This blog from ASPB's public affairs unit will provide updates on policy developments in Washington and other plant biology news impacting the ASPB community. Please send any news, comments, or suggestions to ASPB's public affairs director, Adam Fagen, at email@example.com
Policy Archives available under Group Pages.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Wednesday, June 25, President Obama announced a new climate action plan in a
speech at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. There had been much anticipation leading up
to the speech as Obama Administration officials had been laying the groundwork
for the announcement and releasing tidbits of information about the plan weeks
in advance. The President outlined his
action plan just six months into his second term—leaving 3.5 years for his
Administration to realize the plan—because it likely will take three years (or
more) for the centerpiece of the plan, the Environmental Protection Agency’s
(EPA’s) regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from both new and current power
plants, to become final, especially factoring in legal challenges to EPA’s
future proposed rules on the subject.
Additionally, although congressional action is not required to implement
the various aspects of the plan, Congress still must agree to fund these
various initiatives and programs; House Republicans likely will not look kindly
on doing so.
Obama’s plan centers on three main themes: (1) "cut carbon pollution in
America”; (2) "prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change”;
and (3) "lead international efforts to combat global climate change and prepare
for its impacts.” The highlights of the
plan include: directing the EPA to create new greenhouse gas emissions
standards for new and existing power plants; doubling renewable electricity
generation on federal lands by 2020; increasing fuel economy standards that
build upon the 2011 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards; and
creating new energy efficiency standards for appliances.
Administration also will focus on reducing non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas
emissions, such as methane. In President
Obama’s recent trip to Asia, he and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to
reduce the emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which have a significantly stronger
climate effects than carbon dioxide and are commonly used in refrigerants. Additionally, the EPA, along with the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of the
Interior (DOI), and others, will develop an interagency strategy to reduce
the majority of the climate action plan focuses on the United States leading
international efforts to address climate change and on building smarter and
less greenhouse gas-intensive energy sources and infrastructure, there are
several pieces of the plan that will be of interest to scientific researchers
and academic institutions, including:
Research: The plan cites the President’s fiscal year (FY)
2014 budget request for the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) at
$2.7 billion, which, under its new strategic plan released last year, will work
to advance science, inform decisions, conduct sustained assessments, and
communicate with and educate the public.
Observations: In telephone calls with stakeholders
following the President’s speech, administration officials reiterated their
commitment to environmental monitoring systems, including the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) and the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration’s (NASA’s) satellite systems as well as NOAA’s coastal
Impacts Assessment: DOE will release an
assessment of climate change impacts as they relate to the energy sector.
Climate Data: In line with the May 2013 Executive Order on
Open Data, the Obama Administration will launch a Climate Data Initiative.
Climate Assessment: The action plan notes the
third National Climate Assessment will be released in spring 2014.
Resilience: The National Institute of Standards and Technology
(NIST) will "convene a panel on disaster-resilience standards to develop a
comprehensive, community-based resilience framework and provide guidelines for
consistently safe buildings and infrastructure.”
Fundsfor Environmental Science and Restoration:
As Lewis-Burke has reported previously,
DOI will make available $100 million in competitive grants made possible from
the Hurricane Sandy Supplemental appropriations bill that Congress passed in
January. The climate action plan says the
grant program will "foster partnerships and promote resilient natural systems
while enhancing green spaces and wildlife habitat near urban populations.”
Sustainability: As Lewis-Burke has previously reported, USDA
will create seven new Regional Climate Hubs that will work with universities,
DOI’s Climate Science Centers, and NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences and
Assessments (RISA) program to assist agricultural producers in climate change
adaptation and resilience.
Resilience: The Department of Health and Human Services
(HHS) will initiate an effort to create resilient hospitals.
Transportation Technologies: The Administration will continue to invest in
research and development of biofuels.
