last year or +12 percent. That number comes with an asterisk, as the total number is broken up between the CJS section of the bill ($9.54 billion) and the supplemental section ($335 million). The supplemental funding is marked for implementing the CHIPS Act sections of the bill; more on this in a moment.

As for the funding levels of the subaccounts of the Foundation, the Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account, which hosts NSF’s research portfolio, would receive an 8.3 percent increase, up from $7.20 billion in FY22 to $7.80 billion for FY23. The Directorate for STEM Education (EDU), formerly the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate, would also see an increase of 36 percent, going from $1.01 billion in FY22 to $1.37 billion in FY23.

As for the TIP Directorate, no dollar amount is provided, which is normal for the directorates within RRA. However, in the explanatory statement for Division B, which covers NSF, the appropriators say, “the agreement (ie: the legislation) recognizes NSF’s critical role in driving U.S. scientific and technological innovation and supports,” the TIP Directorate. This gives NSF the green-light to go ahead with their plans for TIP without specific funding instructions from Congress. The Administration had requested $880 million in its budget request for TIP back in March, so that will likely be what the agency will try to spend. There is also additional money for RRA in the supplemental section of the bill (more below) which will be used for CHIPS Act implementation; this will likely be used for TIP.

As for the supplemental funding section, NSF would receive the following:

  • $2.5 million for RRA for, “for necessary expenses related to damage to research facilities and scientific equipment in calendar year 2022;”
  • $210 million is included for research and related activities to implement CHIPS Act provisions;
  • $125 million is provided for STEM education programs to implement CHIPS Act provisions.

It’s not clear why the appropriators put these funds in the supplemental funding section. It could be a work-around, to satisfy Republican demands to not increase non-defense spending, while still providing the funding to implement a popular piece of legislation (i.e.: CHIPS). Historically, Congress does not treat emergency supplementals like the regular appropriation bills and thinks of them as a special category of funding; this is mostly for political expediency.

The appropriators say many good things about NSF in their explanatory statement, which allows Congress to provide more detail and direction on policy items. Congress support’s NSF’s investments in AI, encouraging the agency to, “invest in the ethical and safe development of Al and to continue the expansion of the National Al Research Institutes.” Congress also continues to support the National Quantum Initiative, supporting the President’s request in this area and encouraging NSF to continue their work. There are a number of provisions about expanding research capacity at HBCUs and MSIs. Also, regional diversity in research funding is a new issue of importance to Congress; they tell NSF to, “the maximum extent possible,” to provide, “15.5 percent of NSF research funding and 16 percent of scholarship funding go to EPSCoR States in fiscal year 2023,” and provides $245M for the program. EPSCoR (Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) is NSF’s program to set aside money for states that do not receive the majority of the agency’s research funding; this program’s expansion was a major part of the CHIPS Act. Finally, there is a section on Research Security, which supports NSF’s, “initiative to create clear guidelines that inform researchers and universities on disclosure requirements pertaining to research security.”

FY22 FY23 PBR FY23 House FY23 Senate FY23 Final $ Change % Change
NSF Total $8.84B $10.50B $9.63B $10.34B $9.90B +$1.06B +12%
R&RA $7.20B $8.43B $7.71B $8.30B $7.80B +$600M +8.3%
EDU/EHR $1.01B $1.38B $1.25B $1.30B $1.37B +$360M +36%

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) numbers are the best of the research agencies and it’s the big winner within the CJS section of the Omnibus. The top line for the agency would be well funded, receiving $1.65 billion in FY23, which would be an increase of $420 million or a 34 percent increase. The institutes’ Science and Technical Research and Services (STRS) account, where the majority of the agency’s research is housed, would also see a healthy increase for FY23: $953 million, which is $103 million more (+12 percent) than it received for FY22.

