A Periodic Federal Science Update

Omnibus Appropriations Act Signed, Next Step Agency Spending Plans and FY 2019 Hearings– Now that the President has signed the FY 2018 omnibus appropriations act, agencies are moving to develop their FY18 spending plans.  These are plans the agencies prepare detailing their planning expenditure of the resources provided via the FY18 omnibus appropriations act.  Agencies’ plans will reflect their initial budget plans, guidance provided by the Congress via bill and/or report language, and their subsequent interpretation of the guidance provided by the Congress.  Generally, these spending plans are provided to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees within 45 days after the omnibus is signed into law.  The Committees provide comments to the agencies regarding their spending plans.  While the Committees usually don’t formally approve these plans, the agencies pay particular attention to the reaction and comments they receive from the Committees as they finalize their spending plans for the balance of the fiscal year.  Usually program directors await the finalization of the spend plan process before they are able to communicate to their stakeholders any details about resource availability for FY 2018.  As a result, it could take until May or June for agency program directors to be able to discuss the level of detail needed by prospective principal investigators.

NSF Seeking Nominations to Advisory Committees -- The National Science Foundation (NSF) requests recommendations for membership on its scientific and technical Federal advisory committees. Recommendations should consist of the name of the submitting individual, the organization or the affiliation providing the member nomination, the name of the recommended individual, the recommended individual's curriculum vita, and an expression of the individual's interest in serving. Self-recommendations are accepted. Each Directorate and Office has an external advisory committee that typically meets twice a year to review and provide advice on program management; discuss current issues; and review and provide advice on the impact of policies, programs, and activities in the disciplines and fields encompassed by the Directorate or Office. In addition to Directorate and Office advisory committees, NSF has several committees that provide advice and recommendations on specific topics including: Astronomy and astrophysics; environmental research and education; equal opportunities in science and engineering; cyberinfrastructure; international science and engineering; and business and operations. A primary consideration when formulating committee membership is recognized knowledge, expertise, or demonstrated ability. Other factors that may be considered are balance among diverse institutions, regions, and groups underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Committee members serve for varying term lengths, depending on the nature of the individual committee. More information, including a list of NSF’s advisory committees, can be found here.

NSF Funding Opportunity Related to Ocean Observatories Initiative Facility Board (OOFIB) -- The OOI is a large-scale ocean observing system constructed and deployed under NSF sponsorship and oversight as a Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) Project.  The system includes an integrated network of cabled and uncabled arrays of instrumentation, distributed in various coastal and global ocean locations, to facilitate Ocean Science research. The OOI is managed and operated under a Cooperative Agreement that is currently being re-competed.  An Ocean Observatories Initiative Facility Board (OOIFB) has been established by the NSF to provide independent, community-based input and guidance to the NSF and the OOI operator relating to OOI operations and maintenance.  The solicitation invites proposals for an Administrative Support Office to assist the OOIFB in carrying out its responsibilities to the OOI Program.  More information on this opportunity can be found here.

DOD Releases MURI Program Announcement -- The MURI program supports basic research in science and engineering at U.S. institutions of higher education that is of potential interest to DoD. The program is focused on multidisciplinary research efforts where more than one traditional discipline interacts to provide rapid advances in scientific areas of interest to the DoD. DoD’s basic research program invests broadly in many fields to ensure that it has early cognizance of new scientific knowledge. The FY 2019 MURI competition is for the topics listed in Section II. I, entitled, “SPECIFIC MURI TOPICS,” The detailed descriptions are intended to provide the applicant a frame of reference and are not meant to be restrictive to the possible approaches to achieving the goals of the topic and the program. Innovative ideas addressing these research topics are highly encouraged. Proposals from a team of university investigators are warranted when the necessary expertise in addressing the multiple facets of the topics may reside in different universities, or in different departments in the same university. By supporting multidisciplinary teams, the program is complementary to other DoD basic research programs that support university research through single-investigator awards. 