Energy Delivery: The Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD) will put $23 million towards a Multifamily Energy Innovation
Fund, which would allow for academic institutions, among other groups, to
design and test new ways in which residential energy can be delivered in a
Energy Review: A quadrennial energy review will be conducted
by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Domestic Policy
Council in the White House.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
On June 26, the House
Appropriations Committee approved a $30.4 billion Energy and Water Development
Appropriations bill to fund the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation,
Department of Energy (DOE), and other independent agencies for fiscal year (FY)
2014. The Committee bill overall is $2.9
billion below the FY 2013 enacted level and approximately $700 million below
the enacted level after sequestration. Please
note that comparisons to the FY 2013 enacted level do not reflect the
across-the-board reductions required under sequestration. The House bill is $4.1 billion below the
President’s budget request. This is the
first domestic spending bill that reflects the significant spending reductions
that would be needed under the House-passed budget resolution and in the
absence of an overall long-term deficit reduction plan that would replace
House Subcommittee Chairman
Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) highlighted the "hard choices” the Subcommittee had
to make to meet its spending allocation.
The priorities for the bill include DOE’s national security programs,
including nuclear weapons; national and regional infrastructure programs
through the Army Corps of Engineers; nuclear clean-up; and programs to promote
economic competitiveness. The funding
recommendations in the bill reflect the decision of the House Republican
majority to write the FY 2014 bills to an overall discretionary total of $967
billion, the post-sequester spending cap level.
This level is $91 billion below the level of $1.058 trillion for
discretionary spending requested by the President and embraced by Senate
Democrats that assumes the sequester is overturned and a comprehensive budget
agreement is reached.
The House Committee recommends a
reduction of $1.4 billion below the FY 2013 enacted level before sequestration
for DOE’s energy programs. For the DOE
Office of Science, the House bill would provide $4.653 billion, which is a
reduction of about $223 million (4.6 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level. The House bill is nearly $500 million (9.7 percent)
below the President’s request for the Office of Science. The Committee indicates that it has given
priority to research, such as the basic research done by the Office of Science,
which only the federal government is likely to do. Within the Office of Basic Energy Sciences,
the Committee fully funds the President’s budget request of $24.2 million for
each of two Energy Innovation Hubs relating to Fuels from Sunlight and
Batteries. The House bill includes $60
million to support the Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), a reduction of
$40 million below the President’s request.
The Committee does not approve the request of an additional $68.7
million to fully fund additional centers.
The Committee also approves the budget request for exascale computing
totaling $68.58 million. Chairman
Frelinghuysen indicated that, as it did last year, the Subcommittee restores
cuts to the Fusion Energy program proposed by the President.
The House Committee makes the
deepest funding cuts in programs deemed a priority by the Administration. For the Advanced Research Projects Agency- Energy
(ARPA-E), the House proposes to reduce funding to $50 million, which is a
reduction of $215 million (81 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level. The House proposal is $329.0 million (86.8
percent) below the President’s request for ARPA-E. A Democratic amendment to restore the $215
million was defeated on a voice vote because the increased spending was not
offset with reductions elsewhere in the bill, and the amendment if adopted,
would exceed the Subcommittee’s budget allocation.
The House bill would transfer the
Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability to DOE’s Office of Energy
Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and fund the programs overall at $982.6
million, a reduction of $971 million (49.7 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level,
and $1.96 billion (66.6 percent) below the President’s budget request. The President’s budget request proposed to
increase these clean energy technology programs by over 50 percent to nearly $3
billion. A Democratic amendment was
offered to fund EERE at $2.8 billion during committee consideration of the
bill. The amendment was defeated on a
party line vote as the amendment if adopted, would exceed the Subcommittee’s
For the electricity programs, the
House bill recommends $80 million, a reduction of $32.5 million below the FY
2013 enacted level and $61.4 million below the President’s budget request. The House Committee recommends no funding for
the proposed Electricity Systems Energy Innovation Hub for which the President
requested $20 million.
Within EERE, the House Committee
emphasizes research to address high gas prices through the Bioenergy
Technologies, Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies, and Vehicle Technologies
programs, providing a total of $390 million for these activities. The House Committee also states that advanced
manufacturing is a priority, providing $120 million for this program with
continued support for the Critical Materials Energy Innovation Hub.
The House bill would provide
funding for ongoing Nuclear Energy activities at $656.4 million, a reduction of
$96.6 million (12.8 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level and $79.1 million
(10.8 percent) below the President’s budget request. The bill would provide $450 million for the
Fossil Energy R&D programs, which is an increase of $29.4 million (7.0
percent) above the President’s budget request, but $84 million (15.7 percent)
below the FY 2013 enacted level.
