A Periodic Federal Science Update

April 28 Deadline Looms for FY 2017 USG Funding –House and Senate Appropriators are trying to finish up negotiations on the FY 2017 omnibus appropriations measure that would fund the Federal Government for the remaining five months of this fiscal year. Still to be resolved are questions related to supplemental funding for defense programs and border security including startup funding for The Wall.  The Administration had asked for $18 billion in reductions to nondefense programs in FY 2017 to partially pay for additional defense costs and border security activities.  These reductions are proposed to come from many nondefense programs including NSF research, NOAA ocean and coastal programs including Sea Grant, and NIH.  Many Members of Congress have dismissed these proposed reductions coming so late in the FY 2017 process.  At the same time, the White House is said to be pushing hard for startup funding for the wall in FY 2017 and the Appropriators may have to find a way to accommodate that issue.  The current Continuing Resolution funds the Federal Government until April 28.  When Congress returns from its current recess it will have only a few days to pass legislation to keep the Federal Government from shutting down.

First Weather Bill Since 1992 Signed into Law – On April 18, President Trump signed into law the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2107.  This is the first piece of weather legislation signed into law since 1992.  This bill authorizes several programs to enhance weather forecasting and alerts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research must conduct a program to improve forecasting of weather events and their effects, with a special focus on high impact weather events. The National Weather Service must collect and utilize information to make reliable and timely foundational forecasts of subseasonal and seasonal temperature and precipitation. Subseasonal forecasting is forecasting weather between two weeks and three months and seasonal forecasting is between three months and two years. The bill provides for technology transfer between the National Weather Service and private sector weather companies and universities to improve forecasting. NOAA must complete and operationalize the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (a weather satellite program which develops observational techniques using global navigation systems). Additionally, NOAA may contract with the private sector to obtain data for weather forecasting. NOAA must continue its Environmental Information Services Working Group, which advises NOAA on weather research and opportunities to improve communications between weather stakeholders.

NSF Announces Support for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Research Initiation Initiative -- This NSF solicitation encourages potentially transformative proposals in any area of CISE research from PIs who are in their first academic position post-PhD. The goal is for the PI to achieve research independence early in his or her career. The CISE Research Initiation Initiative (CRII) is part of CISE's strategy to increase its investments in the development and growth of the research capabilities of future generations of computer and information scientists and engineers, including computational and data scientists and engineers. This solicitation provides the opportunity for early-career researchers to recruit and mentor their first graduate students (or undergraduate students, in the case of faculty at undergraduate and two-year institutions), which is one critical step in a career pathway that is expected to lead to research independence and a subsequent stream of projects, discoveries, students and publications. CRII awards will be given to researchers to undertake exploratory investigations, to acquire and test preliminary data, develop collaborations with other research disciplines, and/or develop new algorithms, approaches, and system designs, which may lead to improved capacity to write successful proposals submitted to other programs in the future. More information on this program can be found here.

Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Arctic Mobile Observing System/Science Initiative -- The "Arctic Mobile Observing System/Science" is an Office of Naval Research (ONR) Departmental Research Initiative, or DRI, which is expected to run from FY17-FY21. Research funded under this effort is expected to result in new sensors, platforms, and techniques that will enable the sustainment of a mobile observing capability that can enhance our scientific understanding of the physical Arctic Ocean environment and lead to improved predictions for this region. The primary focus of the AMOS DRI will be on mobile systems that drift with the sea ice cover and/or operate autonomously within the water column, but all ideas and concepts will be considered. The overall goal of the effort will be to advance new mobile observing methodologies that will enable studies of sea ice dynamics and thermodynamics and improve our understanding of the circulation and evolution of water masses in the Arctic.  The DRI will run for five years, with deployment opportunities and in situ observational studies expected to occur in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Collaborations with international researchers and other observational programs are encouraged. Planning letters for research to be supported under the AMOS DRI should be prepared according to standard guidelines.

Innovation: An American Imperative to Release Progress Report on April 24:  In 2015 several key business, science, and universities released an innovation agenda designed to advise policy makers on actions they should take to help the United States maintain its leadership in in productivity and economic growth.  That agenda, called the Innovation Imperative endorsed by more than 500 leading organizations, included the following recommendations:  renew the federal commitment to scientific discovery; make permanent a strengthened federal R&D tax credit: improve student achievement in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM); reform U.S. visa policy; take steps to streamline or eliminate costly and inefficient regulations; reaffirm merit-based peer review: and stimulate further improvements in advanced manufacturing.  On April 24, the organizations making up this innovation initiative will release the latest progress report on implementing these recommendations.  Learn more about the Innovation Imperative, and read the latest progress report starting April 24 here.

NOAA Science Advisory Board (SAB) to Meet – On April 24 and 25 the NOAA Science Advisory Board will be meeting in open (public) session.  The meeting will take place at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 8727 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD.  The meeting will include the following topics: (1) Draft Report on Indigenous and Local Ecological Knowledge and NOAA; (2) Proposal for Creation of a High Performance Computing Standing Working Group; (3) Discussion of the Process to Review SAB Standing Working Groups; (4) Discussion of Short-Term Topics for the SAB; (5) Discussion on SAB Transition Materials; and (6) Updates from the Acting NOAA Administrator and Acting Chief Scientist.  The full agenda for the two day meeting can be found here.  Reports and other documents associated with this meeting can be found here.