FY22 FY23 PBR FY23 House FY23 Senate FY23 Final $ Change % Change
NIST Total $1.23B $1.48B $1.47B $1.70B $1.65B +$420M +34%
STRS $850M $975M $953M $975M $953M +$103M +12%

NASA’s budget does not fare as well overall as the other research agencies, but still receives increases. The top line for the agency goes from $24 billion in FY22 to $25.40 billion in FY23, an increase of $1.4 billion or 5.8 percent. That is below both the House (+6.3 percent) and Senate (+8.3 percent) marks.

As for the NASA Science account, it would receive a smaller increase of 2.6 percent, going from $7.60 billion in FY22 to $7.80 billion in FY23 (an increase of $200 million). Much like the agency’s top line, these numbers are below both the House (+4.1 percent) and Senate (+5.3 percent) marks.

FY22 FY23 PBR FY23 House FY23 Senate FY23 Final $ Change % Change
NASA Total $24.00B $26.00B $25.50B $26.00B $25.40B +$1.4B +5.8%
Science $7.60B $7.99B $7.91B $8.00B $7.80B +$200M +2.6%

Energy: Dept of Energy, ASCR, and ARPA-E

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science would receive a solid increase in the FY23 Omnibus. The agency’s budget would go from $7.48 billion in FY22 to $8.10 billion in FY23, an increase of 8.3 percent or $620 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 deceptively good increase of 2.9 percent – going from $1.04 billion in FY22 to $1.07 billion in FY23. I say deceptive because, as with last year’s budget number, the ASCR construction subaccounts receive large decreases due to their projects coming closer to completion. Meanwhile the ASCR research subaccounts would receive increases. In fact, the $1.07 billion number is almost exactly what the Administration requested for the program in the Spring.

Finally, the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, or ARPA-E, would receive an increase but not near the House (+22 percent) or Senate (+27 percent) plans. The agency would be funded at $470 million in FY23, an increase of 4.4 percent or $20 million over FY22 ($450 million).

FY22 FY23 PBR FY23 House FY23 Senate FY23 Final $ Change % Change
DOE SC Total $7.48B $7.80B $8.00B $8.10B $8.10B +$620M +8.3%
ASCR $1.04B $1.07B $1.05B $1.08B $1.07B +$30M +2.9%
ARPA-E $450M $700M $550M $570M $470M +$20M +4.4%

Defense: DOD and DARPA

12/21/22: The legislative language the Appropriation Committees released on December 20th is incomplete for the defense research accounts. This limits CRA’s ability to provide a full analysis of these accounts. We are still monitoring the situation and hope that the committees release more information in the near future. Once we have those details, we will update this post.

Update 12/22/22: Both AIP FYI and AAAS were able to assemble a complete picture of the funding situation at the defense research agencies with the information that has been released. While there are slight differences between the two analysis’s, they are close enough to understand what is happening; the specific numbers may be updated, once we have more information.

Basic Research (6.1) would receive an increase, going from $2.76 billion in FY22 to $2.92 billion in FY23, an increase of 5.8 percent or $160 million.

The Applied Research (6.2) account fairs much the same. The account would see an increase of 13 percent compared to last year’s budget, going from $6.91 billion in FY22 to $7.80 billion (+$890 million) in FY23.

The Advanced Technology Development (6.3) account would receive the biggest increase, going from $9.22 billion in FY22 to $11.61 billion in FY23; an increase of $2.39 billion or 26 percent.

Finally, DARPA would also receive an increase over FY22. The agency would go from $3.87 billion in FY22 to $4.06 billion in the FY23 Omnibus, an increase of 4.9 percent or $190 million. This is roughly what the House proposed in their funding plan and is above the Senate’s (which proposed a 1.8 percent cut).