The recommendations for the DOE nuclear
security programs administered through the National Nuclear Security
Administration (NNSA) total $11.3 billion, which is a decrease of $235.6 million
(2.1 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level, and $386.5 million (3.3 percent)
below the President’s budget request. These programs include Weapons Activities,
Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Naval Reactors. As it did last year, the House Subcommittee
approves $25 million to retain the viability of the Yucca Mountain nuclear
For the water infrastructure
agencies, the House bill would provide $4.9 billion for the Army Corps of
Engineers, a reduction of $104 million (2.0 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level
excluding emergency appropriations associated with Hurricane Sandy, and $50
million (1.0 percent) above the President’s budget request. The House would provide $965 million for the
Bureau of Reclamation, which is $91.7 million (8.8 percent) below the FY 2013
enacted level and $93.6 million (8.9 percent) below the President’s
Energy-Water Development Appropriations Bill, FY 2014
by the House Appropriations Committee, 6/26/13
FY 2014 Request
FY 2014 House Cmte Mark
House Cmte vs.
FY 2013 Enacted
House Cmte vs.
FY 2014 Request
Development for Teachers and Scientists
Energy, Energy Reliability and Efficiency†
Energy Research and Development
Army Corps of Engineers, total
Bureau of Reclamation, total
* FY 2013 values are based on
the FY 2013 enacted values as given in the House report. They do not reflect sequestration.
† The House bill proposes combining EERE and Electricity Delivery and
Energy Reliability into this new account.
‡ Includes funds from the
Hurricane Sandy Supplemental Appropriations bill.
Our speaker will share a quick background on genes,
genetics and genetic engineering (aka biotechnology, GMOs). She will explore which
GE (GM) crops have been commercialized for foods and those which might be in the
future. These points will lead into the labeling issue with GE foods.
a faculty member in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at the University
of California, Berkeley. She has statewide responsibility for educational programming
designed to increase public understanding of agricultural practices, food production
and the impact of new technologies on food and agriculture. She has developed an
award--‐winning website, http://ucbiotech.org/, displays, games, videos and
curricula. Lemaux has a vigorous research program aimed at genetic engineering of
cereal crops for agronomic and nutritional improvement. She is also involved in
engineering tobacco to produce hydrocarbon biofuels. She is a fellow of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science, American Society of Agronomy and the
American Society of Plant Biologists, for which she currently serves as president.
Date: Monday, June 17, 2013
Time: 12:00 to 1:00 pm
Place: 107--‐A Room
107--‐A in the Whitten Building,
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Congress returned from the Memorial Day recess having made significant progress on the 2013 Farm Bill. On May 14 and 15, respectively, the Agriculture Committees in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives approved their versions of the 2013 Farm Bill. The Senate continues debate on its version of the bill this week, hoping to whittle down a list of some 200 amendments with a goal of passing the bill before Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) turns to the comprehensive immigration reform bill. The full House expects to debate its bill later this month. The House and Senate versions of the bill largely mirror the legislation approved last year, thus setting up the same potential issues over reforms of the crop insurance and related commodity support programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); both must be worked out before a final bill can be enacted.
On May 14, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry approved legislation that, if enacted into law, would result in a far-reaching reorganization of programs supporting the nation’s farmers and ranchers. On a bipartisan 15 to 5 vote, the Committee approved S. 954, the Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. The bill would dramatically restructure farm income support and crop insurance programs, as well as eliminate, consolidate, and streamline existing programs for conservation, rural development, trade, nutrition, energy, research and extension, forestry, and related programs for the five-year period through fiscal year (FY) 2018.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Senate’s nearly $955 billion authorization bill would reduce federal direct spending by an estimated net $17.8 billion over ten years below current law projections. This bill governs spending on entitlement and mandatory programs that are not subject to annual appropriations action by Congress. It also authorizes appropriations for programs, such as the research programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which Congress must fund each year in the appropriations bills.
On May 15, the House Committee on Agriculture approved a bipartisan 2013 Farm Bill on a vote of 36 to 10 following a marathon mark up. The House version of the Farm Bill, H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (FARRM), reflects a serious effort to reduce overall spending associated with agriculture-related and nutrition programs, and sets up some major issues, including crop insurance, commodity assistance, and benefits under SNAP, to be addressed with the Senate during eventual conference negotiations toward a final bill.
