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President Nominates OSTP Director

President Trump has announced the nomination of Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier to serve as his top science advisor and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The OSTP position has been unfilled since the start of the Trump administration. The higher education community is largely applauding the selection.

Kelvin Droegemeier of Oklahoma, to be Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy

Dr. Droegemeier currently serves as Vice President for Research and Regents’ Professor of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma and as Oklahoma Cabinet Secretary of Science and Technology. He co-founded and directed the National Science Foundation’s Science and Technology Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms and the NSF Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere.  Dr. Droegemeier served two six-year terms (four years as Vice Chairman) on the National Science Board, under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He earned his B.S. in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma and M.S. and Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Droegemeier is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Statement

Council on Government Relations Statement

Jonathan Nurse

OMB Releases 2020 Budget Guidance to Agencies

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has provided guidance to federal research agencies on preparing their Fiscal Year 2020 budget requests, which should be formally presented to Congress for consideration in early February 2019. The annual OMB guidance memo to agencies provides an early look at an administration’s research priorities. The priority areas that are identified in the guidance document include:

    1. national security with a focus on artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, hypersonics, a modernized nuclear deterrent, advanced microelectronics, computing, and cyber capabilities;
    2. advanced communications networks;
    3. autonomous driving systems and unmanned aircraft systems;
    4. advanced manufacturing;
    5. energy independence;
    6. medical innovation with a focus on personalized medicine, the opioid crisis, infectious diseases, veterans and aging adults;
    7. agriculture;
    8. workforce training for the 21st century economy;
    9. stewardship of American research infrastructure;
    10. lab-to-market initiatives; and
    11. promotion of academic, industry and government collaboration.
Jonathan Nurse

DARPA Proposers Day Webcast for Young Faculty Award

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Defense Sciences Office (DSO) is sponsoring a Proposers Day to provide information to potential proposers on the objectives of an anticipated Research Announcement (RA) for the Young Faculty Award (YFA) program. The Proposers Day will be held on August 8, 2018 from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM. The event will be held via a webcast only. Advance registration is required for viewing the webcast.

Additional information regarding this SN can be found through this link.

For specific questions regarding this SN, please send email to YFA2019@darpa.mil.

Jonathan Nurse

DOE ARPA-E Director Appointed

Despite two attempts to eliminate the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), President Trump has announced the nomination Lane Genatowski to head the agency. During the FY18 and F19 appropriations processes, Congress rebuffed the administration's attempts to close the agency. Mr. Genatowski's short bio is provided below.

Lane Genatowski of New York, to be Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy at the Department of Energy.

Mr. Genatowski is currently a managing partner in investments in Dividend Income Advisors, a firm he founded in 2012.  Prior to that, Mr. Genatowski was a senior energy investment banker and business group manager at JP Morgan Chase, Kidder, Peabody, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo.  His involvement in the energy industry started in 1976 as an attorney at Hawkins, Delafield & Wood in New York.  Mr. Genatowski earned a bachelor’s degree from the City University of New York and a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law.  He currently resides in Houston, Texas.

 

Jonathan Nurse

2019 Funding Bills Moving Forward on Capitol Hill

The House and Senate continue to advance spending bills for the coming fiscal year. Thus far, research and student aid agencies/programs have fared relatively well in the FY19 appropriations process. For the second straight year, appropriators on the Hill have largely rejected cuts proposed by the Trump administration. Of particular note, House and Senate funding committees have recommended increases for the National Science Foundation of 4% and 5% respectively. Department of Defense research programs were largely level-funded on the House side, despite significant proposed cuts from the administration. The committees recommended roughly a 6% increase for the Department of Energy Office of Science, despite the administration's proposal to reduce funding by 14%. Further, both panels have recommended preserving the Advance Research Projects Agency-Energy despite the administration's proposal to eliminate -as it also did unsuccessfully last year. The chart below captures recommended appropriations for agencies/programs. The chart will be updated as new information becomes available.