FY22 FY23 PBR FY23 House FY23 Senate FY23 Final $ Change % Change
DOD 6.1 $2.76B $2.38B $2.60B $3.36B $2.92B +$160M +5.8%
DOD 6.2 $6.91B $5.79B $6.57B $7.00B $7.80B +$890M +13%
DOD 6.3 $9.22B $8.29B $9.16B $10.17B $11.61B +$2.39B +26%
DARPA $3.87B $4.12B $4.06B $3.80B $4.06B +$190M +4.9%

Health: NIH and ARPA-H

NIH’s budget requires some explanation. There was a long policy debate in Congress this year about where ARPA-H, the Advanced Research Project Agency – Health, should reside bureaucratically. The Biden Administration wanted the agency in NIH, while many champions in Congress wanted it within the Department of Health and Human Services. Ultimately, the Congressional champions won out.

This is relevant in order to properly compare last year’s NIH budget, which contained ARPA-H, to its final FY23 budget, which does not. In the language released yesterday, NIH would be funded at $47.50 billion for FY23, which would be an increase of $1.5 billion, or 3.3 percent, over FY22 levels ($46 billion). However, the $46 billion from last year contained $1 billion for ARPA-H; removing that and comparing the new numbers (FY22 – $45 billion vs FY23 – $47.5 billion), gives a more apples-to-apples comparison, and NIH would increase by 5.6 percent.

Update 12/22/22: After further examination of the bill’s text, our initial understanding of where ARPA-H, the Advanced Research Project Agency – Health, will be located was not accurate. The program would be located bureaucratically within NIH but, in the Labor, Health, and Human Services explanatory statement, the appropriators expect, “ARPA-H to be physically located away from the main NIH campus.” Also, “recruitment from the existing NIH workforce should be avoided.” The appropriators instead recommend that ARPA-H recruit from, “industry, academia, and think tanks, as well as from proven advanced research project organizations.” The view among many Congressional champions of ARPA-H is that NIH’s research culture is too risk averse and, to reap the most benefits from an ARPA program, it needs to have a culture distinct from the larger research agency.

This changes the overall read of NIH’s budget, as the agency’s topline would include ARPA-H and allow a direct comparison to last year’s budget number. NIH would be funded at $47.50 billion for FY23, which would be an increase of $1.5 billion, or 3.3 percent, over FY22 levels ($46 billion).

Original post: As for ARPA-H, it would increase by 50 percent, going from $1 billion in FY22 to $1.50 billion in FY23. The increase would go to, “to accelerate the pace of scientific breakthroughs for diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer.”

FY22 FY23 PBR FY23 House FY23 Senate FY23 Final $ Change % Change
NIH Total $46.00B $49.04B $47.46B $48.00B $47.50B +$1.5B +3.3%
ARPA-H $1.00B $5.00B $2.75B $1.00B $1.50B +$500M +50%

Closing Analysis:

Unless something extraordinary happens, these are likely to be the final numbers for Fiscal Year 2023. Congress has until the end of the week (Dec 23rd) to pass a budget. Because of a procedural maneuver, the Senate will pass this first, followed by the House; that should speed up passage. Senate could pass the bill as early as Wednesday. The expectation is this will be passed into law with time to spare.

After a phenomenal summer, where Congress passed the CHIPS and Science Act, reorganizing NSF and making it the lead federal agency in charge of keeping the nation competitive in scientific research and emerging technologies, this Omnibus is an excellent way to close out the fiscal and calendar years. Looking ahead to next year, we will await the President’s release of his Fiscal Year 2024 request; that will likely happen in February. That will set up an interesting year, politically speaking, where we will see how a divided Congress will operate.

FY23 Appropriations Update: Bipartisan, Bicameral Agreement Reached to Finalize Budget; One Week CR Moving Forward

It has been a slow process for Congress to finalize the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. With the chaos caused by the fallout of the Midterm Election in November, and the typical political gamesmanship that happens when Congress tries to finish their work at the end of the year, it’s a good sign that late last night Congressional appropriators announced a bipartisan, bicameral agreement to finalize the yearly federal budget. That’s the good news.

The worrying news is that no details of the agreement have been made public. However, the word around Washington is that appropriators have largely settled on a 10 percent increase in defense spending. That means the disagreement has been on nondefense spending, which includes most federal research agencies. While we are also hearing that spending is likely get a boost too, this brings to mind how Fiscal Year 2022 (ie: last year’s budget) was finalized. That legislation was disappointing, particularly for NSF. But we will have to wait for legislative language to be released before knowing anything specific.