According to preliminary estimates by the CBO, the House version of the Farm Bill would total $940 billion over ten years and would reduce federal direct spending by an estimated $33.3 billion over ten years below current law projections.
In addition to the programs discussed below, both the Senate and House bills extend supplemental disaster assistance for livestock producers and other farmers experiencing losses due to drought and other natural disasters.
For the research programs authorized in the bills, existing authorities are largely extended through fiscal year (FY) 2018, including the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Both bills extend the authorization for NIFA’s extramural competitive grants program, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), at the current $700 million annual level (AFRI is currently funded at about $275 million in FY 2013). The Senate states that it makes no policy changes in the research programs of USDA. The House Committee notes that given current budget constraints, the Committee reduces existing authorization levels (not actual spending) by an estimated $500 million, and includes specific authorized funding levels for programs with open-ended ("such sums as may be necessary”) authorizations. The House Committee also removes USDA’s authority to fund non-competitive grants.
Both the Senate and House versions of the Farm Bill continue the current formula grant programs for land-grant institutions through FY 2018. Formula programs authorized under the Hatch Act and Smith-Lever Act have open-ended authorizations for appropriations at "such sums as may be necessary.” Both bills extend the authorizations for the Extension Service and for Hispanic-Serving Institutions through FY 2018.
Neither the Senate nor House bills address the indirect cost rate as the 2008 Farm Bill did. Thus, under the proposed bills, the indirect cost rate remains at the current level of 30 percent established in the Agriculture title of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013. The 2008 Farm Bill increased the indirect cost rate from 19 percent to 22 percent.
The most controversial provision in the research title of the House bill is a requirement (Section 7128) for USDA to institute a 1:1 match for new research grants. There is significant concern by researchers over the requirement to match federal funding from USDA on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
The Administration takes issue with a Senate and House provisions (Sections 7512 and 7513, respectively) barring USDA from obligating appropriated funding for extramural competitive research grants unless USDA submits a comprehensive spending plan to Congress for its approval.
Both the House and Senate bills reinstate the authorization of mandatory funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, the Organic Research and Extension Initaitive, and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program. These programs expired with other Farm Bill authorities last year when Congress failed to extend existing law.
The Senate bill authorizes a total of $416 million in mandatory funding for Specialty Crops over the FY 2014-FY 2023 period. A total of $80 million in mandatory funding over five years is provided for the Organic Research Initaitive. Finally, $85 million in mandatory funding over five years is provided for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program with military veterans included as eligible for the program.
CBO estimates mandatory spending for research, extension, and related matters in the House bill at $760 million over ten years. The House bill would provide $555 million over ten years for Specialty Crop Research; $100 million over five years for Organic Agriculture Research and Extension; and $100 million over five years for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development grants, also broadening eligibility to military veterans, and providing a set-aside of not more than five percent for this purpose.
Both bills also create a Veterinary Services Investment program to help address the shortage of veterinarians. The bills authorize $10 million for each fiscal year beginning in FY 2014 for activities to recruit, train, support, and retain veterinarians.
The Senate bill creates the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) as it did last year and includes $200 million in mandatory funding to capitalize the Foundation for research, which must be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis from non-federal funding. FFAR would promote a public-private partnership to leverage additional funding for agriculture research. The Senate bill includes mandatory funding of $200 million over five years toward this effort, which must be matched by non-federal funding through the Foundation. The House bill does not include FFAR in its version of the bill as it did last year.
Science Board's Task Force on Administrative Burdens' has issued
for information (RFI) to reduce investigator’s administrative workload for federally funded
research. The Federation of American Societies
for Experimental Biology (FASEB) has developed a survey to guide the development of
a response to this RFI (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FASEBadminburden).