The FY19 appropriations process will continue to move forward over the summer. However, it's uncertain whether any of the bills will become law prior to the midterm elections in November. As in years past, a stopgap funding measure may be necessary at the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.

Agency/Office/Program FY18 Final FY18 Change (from FY17) FY19 President’s Budget Request (PBR) FY19 PBR Change (from FY18) FY19 House Committee Approved Level FY19 Senate Committee Approved Level FY19 Final
Department of Defense, RDT&E 88,308,133 22.1% 90,616,098 2.6% 91,218,284  95,131819  
DOD, 6.1 Basic Research 2,343,154 2.9% 2,269,206 -3.2% 2,298,102  2,798,456  
DOD, 6.2 Applied Research 5,681,752 7.3% 5,100,359 -10.2% 5,571,178  5,577,344  
DOD, 6.3 Advanced Technology Development 6,838,098 6.2% 6,292,102 -8% 6,564,392  7,051,177  
DOD, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency 3,072 6.3% 3,438 12% 3,389  3,447  
Department of Education, Pell Grant 22,475,352 0 22,475,352 0  22,475,352  22,475,352  
DOEd., Pell Grant Maximum 6,095 3% 5,920 -2.8%  6,095  6,195  
DOEd., Work Study 1,130,000 14.2% 500,000 -55%  1,130,000  1,130,000  
DOEd., Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants 840,000 14.6% 0 -100%  840,000  840,000  
DOEd., Institute of Education Science (IES) 613,462 1.4% 521,563 -15%  613,462  613,462  
DOEd., IES Regional Educational Laboratories 55,423 1.8% 0 -100%  55,423  55,423  
Department of Energy, Office of Science 6,259,903 16.1% 5,391,000 -13.9% 6,600,000 6,650,000  
DOE, Advanced Research Projects Agency Energy 353,314 15.5% 0 -100% 325,000 375,000  
Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Science 706,473 0 449,000 -37%  602,238  706,473  
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Science 6,221,500 7.9% 5,895,000 -5.2% 6,680,600  6,400,300  
National Endowment for the Humanities 152,848 2% 42,000 -72.5%  145,000 155,000  
National Endowment for the Arts 152,849 2% 29,000 -81%  145,000 155,000  
National Institutes of Health 37,084,000 8.8% 34,767,000 -6.2%  38,334,000  39,084,000  
National Institute of Standards and Technology 1,198,500 25.9% 629,000 -47.5% 985,000  1,037,500  
NIST Industrial Technology Services, Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Manufacturing USA 155,000 1.3% 5,000 -96.8% 145,000  155,000  
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Oceanic and Atmospheric Research 507,519 6.2% 321,651 -36.6% 462,339  508,256  
National Science Foundation 7,767,356 3.9% 7,472,000 -3.8% 8,174,890  8,068,667  
Jonathan Nurse

Congress Questions Foreign Agents Access to Federally Funded Research

As Congress debates funding levels and a national defense policy bill for the coming fiscal year, senators and representatives have increased focus on individuals perceived to have allegiances to certain rival foreign governments who also have access to federally supported research at institutions of higher education.

The House-approved National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 included and amendment by Rep. Michael Gallagher (R-WI) that would restrict DOD grant funds to scientists engaged in a foreign talent recruitment program sponsored by China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia. Universities would be required to certify compliance. The amendment didn't further define or the list the programs that would be included. The Senate version didn't contain the same language. Differences between the bills will need to be resolved ahead of passage of a final bill.

In an Inside Higher Ed op-ed, Representatives Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Clay Higgins (R-LA) call on universities to guard against theft of intellectual property by foreign entities. They cite examples of attempted and successful theft of sensitive information on university campuses. They conclude by pledging to work with the university community and law enforcement to confront the threat.

The higher education community is working with the Hill and others to develop legislative language that addresses the concern in a manner that is feasible for universities as well as respectful of academic freedom and the need for international collaboration.