While the appropriators work, both chambers will move forward with a one-week continuing resolution (CR) to buy them time. The new deadline will be December 23rd. The House is expected to vote on the CR today; the Senate will likely act late Thursday or Friday. The situation is still fluid, so please keep checking back for more updates.

NITRD Releases Supplement to President’s FY23 Annual Budget, Giving the Community First Opportunity to see Details on IT and AI R&D Expenditures for FY22

The Federal Government invested $8.76 billion in Information Technology R&D in Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) – an increase of $410 million, or 4.9 percent over the previous year – according to an Administration report issued on Tuesday. The report is a supplement to the President’s FY23 Budget Request issued by the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Program, the coordinating office for the 26 member agencies of the Federal government that are engaged in IT R&D. This supplement, which is mandated by law, “provides a technical summary of NITRD members’ budget investments and activities planned and coordinated through the NITRD Program from FY 2021 through FY 2023.” For the community, the usefulness of the document is seeing how much the Federal research agencies spent in FY22 (ie: the previous fiscal year) and in which research areas; we did not have that information until now.

The report covers all 26 member agencies of NITRD, including NSF, NIH, and DARPA. That is then further broken down into “Program Component Areas,” or PCAs, which focus on key research areas.

Particularly noteworthy is the PCA covering Artificial Intelligence (AI). The report states that across all Federal research agencies, the government spent $2.58 billion on AI R&D in FY22. That represents an increase of $130 million, or +5.3 percent, over the previous fiscal year. Looking at specific research agencies, NSF ($654 million), NIH ($551 million), DARPA ($457 million), and the Dept of Defense ($391 million) were the major funders of AI R&D in FY22, according to the report, with DOE Office of Science ($130 million) close behind.

While overall the numbers for AI R&D show an increase, specific agencies did take a step back in funding levels in FY22. For example, NSF’s AI spending dropped by $28 million over the previous year and DOE SC’s spending dropped by $10 million. It’s not clear if this is a reporting issue – that research characterized as AI-related changed from year to year – or if it represented an actual reduction in investment in AI research year-over-year. When we find out we’ll update this post.

NITRD is, “the Nation’s primary source of federally funded research and development in advanced information technologies (IT) in computing, networking, and software,” and has coordinated Federal R&D investments in advanced digital technologies for over 30 years. NITRD has 26 member agencies, more than 80 participating agencies, and Federal investments in the NITRD Program, “have increased from $7.8 billion requested in FY 2022 to $9.6 billion requested in FY 2023” according to the Biden Administration. NITRD also released a Cybersecurity R&D Strategic Plan Implementation Roadmap on Tuesday.

It’s worth noting that this is just a report to Congress showing in detail the President’s FY23 Budget Request, which was released in March, for IT and AI R&D programs that are coordinated through NITRD. Congress still must appropriate funds for Fiscal Year 2023, a matter that the legislature is dragging its feet on. But this report is useful as a status check on the nation’s IT and AI research investment, which appears to be healthy and mostly growing.

Post 2022 Election Analysis: Control of Congress, Outlook for 2023, Impact on Lame Duck Session, and Finalizing FY23 Budget

The 2022 Midterm Elections have come and gone, yet most of Washington is still trying to make sense of what happened. While it’s common knowledge that Republicans underperformed, they still were able to secure a majority in the House of Representatives, having won the 5 seats they needed to secure the majority. That majority is likely to expand by a few more seats, though by how much is still uncertain. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have likely expanded their majority in the Senate, though we will have to wait for the results of the runoff election in Georgia to be certain.

