The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have completed their work on the FY 2015 Commerce Justice, Science Appropriations Bills. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) will bring her bill to the floor next week. The House passed its version of the bill on May 30.
Funding for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is provided through this legislation. The House and Senate committee reports accompanying the bills had language in the OSTP sections regarding neuroscience, rare earth materials, medical imaging, public access to federally-funded research, manufacturing competitiveness, and STEM education. Excerpts follow:
Neuroscience (pages 66-67): “The Committee commends OSTP and the Interagency Working Group on Neuroscience (IWGN) for their continuing commitment to neuroscience and urges OSTP and the IWGN to continue their coordination activities and efforts to increase the Nation’s knowledge of the brain. The Committee further urges OSTP and the IWGN to begin implementing key recommendations from the IWGN’s recent report, “Priorities for Accelerating Neuroscience Research through Enhanced Communication, Coordination and Collaboration.” The Committee expects to see these recommendations implemented as quickly and efficiently as possible. Special attention should be given to the recommendations on biomarker efforts, advances in medical imaging research, applications of neuroscience in applied settings (including education) and classifications of brain disorders, as well as the recommendation to establish a Federal neuroscience research portal. The Committee urges OSTP to brief the Committee, no later than 120 days after the enactment of this Act, on the prioritization and implementation status of the IWGN report recommendations.”
Rare Earth materials (page 67): “The Committee anticipates the submission by OSTP of a report requested for fiscal year 2014 on the work of the National Science and Technology Council’s Subcommittee on Critical and Strategic Mineral Supply Chains (CSMSC). The Committee continues to urge the CSMSC Subcommittee to leverage its work into an interagency plan to encourage domestic critical element and mineral production in order to reduce the dependence of the U.S. government and industry on foreign sources of such materials.”
Medical Imaging (page 67): “The Committee believes there is near-term potential to accelerate revolutionary new medical imaging technology, both to enable medical professionals and researchers to combat disease and to support high-skilled manufacturing jobs in the United States. . . . . The Committee encourages OSTP to establish a committee to coordinate these Federal investments in imaging research.”
Public access to federally funded research (page 67): “Major Federal research agencies are in the process of drafting and implementing plans to enable public access to federally funded research findings in accordance with guidance OSTP issued in February 2013. OSTP shall report to the Committee on each agency’s progress in developing, finalizing and implementing its plan. These reports shall be provided semiannually.”
Open Access to Federal Research (page 104): “The Committee has received a report by OSTP on the progress of all Federal agencies in developing and implementing policies to increase public access to federally funded scientific research. The Committee is pleased by the progress being made and expects all plans currently under review by OSTP to be finalized and approved by the relevant agencies by the end of calendar year 2014. The Committee expects that a majority of Federal agencies will have entered into the implementation phase for their plan in early calendar year 2015. As these plans are finalized, OSTP is directed to report to the Committee every quarter on the implementation timelines for each participating agency and component. The report should also include an estimate of the associated implementation costs for each agency and associated components, as well as the cumulative cost and a timeline for full implementation.”
Medical Imaging Research Initiative (pages 104 – 105): “The Committee believes there is potential in the near future to accelerate revolutionary new imaging technology for medical professionals and researchers to combat disease and support high-skilled manufacturing jobs in the United States. Such advances will require inter-agency coordination of Federal medical imaging research and development initiatives to accelerate the transfer of new technologies into commercial products manufactured in the United States and strengthen innovative research programs. Since many Federal agencies have existing and complementary roles on medical imaging research, there is a strong need for a Federal strategy that will coordinate and accelerate such research. The Committee directs OSTP, in cooperation with the National Institutes of Health as the lead agency, to establish, through the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Science, a Medical Imaging Subcommittee [MIS] to coordinate Federal investments in imaging research.”
Ensuring American Manufacturing Competitiveness (page 105): “The Committee supports the goal of creating a national manufacturing strategy and believes updating the National Science and Technology Council’s National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing is the best manner for creating such a plan. Consequently, the Committee directs OSTP to report to Congress within 180 days of enactment of this act identifying steps the agency can take to revise its National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing to include a recurring national strategic plan for manufacturing.”
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education (pages 105 – 106): “Within the fiscal year 2015 budget request, the administration has again proposed a government-wide consolidation of STEM education programs. The Committee is encouraged that, unlike fiscal year 2014, the Administration refrained from transferring existing STEM education programs from NOAA, NASA, NIST and other Federal science agencies into new lead STEM institutions - the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, and the Smithsonian Institution - until a more viable transition plan is formulated. The Committee is also encouraged that the administration listened to the Committee and voices outside of the administration that the list of programs slated for elimination in fiscal year 2014 was over-reaching, resulting in a perception that the administration was only focused on reducing the number of programs and the amount of STEM funding rather than improving the quality of federally supported STEM education.
“For fiscal year 2015, the administration responded with a more focused and scaled-down proposal. However, while the Committee maintains its support of greater efficiencies and consolidation, several proven and successful programs have again been eliminated with no evaluation on why they were deemed duplicative or ineffective. The Committee still has concerns that the proposal as a whole has not been thoroughly communicated with the education community or congressional authorizing committees, and lacks thorough guidance and input from Federal agencies affected by this proposal.
“Therefore, the Committee continues to support effective mission oriented STEM education programs at NASA, NOAA, and NIST within this bill, and encourages OSTP to work with the non-Federal education and outreach communities to present a proposal that supports efficiencies while garnering wider support. In seeking efficiencies for STEM programs, OSTP and its partners should be mindful of ensuring that scientists supported by the Federal Government are not absolved of responsibility to educate and train the next generation. OSTP should also take care to preserve effective training and education programs designed to directly fulfill the unique STEM-related mission needs of the agencies administering them.”