Washington Update
Week of February 22 - 26
Office of Research

Group of Senators Reach Agreement Reached on Flint Aid Package

This week, a group of Senators reached an agreement to provide funding for Flint, and other cities with water infrastructure issues. The measure will be voted on, as early as next week, as a standalone bill. Reaching an agreement will unlock a hold on the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 (S.2012), which was previously derailed due to funding for Flint.

The Flint aid agreement, also known as the Drinking Water Safety and Infrastructure Act, would be offset by $250 million from rescinding the credit subsidy for new Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loans issued after October 1, 2020. Under the agreement, Flint would receive $100 million from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, after the state submits a plan to explain how the money will be spent. In addition, $70 million would come from the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act fund, and $50 million would go toward health accounts for national programs, including a health registry and advisory committee and a childhood lead poisoning prevention program. The bill would also establish a process for other lead-stricken communities to receive federal aid.

Some Republicans in the Senate have expressed concern with the agreement. According to Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Democrats in the Senate support the agreement. Sen. Peters also said: “There are some outstanding holds, but that does not necessarily mean they are related to the [Flint] water infrastructure bill. It could be related to the energy bill as well. They are working through that now, and hopefully we will be in a better position next week.”

House Science Committee Releases 2016 Priorities Document
The House Science, Space and Technology Committee released their agenda and priorities for FY2017. The document indicates the committee's priorities for 2016 which include, among other items:
  • A continued focus on transparency and accountability of federal research
  • Require directorate-level funding for NSF and ensure each grant meets 'National Interest' criteria
  • Prioritization of basic research at NSF in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate, the Engineering Directorate, the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate, and the Biological Sciences Directorate (excludes mentioning Geosciences and Social, Behavioral and Economic sciences)
  • Sustained funding for the DoE Office of Science ($5.35B). Prioritize funding for Basic Energy Sciences and Advanced Scientific Computing Research.
  • At DoE: Reduce Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy R&D funding to $1.2B and reduce ARPA-E funding to $140M.
  • Maintain overall funding for NASA at $19.3B
  • Reduce funding for NASA Earth Science to $1.45B and reallocate the funding to Planetary Science, Heliophysics, the Orion Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle, Exploration R&D, and Exploration Ground Systems.

NSF Invites Participation in New Diversity Initiative

On February 22, NSF Director Cordova circulated a 'Dear Colleague' letter inviting participation in the NSF INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science) initiative. According to the letter, "NSF is releasing the first NSF INCLUDES solicitation, which aims to fund approximately 40 Design and Development Launch Pilots at ~$300,000 each. I encourage you to enlist partners (e.g., industry, foundations, states) who can help leverage and expand support beyond the Federal dollars." The program solicitation is available here.

NSF Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (ACI) to Host Solicitation Webinar

On Thursday March 3, 2016 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST, NSF's Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure will host a webinar on recently released solicitations. The webinar will cover the elements of each solicitation, including objectives, award types, and submission requirements. There will be a question and answer session following the discussion of each program solicitation. Further information or to register, please visit here. Registration is open until noon on Wednesday, March 2. 
President Requests $1.9B to Combat Zika Virus
On February 22, President Obama sent a letter to Speaker Ryan requesting $1.9B to combat the Zika virus. Specifically for NIH, the request letter states:

“National Institutes of Health Research, Including Vaccines - $130 million.
This funding supports efforts that would build upon existing resources to develop a vaccine for Zika and chikungunya (including the clinical testing phases up to the time when external interests would be willing to take over commercial development). Funds would also support basic research and research on the natural history of Zika.”

Further information about the supplemental request can be found here.

ARPA-E Announces Funding Opportunity
Today, ARPA-E announced up to $30 million in funding for a new program focused on creating innovative components for the next generation of batteries, fuel cells, and other electrochemical devices. According to their press release: ARPA-E’s Integration and Optimization of Novel Ion Conducting Solids (IONICS) program seeks to enable a new generation of batteries that will have lower cost and longer life, with an ultimate goal of providing a steady power output from intermittent power. The IONICS program will create high performance separators and electrodes built with solid ion conductors and will also focus on new processing methods and device integration to accelerate these high performance components to commercial deployment. 

More information on the IONICS Teaming Partner Arrangements and the full IONICS Funding Opportunity Announcement can be found here.   

Legislative Activities
The House and Senate will reconvene on Monday, February, 29.

Tuesday, March 1

House Committee on Appropriations
Energy and Water Subcommittee Hearing: Budget Hearing - Department of Energy
Witness: Dr. Ernest Moniz, Secretary, Dept. of Energy
9:30 a.m., 2359 Rayburn

Wednesday, March 2

House Small Business Committee
Hearing: Commercializing on Innovation: Reauthorizing the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs
11:00 a.m., 2360 Rayburn

House Committee on Appropriations
Energy and Water Subcommittee Hearing: Budget Hearing - Department of Energy, Science
Witnesses: Dr. Franklin Orr, Under Secretary for Science and Energy; Dr. Cherry Murray, Director of the Office of Science
1:30 p.m., 2362-B Rayburn

Thursday, March 3

Senate Appropriations Committee
Department of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education Subcommittee Hearing: HHS Budget Hearing
10:00 a.m., 138 Dirksen

Nomination Announcements


National Medal of Technology and Innovation

The Department of Commerce's U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is accepting nominations for the 2016 National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The medal, presented each year by the President, is the country's highest award for technological achievement. The medal can be awarded to individuals, teams (up to four individuals), companies or divisions of companies to recognize their outstanding contributions to the U.S. economic, environmental, and social well-being.

Nominations are due by midnight (EST) on April 1, 2016. Further information is available here.

Federal Advisory Committees:
HHS Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections
The Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP), a program office in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is seeking four nominations for appointment to the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP). SACHRP provides advice and recommendations on issues pertaining to the continuance and improvement of functions within the authority of HHS directed toward protections for human subjects in research.

Nominations will be accepted until Monday, March 21. Further information is available here.

CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are accepting nominations for the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). ACIP consists of 15 experts in fields associated with immunization who provide advice and guidance to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Assistant Secretary for Health, and the CDC on the control of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Nominations will be accepted through Friday, November 4, 2016. Further information is available here.

National Institute of Standards and Technology Federal Advisory Committees

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is accepting nominations for appointment to eight existing Federal Advisory Committees:
  • Board of Overseers of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
  • Judges Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
  • Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board
  • National Construction Safety Team Advisory Committee
  • Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction
  • NIST Smart Grid Advisory Committee
  • Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology
Nominations will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Further information is available here.
Council on Graduate Medical Education

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is accpeting nominations to fill vacancies on the Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME). The COGME provides advice and recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services and members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce on matters related to: supply of physicians in the U.S., physician workforce trends, training issues, and financing policies.

The agency will receive nominations on a continuous basis. Further information is available here.
News Articles
The Chirp Heard Across the Universe
NIH Taking First Steps to Huge Precision Medicine Project
Is Social Science Politically Biased?
NSF launches long-awaited diversity initiative
How big science gets its funding
White House proposes $19 billion NASA budget
White House proposes $19 billion NASA budgetWh
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