What does this mean for next year? To say the Republican majority in the House is precariously small is an understatement. Having only a 4 or 5 seat majority will mean the House Republican leadership will have no room for defections on legislative votes. And given the highly independent nature of the most conservative members of the GOP House Caucus (ie: the Freedom Caucus), we can expect many votes to be nail-bitters or even see legislation pulled from consideration. There is also an open question of how House Republican leaders will maintain control and if they will need to put down constant no-confidence revolts from their caucus; as just one example, the vote for Rep. McCarthy (R-CA) to become Speaker of the House is uncertain at this time.

Even with those challenges, due to the nature of the House as a majority-rules chamber, House Republicans are in a naturally strong political position to enact their agenda. They will also have a perch to launch investigations into the Biden Administration at will, which will likely disrupt the President and various Federal Department’s operations. But how much the House Republicans stick together will determine how successful they will be in the majority.

On the Democrat side of the House, things are only slightly clearer. With Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer announcing they are stepping out of their leadership positions, the House Democrats will have brand new leaders in almost all of their top roles. While this is unlikely to cause the same problems that the GOP is dealing with, there is still likely to be growing pains. Assuming the new leadership is able to keep their caucus together on key votes (historically not a strength of the Democratic Party), they could wield significant influence in a closely divided chamber. In one hypothetical scenario: Republican leadership, wanting to pass a yearly budget to avoid a government shutdown, may have to trade funding levels or policy riders to secure Democratic votes for passage because the full GOP Caucus won’t support the proposed budget language. But will Republican House leaders be willing to work across the aisle to pass key legislation? Time will tell.

Looking at the Senate, little is likely to change. With only a slightly expanded Democrat majority, Senate Republicans will still be in a strong position to influence how the chamber operates due to how the Senate works, which provides significant influence to the minority party. As well, the Democrat senators sitting on the political divide (ie: Senator Manchin (D-WV) and Senator Sinema (D-AZ)) are likely to still command much influence on key votes. We can expect the Senate to change very little and it will remain a legislative bottleneck.

In short, we are likely to see a very divided Congress for the next two years. Recent history says that does not bode well to getting much done. In one specific case, we can expect the annual budget process to be even more difficult than it has been in recent years.

Speaking of the budget, what does this mean for the rest of 2022 (ie: the lame duck session) and finalizing the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget? The typical political calculus would be that both sides would want to clear the deck this calendar year, so that the new Congress can focus on new items next year. That would mean finalizing the FY23 budget before the end of the year. However, there is a possibility that political calculus doesn’t hold; we’re already hearing rumblings that Congress may need to punt on the budget until next calendar year due to all the items on the lame duck session’s to-do list. Should that happen, it would mean we could expect FY23 to not be finalized until March, at the earliest.

Finally, what does this mean for science policy and research funding? With regard to policy issues that affect the research community, we shouldn’t see too much change. Frank Lucas (R-OK) is expected to become the chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee; he has been a staunch ally of scientific research, with helping to champion the early parts of what became the Chips and Science Act. It’s likely we will see more efforts on research security and competitiveness with China on the committee’s agenda, but most things shouldn’t change too much.

With regard to annual funding, the outlook is less good. As shown with finalizing the FY23 budget, we can expect delays, and long delays at that. The dreaded year-long continuing resolution, where Federal agency accounts are funded at the previous year’s levels, could be even more likely over the next two years. But if the budget is handled at some point, it is hard to tell if we will get the Chips and Science Act funding levels, or a repeat of last year’s final budget numbers. Republicans are much more bullish on increasing defense spending, while keeping non-defense accounts flat (or cut them); we should expect that to continue and we will need to modify what we emphasize in our message to lawmakers accordingly.

Still many unknowns exist. We’ll have to see how this Congress handles the FY23 budget in the next few weeks; that will give us our first indication of what to expect. After that, the 2023 calendar year is likely to see a lot of political gridlock. And, of course, the 2024 Presidential Election is already gearing up. We’re in for a long two years.

