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Update on Research Funding via Federal Agencies October 06, 2021

Karen Walker
October 06, 2021

Research Development's Strategic Intelligence team monitors the federal budget and funding landscape and produces this memo on a bi-weekly basis to share information that may impact ASU research. 

Science Policy Legislation

Congress passes short-term government funding bill, averting shutdown     

Congress passed a short-term bill on Thursday to fund the government through Dec. 3, just hours before a potential shutdown.   

What does a continuing resolution mean for faculty and research? During a continuing resolution, sponsor agencies are not allowed to put out announcements for new programs, as they must wait to release new programs until they’ve received their new appropriations. However, sponsors can re-issue announcements of programs that were issued previously under existing appropriations. Funding announcements always include a paragraph noting that "funds are subject to the availability of appropriations." During this slow down on the federal side, faculty can still move ideas forward and possibly influence new programs in the following ways:  

  • NIH – NIH will provide insight on upcoming programs via cleared concepts and notices of intent to publish funding opportunities. Faculty should continue to track these so that they are prepared for program announcements that may release quickly following appropriations possibly with short deadlines.   
  • NSF – NSF will provide insight on upcoming programs via its Dear Colleague Letters (DCL). Faculty should set an alert for DCLs so that they are prepared for program announcements following appropriations.   
  • Sponsor agnostic – Faculty should seek out and respond to relevant RFIs. RFIs request information from faculty about research priorities for sponsors. Faculty should respond to these requests to help influence national research priorities and position sponsor priorities in line with their research.    

Biden Names President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology 

President Biden announced the members of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology this week. The roster includes two former cabinet secretaries and has significant representation from the physical and biomedical sciences and areas such as climate and information technology. 

As Intel expands in Chandler, what’s making Arizona ‘semiconductor central’?

Intel last Friday broke ground on a $20 billion expansion of its facilities in Chandler, Arizona, building two new fabrication plants, or fabs, at its Ocotillo campus. The two new chip factories – which will be known as Fab 52 and Fab 62 – will be operational within three years and will supply semiconductor chips at a time when a global shortage of chips is wreaking havoc on supply chains in nearly all industries, from automobiles to data centers. There has been so much investment that in March, Forbes labeled Arizona as “semiconductor central.”

Short on semiconductors but long on symbolism: U.S.-EU Trade and Tech Council kicks off in Pittsburgh  

On 9/29/2021, European dignitaries joined Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to discuss common priorities for technology development, manufacturing, workforce needs, climate change mitigation and digital standards. One key area is supply chain resilience, extending the Biden administration’s domestic focus on reinforcing supplies of critical minerals, batteries, pharmaceuticals, and semiconductors. EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said that “this discussion is not about classical trade negotiation with gives and takes; it is about our future industrial position.” 

National Institutes of Health (NIH) 

Francis Collins to step down as director of the National Institutes of Health 

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., today announced his decision to end his tenure as the director of the National Institutes of Health by the end of the year. Dr. Collins is the longest serving presidentially appointed NIH director, having served three U.S. presidents over more than 12 years. 

White House and National Institutes of Health Release Report Summarizing the Listening Sessions with Stakeholders on the Proposed Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health  

The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) hosted a total of 15 listening sessions on the proposed Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to hear from different voices across the community, and a new report released today summarizes what was heard. 

National Science Foundation (NSF) 

NSF invests in mid-scale research infrastructure  

On 9/27/2021, NSF announced ten awards for Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure-1(MSRI) projects totaling $127 million. The infrastructure projects include $13.7 million for Arizona State University to create the Facility for Open Research in a Compressed Environment (FORCE), which will host tools for studying the behavior of matter under extremely high pressures and temperatures. 

NSF establishes new institutes for harnessing the data revolution  

On 9/28/2021, NSF announced a $75 million investment to establish five new Harnessing the Data Revolution Institutes. The institutes support convergence between science and engineering research communities, bringing together expertise in data science foundations, systems, applications and cyberinfrastructure. Together, they will enable breakthroughs through collaborative, co-designed programs to formulate innovative data-intensive approaches for addressing critical national challenges. 

National Science Foundation Should Create Next-Generation Earth Systems Science Initiative, New Report Says  

To explore the complex interactions between the natural world and society and enhance our understanding of Earth’s systems — the atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, cryosphere, biosphere, and the individuals, institutions, and technologies that respond to and influence these dynamics — the National Science Foundation should create a next-generation Earth systems science initiative, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 

Appointment of Division Director, Division of Astronomical Sciences - Debra Fischer  

On 10/4/2021, NSF announced the appointment of Dr. Debra Fischer as Division Director for the Division of Astronomical Sciences (AST), effective October 12, 2021. Dr. Fischer comes to NSF from Yale University, where she is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Astronomy and has served as the Dean of Academic Affairs for the Faculty of Arts and Science from 2019-2021. 

