The National Science Foundation is mulling how aggressively to pursue its 10 big ideas for future investment, which were crafted to justify budget increases but face an uncertain future in the current budget climate.
At a meeting this month, top officials at the National Institute of Standards and Technology provided insight into how they are grappling with the possibility of deep budget cuts while also seeking to better situate the measurement science and standards agency for the future.
Earlier this month, two Senate subcommittee hearings addressed R&D and innovation at the Defense Department. Witnesses praised DOD’s existing innovation policies and department laboratories’ special administrative authorities. But they pressed for better access to military construction funds and described the administrative barriers that prevent lab leaders from fully using their authorities.
The Defense Science Board has released its Defense Research Enterprise Assessment, presenting conclusions of a year-long task force study of Defense Department laboratories and technology centers. The assessment recommends the labs be granted greater managerial independence and a stronger role in acquisitions and the formulation of technology requirements.
At a House Science Committee hearing, Republican and Democratic committee members squared off on the question of whether regulatory activity at EPA currently meets high standards of scientific quality or requires reform. Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) also used the hearing to air a new allegation of scientific misconduct at NOAA.
In his final public speech in D.C., Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz rolled out the first annual report on the state of the Department of Energy national laboratories alongside an enhanced scientific integrity policy that now applies to all DOE employees, including those at the labs.
Both the House and Senate have passed the fiscal year 2017 “National Defense Authorization Act." The NDAA is a bill, passed annually, that authorizes and sets policy for defense programs at the Defense and Energy Departments, including defense R&D.
NSF is currently undertaking a formal process by which it will determine whether or not to divest from the Arecibo and Green Bank Observatories, with final decisions for each facility expected within the next year and a half.
On Oct. 5 and 6, a National Academies committee studying NASA’s large strategic science missions held a meeting at which NASA officials and current and former congressional staff members presented. Committee members and presenters confronted pressing questions concerning what role the missions play in accomplishing the agency’s science goals and in sustaining broader scientific communities.
At a hearing last week, the House Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee discussed the role and health of the Defense Department’s research laboratories in the context of the department’s Third Offset Strategy to leverage innovation to preserve U.S. military superiority. Witnesses from the labs focused on administrative obstacles and aging facilities as the primary burdens preventing the labs from fully realizing their potential.