U.S. Must Follow Through on NSF Funding or Risk Falling Behind Competitors, Says Former CRA Board Chair

In an opinion piece published in The Hill, Dan Reed, former CRA Board Chair and current National Science Board Chair, and Darío Gil, a member of the National Science Board and senior vice president and Director of IBM Research, say that Congress must follow through on fully funding NSF or risk dooming the CHIPS and Science Act.

As regular readers will recall, in July, Congress passed, and President Biden quickly signed into law, the CHIPS and Science Act. In that law, Congress authorized NSF’s budget to double in five years; within that increase, the Research & Related Activities (RRA) account and the Directorate for STEM Education (EDU) would double and triple, respectively. The law also codified the new Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnership (TIP) as a part of RRA and authorized it to be a $4.1 billion account within RRA. These actions were meant to expand NSF’s mission and position the agency as the nation’s lead science agency for innovation and to maintain the country’s competitiveness in new research fields and technology.

The issue is this law only authorized these budgets numbers; they did not appropriate the funds. Put another way, the CHIPS and Science Act set Federal policy that NSF should be funded at these levels. But Congress would still need to appropriate the funds in the annual Federal budget process. Hence Reed and Gil’s opinion piece, insisting that Congress must follow through on these funding goals in order to reap the full benefits of the law.

In their piece, Reed and Gil make the case that this is not just about research funding, but also about training a STEM workforce for the future. “NSF is America’s STEM talent agency; it is poised to develop the STEM workforce at all educational levels to help meet expected shortfalls in talent, including 600,000 cybersecurity jobs, 1.1 million jobs in the bioeconomy, and 3 million additional AI workers.” They also point out several recent examples of how underfunding NSF has led to leaving quality research on the table, and how doing that negatively impacts parts of the country.

Ultimately, this is about the economic and national security health of the country. As Reed and Gil say, “an underfunded NSF holds the nation back. When the U.S. underinvests in discoveries, talent, and translation, we erode America’s ability to invent the future and risk both our economic competitiveness and national security.”

White House Announces New Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights

The Biden Administration, acting through the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), released yesterday a set of principles aimed at creating a “Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights.” The goal of the blueprint is to, “help guide the design, development, and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) and other automated systems so that they protect the rights of the American public.”

From Left to right: Dr. Alondra Nelson, Deputy Assistant to the President and OSTP Deputy Director for Science and Society; U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair Charlotte Burrows; Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra; Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra; and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

Within the proposal, OSTP, “identified five principles that should guide the design, use, and deployment of automated systems to protect the American public in the age of artificial intelligence.” Those principles, also called “common sense protections,” are: Safe and Effective Systems; Algorithmic Discrimination Protections; Data Privacy; Notice and Explanation; and Human Alternatives, Consideration, and Fallback. As Rohit Chopra, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, pointed out at the rollout event, “fifteen years ago we thought these systems would take bias out; now we know that bias is baked in.”

The white paper includes a technical companion on how to move this plan from “principles to practice,” and an application framework. OSTP says these protections should be entitled to everyone in America and that this blueprint, “offers a vision for a society where protections are embedded from the beginning, where marginalized communities have a voice in the development process, and designers work hard to ensure the benefits of technology reach all people.”

OSTP’s proposal contains no enforcement policies on technology companies and doesn’t recommend any follow-on legislation. But the white paper does highlight existing federal agencies’ commitments to rule making and actions of those agencies to studying the specific impacts of these technologies.

This proposal caps a year-long effort by OSTP to collect feedback and views from the general public, technology companies, and the research community. In fact, CRA’s Computing Community Consortium submitted a formal response to OSTP’s Request for Information on updating the National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan.

Given the concerns voiced over data privacy and consumer protections by members of Congress in recent years, the issue of algorithmic bias, and how to mitigate or avert it, will not go away here in official Washington. The computing community is well positioned to take part in these efforts and debates, contributing its technical expertise. In fact, Alondra Nelson, Deputy Director for Science and Society at OSTP, said at the briefing, “all of us have a role to play.”