 Department of Commerce (DOC)

Commerce Establishes Early Alert System to Improve Semiconductor Supply Chains  

This week, in response to concerns from U.S. manufacturers dependent on the semiconductor industry and in support of President Biden’s ongoing commitment to address semiconductor supply chain challenges, the Department of Commerce established the Microelectronics Early Alert System, which will be administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration. The early alert system will help the interagency Supply Chain Disruption Task Force to coordinate U.S. government resources to help resolve supply chain bottlenecks occurring due to the global chip shortage. 

Department of Energy (DoE) 

DOE Announces up to $400 Million for Basic Research to Advance the Frontiers of Science | Department of Energy  

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $400 million in funding for a range of research opportunities to support DOE’s clean energy, economic, and national security goals. The funding will advance the priorities of DOE’s Office of Science and its major programs. The DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), informally known as the “Open Call,” is issued annually at the beginning of each Fiscal Year (FY). It provides a vehicle for the Office of Science to solicit applications for research support in areas not covered by more specific, topical FOAs that are issued by the office over the course of the Fiscal Year.  

Bayh-Dole letter to DOE  

The DOE has issued guidance on a new policy that generally requires inventions resulting from DOE funding to be “substantially” manufactured in the U.S.  In response, a coalition of universities and other stakeholders sent a letter to the DOE expressing concerns at this policy, including that "any exclusive license to a DOE-funded invention must be approved by DOE before it is effective. The result is significant uncertainty about the ability of our institutions to commercialize DOE-funded technologies. Few companies will agree to negotiate licenses with a requirement for prior government approval, especially given uncertainties about timely approval of such licenses with the resulting burdens on DOE." 

Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm Announces Newly Appointed Members of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board | Department of Energy   

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the new members of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB), an important component of DOE’s strategy to improve its research and development portfolio and program activities. The members of the SEAB are appointed for a two-year term and represent academic institutions, nuclear security experts, labor unions, utility companies, energy equipment manufacturers, low-income consumers, and non-governmental organizations. The SEAB meets quarterly to advise the Secretary on how best to achieve the priorities of the Department, help identify emerging issues related to the DOE’s activities, and offer suggestions for improvements to its operation. For the first time ever, the SEAB is majority women.  

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

BARDA Industry Day 2021 

BARDA Industry Day is an annual conference, held to increase awareness of U.S. government medical countermeasure priorities, interact with BARDA and ASPR staff, and network with public and private sector colleagues working in the health security space. During BARDA Industry Day 2020, the one-day virtual event attracted 1300+ attendees, featured BARDA program goals and funding updates, expert presentations from government and industry partners, 13 interactive breakout sessions, and two Lightning Talk sessions showcasing 20 exciting technologies. 

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Biden Picks Veteran Researcher Frey to Lead EPA’s Science Office  

On 9/22/2021, the Biden administration announced its intent to nominate veteran scientist Christopher Frey to lead the EPA’s Office of Research and Development. If confirmed by the Senate, Frey would be in charge of an office that provides scientific research and expertise that informs the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory and enforcement actions. Frey currently serves as ORD’s deputy assistant administrator for science policy. Wayne Cascio is the office’s acting principal deputy assistant administrator. 

EPA Releases Draft Strategic Plan to Address Climate Change and Advance Environmental Justice and Equity  

On 10/1/2021, the EPA announced that its Draft Fiscal Year (FY) 2022-2026 EPA Strategic Plan has been published in the Federal Register and is available for public comment through November 12, 2021. The Strategic Plan communicates and provides a roadmap to achieve EPA’s and the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities over the next four years. For the first time, EPA’s plan includes a strategic goal focused solely on addressing climate change, as well as an unprecedented strategic goal to advance environmental justice and civil rights.  

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) 

Nelson remains confident regarding funding for Artemis  

NASA’s administrator says he remains confident that Congress will provide the agency with funding to allow it to select a second lunar lander developer despite a lack of public progress on funding and concerns raised elsewhere in the agency about the effect an ongoing protest could have on congressional support for the program. Congress passed Sept. 30 a continuing resolution (CR) that funds the federal government at fiscal year 2021 levels from the beginning of the 2022 fiscal year Oct. 1 to Dec. 3. The CR prevented a government shutdown that could have, among other factors, put the mid-October launch of NASA’s Lucy asteroid mission in jeopardy. 

US Department of Agriculture (USDA) 

USDA Takes Significant Steps to Build More Sustainable, Resilient and Inclusive Food Systems  

At the United Nations Food Systems Summit this week, the USDA highlighted $5 billion in planned investments and several steps it has taken to advance the goals of ending hunger and malnutrition and building more sustainable, resilient and inclusive food systems.  These efforts are guided by USDA’s deep commitment to science-based, data-driven decision-making and innovative solutions, and the recognition that trade and well-functioning markets at the local, regional and international levels bolster food security and sustainable food systems.