A Periodic Federal Science Update

President’s Detailed FY 2018 Budget to be Released May 22 – In March the Administration released a Budget Blueprint for FY 2018 which outlined in summary fashion program and budget priorities of the Administration.  On May 22, the Administration is scheduled to release the details of the summary they put out in March.  The budget plan is expected to propose the transfer of $54 billion from non-defense programs to defense programs.  As a result, the Administration’s detailed budget is expected to propose large and unpopular reductions in many non-defense discretionary programs including NIH, NASA, NSF, NOAA, EPA, USGS, and other R&D agencies.  More specifics on the programs impacted by the Administration’s FY 2018 budget plan will be provided upon its release.  Most agencies will hold public briefings and press conferences during the week of May 22 to present their FY 2018 budget proposals.

DOE to Honor All Funding Commitments – After information was released suggesting the Department of Energy (DOE) had stopped processing funding awards for its various energy research programs, DOE issued a memorandum to DOE program offices on May 4 stating that the agency “will honor all commitments for funds previously obligated for grants and cooperative agreements.”  A DOE spokeswoman said that included funding agreements for the entire agency, not just the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The Administration’s FY 2018 budget blueprint calls for eliminating funding for ARPA-E and cutting funding for the agency’s fossil energy, renewable and efficiency programs.  Appropriators largely rejected most proposed DOE cuts for fiscal 2017. Funding levels for fiscal 2018 will be set by the Congress as part of the FY 2018 Appropriations process. The FY 2017 omnibus package that was signed into law on May 5, included increased funding for ARPA-E and the Office of Science.

Economic Development Administration Offers Grants for its Innovation Strategies Program -- On Wednesday, May 10, 2017, EDA began accepting applications under the 2017 Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). In 2017, $17 million in Federal funding is available for the creation and expansion of cluster-focused proof-of-concept and commercialization program and of early-stage seed capital funds through the i6 Challenge and the 2017 Seed Fund Support Grant competition, respectively. The deadline for submitting applications under the 2017 RIS Program NOFA is June 23, 2017.  Under Section 27 of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980, EDA currently awards grants that build regional capacity to translate innovations into jobs (1) through proof-of-concept and commercialization assistance to innovators and entrepreneurs and (2) through operational support for organizations that provide essential early-stage risk capital to innovators and entrepreneurs. The RIS Program consists of two separate competitions: the i6 Challenge and Seed Fund Support (SFS) Grants competition. The i6 Challenge is a leading national initiative designed to support the creation of centers for innovation and entrepreneurship that increase the rate at which innovations, ideas, intellectual property, and research are translated into products, services, viable companies, and, ultimately, jobs. Through the SFS Grants competition, EDA provides funding for technical assistance to support the creation, launch, or expansion of equity-based, cluster-focused seed funds that invest regionally-managed risk capital in regionally-based startups with a potential for high growth.

National Science Foundation Offers Grants for Innovation Corps Teams – NSF seeks to nurture a national innovation ecosystem that builds upon fundamental research to guide the output to facilitate the application of scientific discoveries closer to the development of technologies, products and processes that benefit society. To maintain, strengthen and grow a national innovation ecosystem, NSF has established the Innovation Corps - National Innovation Network Teams Program (I-Corps Teams). The NSF I-Corps Teams Program purpose is to identify NSF-funded researchers who will receive additional support in the form of entrepreneurial education, mentoring and funding to accelerate innovation that can attract subsequent third-party funding. The purpose of the NSF I-Corps Teams grant is to give the project team access to resources to help determine the readiness to transition technology developed by previously-funded or currently funded NSF projects. The outcomes of I-Corps Teams projects will be threefold: 1) a clear go /or no go decision regarding viability of products and services, 2) should the decision be to move the effort forward, a transition plan for those projects to move forward, and 3) a definition of a compelling technology demonstration for potential partners. Download a copy of this solicitation here.

DOD Offers STEM Scholarships for Service -- The SMART Scholarship Program was established by Congress to strengthen the DoD science and technology workforce with highly skilled science and engineering professionals. This unique and prestigious program provides scholarships, which include tuition and stipend support to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in the technical fields listed in the overview of the funding opportunity. While in school, participants perform research as summer interns at DoD laboratories and return to those laboratories after graduation to complete a period of obligated employment service. This provides scholars with a unique opportunity to perform research in their respective area of interest that they would not have otherwise been able to do. The post-graduation employment commitment is equal to or greater than the amount of time the student received scholarship funding under this program. The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OASD(R&E))/Research Directorate (RD) manages the SMART Scholarship Program.

Administration Issues Executive Order on Cybersecurity – The President issued a long awaited Executive Order on Cybersecurity on May 11.  The EO is designed to put in place a guiding strategy for cyber defense. Agencies will follow the National Institute for Standards and Technology framework - a set of guidelines developed by NIST to be adaptable to any organization. The executive order tasks the departments of Commerce, Homeland Security, Defense, Labor and Education and the Office of Personnel Management with developing a plan to bolster the cybersecurity workforce. Homeland Security is also instructed to do wide audits of critical infrastructure for security.