The survey requests up to three areas
where you experience the greatest administrative burden in your daily
This RFI offers principal
investigators with Federal research funding the opportunity to identify Federal
agency and university requirements that contribute most to their administrative
workload and to offer recommendations for reducing that workload. Members of the
National Science Board’s Task Force on Administrative Burdens do not wish to
increase your administrative workload with this request and you may choose to
answer only those questions that are most pertinent to you. Your responses will
provide vital input so that we can implement agency-level changes and offer
recommendations to reduce unnecessary and redundant administrative
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
The American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) is pleased
with President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget request, which improves
upon his past commitments to the agricultural and plant sciences.
sustainable future, with a more nimble, more complete, and innovative
workforce, is in the national
interest. The challenge, however, is to
execute this strategy in an era of economic limits where anticipated outcomes
must justify the investment of limited resources. We cannot meet the food, shelter, and energy
demands of our burgeoning global population—especially with climate instability
as a backdrop—if investment into plant-related research stagnates in this
country. Ending that stagnation,
however, will allow us to leverage the new technologies that are transforming
biology, thereby accelerating the pace of discovery and promising creative and
sustainable solutions. President Obama’s FY 2014 proposed budget is
a step toward addressing these issues.
ASPB applauds the President’s strong commitment to the National Science
Foundation and the proposed increase of $4 million to the Plant Genome Research
Program, as well as the President’s proposed increases to Basic Energy Sciences
and Biological and Environmental Research within the Department of Energy’s
Office of Science. Notably, ASPB is also
pleased with the President’s request for a substantial increase to the U.S.
Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, proposing
an increase of over 28 percent compared to the recently-passed FY 2013 level
from Congress, not accounting for sequestration.
If the United
States is to tackle societal challenges
in food, energy, environment, and health, strategic investments in the
agricultural and plant sciences is vital.
ASPB hopes the President will continue his dedication to these issues
and urges Congress to commit to these needs, as well.
In an email to USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) partners, NIFA director Sonny Ramaswamy released the agency's plan for implementing the sequester. NIFA plans on funding all existing Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) awards, but will likely fund fewer new grants under the 5% reduction required by sequestration. Formula and capacity funding along with other research, education and extension program funding would also take a hit.
As you are likely aware, due to the failure of Congress
to reach a deal on balanced deficit reduction to avoid sequestration, the
President was required by law to issue a sequestration order canceling
approximately $85 billion in budgetary resources across the Federal government
for the remainder of the fiscal year (FY) 2013.
It is our intent at the National Institute of Food and
Agriculture (NIFA) and the Department of Agriculture
(USDA) to provide you with clear information about how
these budget cuts impact us, and in turn what it means for funds provided to
our land-grant universities and other partners who benefit from programs
administered by NIFA.
At this time, USDA is taking every step to mitigate the
effects of these cuts, but based on our initial analysis, it is possible that
your organization’s workforce, revenue, and planning processes may be affected.
Based on the
5 percent sequestration reductions that apply to the FY
2013 funding amounts, NIFA anticipates the following funding impacts:
reduction of $13 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
(AFRI), competitive grants program, potentially resulting in fewer new proposals
that may be funded during FY 2013;
Continuation awards from previous Fiscal Years will not be impacted by the
sequestration, and, continued funding will be based on evaluations of
performance and meeting stated goals;
Reductions totaling almost $37 million for capacity/formula funding;
Reductions for other research, education and extension programs totaling over $10 million.
While we are currently operating under the FY 2013 Continuing
Resolution, which provides temporary funding through March 27, 2013, NIFA is
proceeding with announcements for Requests for Applications for most
competitive grants programs and will hold competitive peer review panels.
However, grant awards will be contingent upon receipt of final FY 2013
NIFA plans to release some Formula Grant Opportunities
announcements soon. Consistent with the FY 2013 Continuing Resolution, only up
to 40 percent of the FY 2012 funding level will be released for the first two
Thank you for your continued partnership with the USDA
and NIFA, and for your cooperation as we work together to manage these
As always, we will continue to notify you as the
situation with FY 2013 funding levels moves through the appropriations process
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC ,
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
In the absence of agreement on a long-term deficit reduction
plan, on March 1st, President Obama signed an order directing
federal agencies to reduce spending subject to sequestration under the
Budget Control Act of 2011. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
estimates that to achieve the necessary $85 billion in savings, sequestration
would require a reduction of approximately 5.0 percent in non-defense
discretionary spending and 7.8 percent in non-exempt defense discretionary
spending. Additional reductions will be taken in certain mandatory
programs specified in the law.
As federal agencies prepare to implement the sequester, the
Congress is turning its attention to the Continuing Resolution (CR), which is
currently funding the entire federal government through March 27. There
is general agreement between Congress and the White House and between Democrats
and Republicans that there should be no government shutdown. It also
appears likely that there will be no attempt to try to overturn the sequester
in the final appropriations bill.