PCAST Releases Report on Revitalizing the Nation’s Semiconductor Ecosystem, with Investments in a National Research Agenda a Major Component

On the heels of the Chips and Science Act passage into law in July, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report outlining actions President Biden and the Department of Commerce (DOC) should take to, “maximally leveraging the historic $11 billion commitment appropriated for semiconductor R&D,” in the legislation. PCAST’s recommendation can fit into four broad categories: building a broad coalition, focusing on education and the future workforce, fostering innovation, and setting a national research agenda.

The Chips and Science Act provides funding for the Commerce Department to invest $11 billion over 5 years in semiconductor R&D (there is an additional $39 billion the law appropriates for financial assistance for domestic semiconductor manufacturing). Within that, DOC is to establish a National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) and a National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program (NAPMP). Both of these programs figure heavily in the report’s recommendations (particularly 1, 2, 6, 7, and 10).

Of most note to the research community are recommendations 3, 4, 8, and 9 of the report:

3. The Secretary of Commerce in coordination with the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) should support the establishment of a national microelectronics education and training network by the end of 2023 and allocate funding on the order of $1 billion over the next 5 years to upgrade educational laboratory facilities, support curriculum development, and facilitate hiring of faculty into this field.

4. The Secretary of Commerce should ensure that NSTC-funded research…supports on the order of 2,500 scholarships and research assistantships per year across the educational spectrum.

8. The Secretary of Commerce should ensure that the NSTC founding charter allocates a significant portion of the annual funding, on the order of 30 to 50 percent, to directly fund a national research agenda. This research agenda should be broad in nature and address the following areas: materials, process, and manufacturing technologies; packaging and interconnect technologies; energy-efficient computing and domain-specific accelerators; design automation tools and methods; semiconductor and system security; and semiconductors and life sciences.

9. The NSTC should identify a set of nationwide grand challenges that are enabled through collaboration across the NSTC industrial membership and NSTC-funded research. These grand challenges should span three complementary areas that would benefit from large-scale nationwide collaboration: advanced computing into the zettascale era; significantly reducing design complexity; and proliferating semiconductors in life sciences applications.

The report, in concert with other actions that the Biden Administration has taken, demonstrate that the Biden Administration is moving quickly to implement the Chips and Science Act. But that’s only the “chips” half of the Chips and Science Act; the research policy community here in Washington is working on getting the “science” part of the legislation fulfilled. We are telling Congress to follow through on the research policy provisions of the law and fully fund the research agencies, especially NSF. They can start with the Fiscal Year 2023 budget.

FY23 Appropriations Update: A Continuing Resolution is Coming but When will it Be Passed into Law?

Despite major legislation passing into law this summer, Congress has been slow in finishing up the yearly Federal budget (ie: Fiscal Year 2023). The delay has been over a number of topics unrelated to science research, such as energy-permitting regulations and supplemental funding for things like Ukrainian military assistance. But with the fast-approaching November Midterm elections, Congress is not interested in shutting down the government just before facing voters at the polls. Hence the need for a continuing resolution (CR). Released Monday night, it would fund the government at Fiscal Year 2022 levels till December 16th. Congress has until Friday to pass it to avoid a shut down; while unlikely to happen, a government shut down can never be completely ruled out.

Once we see the results of the ballot box in November, we will have a better idea of how the budget will be finalized. If Republicans win back control of both chambers of Congress, they may to want to delay final consideration until next calendar year, when they have more control of the process. If Democrats retain control of the legislature, then they will likely want to finish the budget before the end of this calendar year. And if there is a split, it’s hard to tell exactly how matters will play out. Keep checking back for more updates.

Dr. Arati Prabhakar Confirmed as Next Presidential Science Advisor

Today the United States Senate confirmed Dr. Arati Prabhakar as the next Presidential Science Advisor and Director of the Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP). Nominated in June by President Biden, Dr. Prabhakar will be also serve as 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 released a statement applauding the President’s nomination of Dr. Prabhakar back in June. We look forward to working with the new Science Advisor and her team to advance the nation’s computing and information technology research.

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