DOD Releases FY 2019 Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) -- This announcement seeks proposals from universities to purchase equipment and instrumentation in support of research in areas of interest to the DoD. DoD interests include the areas of research supported by the Army Research Office (ARO), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR. A central purpose of the DURIP is to provide equipment and instrumentation to enhance research-related education in areas of interest and priority to the DoD. DoD areas of research interest are published at the following internet locations: Army Research OfficeOffice of Naval Research, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

USGS Announces Funding Opportunity for Earthquake Hazards Research -- The USGS Earthquake Hazards Program (EHP) issues this annual Announcement for assistance to support research in earthquake hazards, the physics of earthquakes, earthquake occurrence, and earthquake safety policy.  This activity is authorized by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977.  A copy of the solicitation can be found here.

Funding Opportunity at National Geospatial Intelligence Agency -- The NGA mission is to provide timely, relevant, and accurate geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) in support of national security objectives. GEOINT is the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess, and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth. GEOINT consists of imagery, imagery intelligence, and geospatial information. NGA offers a variety of critical GEOINT products in support of U.S. national security objectives and Federal disaster relief, including aeronautical, geodesy, hydrographic, imagery, geospatial and topographical information. The NGA Academic Research Program (NARP) is focused on innovative, far-reaching basic and applied research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics having the potential to advance the GEOINT mission. The objective of the NARP is to support innovative, high-payoff research that provides the basis for revolutionary progress in areas of science and technology affecting the needs and mission of NGA. This research also supports the National System for Geospatial Intelligence (NSG), which is the combination of technology, systems and organizations that gather, produce, distribute and consume geospatial data and information. This research is aimed at advancing GEOINT capabilities by improving analytical methods, enhancing and expanding systems capabilities, and leveraging resources for common NSG goals. The NARP also seeks to improve education in scientific, mathematics, and engineering skills necessary to advance GEOINT capabilities. It is NGA’s intent to solicit fundamental research under this BAA.  More information on this funding opportunity can be found here.

Army Rapid Capability Office Funding Opportunity Announced -- This Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), W56JSR-18-S-0001, is sponsored by the Army Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO). The RCO serves to expedite critical capabilities to the field to meet Combatant Commanders’ needs. The Office enables the Army to experiment, evolve, and deliver technologies in real time to address both urgent and emerging threats while supporting acquisition reform efforts. The RCO executes rapid prototyping and initial equipping of capabilities, particularly in the areas of cyber, electronic warfare, survivability and positioning, navigation and timing (PNT), as well as other priority projects that will enable Soldiers to operate and win in contested environments decisively. And estimated $50 million is available for this program.

NSF Announces Funding Opportunities for Management and Operation of the Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR) Facilities -- NSF is soliciting proposals to manage and operate both of the NSF-owned faces of the Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR) observatories that are located at Poker Flat, AK, and at Resolute Bay, Canada. These two observatories are managed and operated as a single facility which serves national goals in Geospace science research and education. These facilities are designated as Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar (PFISR) and Resolute Bay Incoherent Scatter Radar - North Face (RISR-N), respectively. Awardees will work closely with NSF and the Geospace scientific community to ensure that each AMISR observatory supports, sustains, and advances Geospace science. In cooperation with NSF and within available resources, the Awardees will plan and execute a viable, coherent, and inclusive observing program to support Geospace research and education. AMISR activities will be carried out with guidance and oversight from NSF and through a peer review process. A copy of the solicitation can be found here.

Meeting of the DOE/Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee – The Department of Energy’s Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee (BERAC) will meet in open session on April 25 and April 26, 2018.  The meeting will take place at the Hilton Washington DC North/Gaithersburg, 620 Perry Parkway, Gaithersburg, Maryland.  The tentative agenda includes the following topics:  News from the Office of Science; News from the Office of Biological and Environmental Research; Updates from the Biological Systems Science and Climate and Environmental Sciences Divisions; and Updates on data science programs.  More information on this meeting can be found here