So what is likely to happen?
Due to the significant uncertainty, many federal
agencies restrained spending to hedge their bets in the uncertain budgetary
situation. Many agencies have implemented the traditional CR formula
using the lowest of the FY 2012 enacted level, the President’s FY 2013 budget
request, the House appropriations level, or the Senate appropriations
level. Agencies have also retained some percentage of funding under the
CR in anticipation of a possible sequester.
Because of these actions, the impact of the
sequester will vary by agency depending on the types of programs it
funds. For federal research agencies, the first priority is likely to be
funding existing grants and grantees.
Until Congress completes action on the FY 2013
appropriations bill, research agencies are likely to delay announcing new
Both the House and Senate Appropriations
Committees are working on the CR. The House Committee expects to fund defense-related
bills and to continue the CR level for other federal agencies. The
Senate Committee may offer an omnibus appropriations bill to complete action on
all 12 bills as significant progress on such a bill was made late last year.
Once agencies have a full-year budget to
implement their programs, there could be a flurry of funding solicitations
released with relatively short times for submitting applications in order to
obligate funding this fiscal year, which ends September 30.
In the meantime, each federal agency will be refining its
plan to implement the sequester (please see below for a list of agency
resources on the sequester). Congress and the White House will work to
agree on final FY 2013 appropriations, which will be subject to the sequester.
The next opportunity to restart negotiations between the White House and
Congress on a long-term deficit reduction plan, which may or may not revisit
the sequester, will be during consideration of the budget resolution for FY
2014 and discussions on raising the ceiling on the debt limit, which expires on
On February 14, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a
hearing on the impacts of sequestration. The website below will link you
to a list of department and agency letters to the Committee with information
about how sequestration is expected to impact each entity. Information
for NSF, NIH, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the
Departments of Defense, Commerce, Education, Agriculture, and Energy (as well
as numerous others) can be found here: http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/ht-full.cfm?method=hearings.view&id=17d3dc99-c065-4bec-a7c8-cfd374bf41a3.
In a policy memorandum released today, the Obama Administration "has directed Federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D
expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally
funded research freely available to the public within one year of
publication and requiring researchers to better account for and manage
the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research."
Expanding Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research
Posted by Michael Stebbins on February 22, 2013 at 12:04 PM EST
The Obama Administration is committed to the proposition that
citizens deserve easy access to the results of scientific research their
tax dollars have paid for. That’s why, in a policy memorandum released
today, OSTP Director John Holdren has directed Federal agencies with
more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the
published results of federally funded research freely available to the
public within one year of publication and requiring researchers to
better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally
funded scientific research. OSTP has been looking into this issue for
some time, soliciting broad public input on multiple occasions and
convening an interagency working group to develop a policy. The final
policy reflects substantial inputs from scientists and scientific
organizations, publishers, members of Congress, and other members of the
public—over 65 thousand of whom recently signed a We the Peoplepetition asking for expanded public access to the results of taxpayer-funded research.
5, the director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Subra Suresh announced
he will be leaving his position at NSF in March to become president of Carnegie
Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Suresh stated in a note to NSF
staff, "It has been my extraordinary honor to lead the National Science
Foundation, which is blessed with a marvelous cohort of highly talented and
devoted staff, as well as hundreds of thousands of innovative grantees and
investigators from every field of science and engineering. I am grateful for
the opportunity to serve the country in this capacity.” Suresh was appointed NSF director by President
Barack Obama in 2010. His successor has not yet been named.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) calls for applications for its Student Volunteer Program for Summer 2013. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional program students are encouraged to apply - via OSTP:
OSTP Student Volunteer Program—Summer 2013
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is
currently accepting applications for its Summer 2013 Student Volunteer
Program. The application deadline is 11:59pm Friday, February 22nd.
Students who are U.S. citizens and who will be actively enrolled during the
Fall 2013 semester are welcome to apply.
OSTP. The Office of Science and Technology Policy advises the
President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international
affairs. The office serves as a source of scientific and technological analysis
and judgment for the President with respect to major policies, plans and
programs of the Federal Government.