Jonathan Nurse

FSU Joins Coalition in Promoting NSF Increase

FSU and other members for the Coalition for National Science Funding joined in a statement thanking the Senate Appropriations Committee for recommending a budget increase for NSF in its FY19 appropriations bill. Specifically, the CNSF statement expressed appreciation for the 3.9% increase the panel put forward for NSF while reiterating the need for a 13% increase or $8.45 billion appropriation for the agency.

CNSF Statement on Senate Appropriations Committee's NSF Allocation

Jonathan Nurse

NIH to Revisit Expanded Definition of Clinical Trial

The National Institutes of Health intends to issue a request for information by October 30 on its 2016 policy decision to expand the definition of a clinical trial to include basic studies involving human subjects. The action is in response to complaints from the basic research community, that its scientists did not have an adequate opportunity to weigh-in prior to implementation of the policy change, as well as to a congressional directive to delay particular aspects of implementation and gather input on alternatives. FSU will submit a response to the RFI. Examples and points to consider for the FSU response can be submitted to jnurse@fsu.edu.

NIH Basic Science Studies and Clinical Trials Next Steps

Jonathan Nurse

President Proposes Merger of Education and Labor Departments

Today, the Trump administration proposed merging the Education and Labor departments. The proposal is part of a larger government overhaul that also touches on programs in the departments of Agriculture, Energy, Commerce, Health and Human Services, and State. The White House Office of Management and Budget has been working on the plan for more than a year.

Some key elements of the proposal of interest to the higher education community include:

  • Creation of a Department of Education and Workforce, with sub-agencies including an American Workforce and Higher Education Administration, Enforcement Agency, Research, Evaluation and Administration Agency, and K-12 Education Agency;
  • Consolidation of Department of Energy applied research programs into an Office of Energy Innovation and creation of an Office of Energy Resources and Economic Strategy;
  • Consolidation of the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service with the Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service;
  • Consolidating the administration of federal graduate fellowship programs from multiple agencies under the National Science Foundation;
  • Reforms to facilitate careers in cyber-security;
  • Restructuring NIH administrative functions to streamline operations;
  • Modernizing federal student financial assistance programs; and
  • Creation of a public-private government effectiveness research center.

The proposal is likely to face considerable resistance on Capitol Hill, where similar efforts to eliminate the Department of Education have failed to gain traction in the past. Members of Congress, from both parties, have already expressed skepticism about the plan. In the Senate, a supermajority of 60 votes would likely be needed to advance most of the elements of the plan.

Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century - Reform and Reorganization Recommendations

Jonathan Nurse

PROSPER Act Tabled, for Now

Efforts to reauthorize the Higher Education Act appear to have stalled in the House, as it became clear that the votes aren't there to approve the massive bill that would make significant changes to student aid and accreditation programs. The House Education and Workforce Committee's Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform  (PROSPER) Act has been widely panned by higher education groups and universities across the country. Of primary concern, the current House Education and Workforce Committee bill:

  • Lacks an increase to the maximum Pell Grant award and no return to the annual inflation-based increases to the maximum award;
  • Eliminates the in-school interest subsidy on undergraduate student loans;
  • Eliminates the Federal Work Study program for graduate students;
  • Dilutes the Pell Grant Program by allowing eligibility for for-profit institution programs;
  • Eliminates the Federal PLUS loans for graduate students;
  • Eliminates the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and other occupation-based forgiveness programs; and
  • Eliminates the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants.

The bill does include some positive steps, such as a risk-based approach to accreditation that would streamline the process and allow institutions to bypass unnecessary documentation of compliance with guidelines that don’t speak to academic quality or student outcomes. The bill would also eliminate origination fees on federal student loans.

Advocacy by the higher education community is credited with getting House members to take a more critical look at the bill.

Senators working on their own version of the Higher Education Act reauthorization have already indicated that a final bill is unlikely to emerge this year.

Jonathan Nurse