Student Volunteer Program. Student
Volunteersare accepted for one of three annual terms (Spring, Summer, or
Fall),which each last no more than 90 days.While these positions
are without compensation, the assignments provide educational enrichment,
practical work experience, and network opportunities with other individuals in
the science and technology policy arena.
The S&T Policy Fellowship, a unique one-year
professional development opportunity,provides the selected fellows with hands-on experience working with the
California Legislature to incorporate science and technology into public
policy. The fellowships build on the highly successful model of the Science and
Technology Policy Fellowships offered by the American Advancement for Science
(AAAS) each year. Eligible applicants are PhD-level (or equivalent)
scientists and engineers who are "interested in improving the
interface between science and legislative decision-making and who want to learn
the public policy decision-making process.”
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Friday, December 21, 2012
ASPB co-sponsored a briefing on Capitol Hill, titled "From
the Root Up: Understanding the 2012 Drought,” with the American Meteorological
Society. The House Committee on Science,
Space, and Technology hosted the briefing, which discussed both the impacts to
crops from this year’s drought as well as the meteorological and climate
conditions that lead to the drought.
Dave Wegner, Professional Staff for the House Committee on
Transportation’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment provided
opening remarks in order to frame the briefing and subsequent discussion. The briefing was well attended, with over 60
congressional staff and stakeholders present.
invited John Boyer (in photo, left), the E. I. du Pont Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Emeritus at the University of Delaware to speak about how plants respond to
drought and the advances in crop drought tolerance. Dr. Boyer noted that this year’s drought in
the Midwestern U.S. was initially expected to cause losses in our food supply. However, this was averted thanks to plant
biology research that has led to the incorporation of drought tolerant traits in
modern crops. Dr. Boyer explained that
further research is needed in plant biology in order to build upon these
successes and improve drought tolerance in crops. In response to a question from the audience,
Dr. Boyer noted that despite these advances, food prices still rose this year
because other parts of the world are increasingly demanding animal protein and,
subsequently, increasingly demanding grain to feed animals.
The American Meteorological Society invited John
Nielsen-Gammon (in photo, middle), Regents Professor at Texas A&M University and Texas State
Climatologist, as well as Roger Pulwarty (in photo, right), Director of the National Integrated
Drought Information System at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration. Dr. Nielsen-Gammon
discussed how climatic conditions make certain parts of the world, including
the Midwest, more susceptible to drought, and Dr. Pulwarty spoke about the ways
in which various government agencies work with state and local stakeholders to
plan decisions around drought information and forecasts.
ASPB will continue to educate Members of Congress and their
staff on plant biology related issues through congressional briefings and meetings
in order to advance plant biology research.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
On September 14, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a report that outlines the potential across-the-board spending reductions (impacts on specific agencies of interest below) scheduled to take effect on January 2, 2013, due to Congress' failure last year to pass a deficit reduction package totaling at least $1.2 trillion over ten years. Under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (debt limit agreement), Congress enacted the across-the-board sequester to achieve deficit reduction should the efforts of the Supercommittee fail as they ultimately did.
Prior to the August recess, Congress passed the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-155) that requires the President to submit a report to Congress on the potential impacts of the sequester. In that report, the President makes clear his Administration has no flexibility in calculating or implementing the sequester as they are defined in law.
According to the report, the sequester would be applied to more than 1,200 federal budget accounts as follows:
The overall reduction in spending would be an estimated $109.3 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2013.
The reduction would be split equally between defense and nondefense spending, with each being reduced by nearly $54.7 billion.
The estimated reduction for nondefense discretionary programs would be 8.2 percent (note: Pell grants are exempt from the sequester).
The estimated reduction for defense discretionary programs would be 9.4 percent, and reflects the President's decision (as allowed by law) to exempt military personnel from the sequester.
Payments to Medicare providers would be reduced by 2.0 percent as capped in the law.
Other non-exempt, nondefense mandatory programs would be reduced by 7.6 percent.
Non-exempt, defense mandatory programs would be reduced by 10.0 percent.
The report notes that should the sequester actually be triggered in January, OMB would have to run the calculations and the sequester amounts could change. The Administration underscores, however, that "the sequestration would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments, and core government functions.” The President calls on Congress to work toward a "comprehensive and balanced deficit reduction plan” to avoid the sequester. Republicans and Democrats have been unable to coalesce around a mechanism/structure for doing so, with most proposals thus far being highly partisan.
The sequester would be applied to the FY 2012 enacted funding levels in the absence of final FY 2013 appropriations bills. Examples of the potential funding impact of the sequester could be:
National Institutes of Health (NIH) – an estimated reduction of $2.518 billion;
National Science Foundation (NSF), Research account – an estimated reduction of $469 million;
Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science – an estimated reduction of $400 million;
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Science account – an estimated reduction of $417 million;
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Operations, Research, and Facilities – an estimated reduction of $257 million;
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Scientific and Technical Research Services – an estimated reduction of $47 million;
Department of Defense (DOD) RDT&E – each service and the defense-wide account would be reduced from an estimated $954 million (Army) to as much as an estimated $2.7 billion (Air Force); and
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Research and Education Activities – an estimated reduction of $58 million.
The sequester report provides the amounts of the sequester, but it does not include specifics about the programmatic impacts of such large potential funding reductions, which will be the questions now asked of the Administration. The President and Congressional leaders will likely try to find an accommodation to address the pending sequester during the lame duck session following the election.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Changes to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are currently being implemented following the law that was signed in December 2011 to reauthorize these programs through 2017. As a result of these changes the Small Business Administration (SBA) is seeking comments from the community on its policy directive, which provides guidance to federal agencies to implement its SBIR/STTR programs. SBA feels that public input would be valuable and may use comments in an amended directive in the future.Please note that SBA can amend the policy directive as needed.
The recently passed law reauthorizing the SBIR/STTR programs contained several provisions of interest to universities including an agreement to slowly increase the set aside percentage for SBIR from 2.5 to 3.2 percent and the STTR set aside from 0.3 percent to 0.45 percent over the course of the six-year reauthorization. The reauthorization also increased Phase I and Phase II award levels, and included several provisions to promote commercialization.
Given the provisions of the law which could have a direct impact on universities I thought you would be interested in SBA's invitation to comment on the policy directive. Specific areas of interest to universities include, but are not limited to:
Provisions to promote commercialization such as the proposed National Institutes for Health (NIH) Proof of Concept pilot program, which would provide funding to qualifying intuitions, including universities, to accelerate commercialization of research.
Techniques to promote the transfer between Phase I and Phase II of SBIR.
New commercialization benchmarks, which will be established in 2013.
The importance of innovation and public private partnerships to the current Administration across federal agencies, as well as increased funding for SBIR and STTR, make it important for universities comment on issues of relevance. Comments must be submitted to SBA by October 5, 2012. To assist stakeholders with the directives and provide further information on the comment process SBA is hosting a webinar on Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 2pm EDT. To join the webinar, you must register by 11:59 on August 28 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has modified its funding opportunity for proposals to improve the safety of the nation's food supply by reducing foodborne hazards. USDA intends to combine the fiscal year (FY) 2012 and FY 2013 opportunities and has increased the amount of funding available to approximately $10 million. The deadlines for the submission of letters of intent and full proposals have both been extended as outlined below. Please read the full Request for Application (RFA) for the changes to the previously announced food safety funding opportunity.
USDA seeks proposals with a focus on addressing emerging food safety issues, developing mitigation strategies for anti-microbial resistance, and improving the safety of fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. The Obama Administration has identified food safety as one of five major challenge areas for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). USDA continues to build on the original goals announced for the competitive Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).
In the Request for Applications, USDA seeks proposals in three areas:
Control and mitigation strategies for known pathogens on foods not generally the subject of foodborne illnesses, such as carrot juice, broccoli powder, pepper, and hazelnuts;
Strategies to address antimicrobial resistance in food production; and
Improving the safety of fresh and fresh-cut produce.
Letters of Intent: Letters of Intent are required and are due September 17, 2012.
Due Date: Applications are due December 5, 2012.
Total Funding and Award Size: USDA plans to provide up to $10 million for new grants under this funding opportunity.
Critical and Emerging Food Safety Issues. USDA will support both basic and applied research on emerging pathogens with a particular emphasis on mitigation strategies. Also of interest are strategies to control contamination of foods not usually associated with such pathogens. Collaboration with industry and government are encouraged.
Standard Grants may be up to $300,000 total, including indirect costs, for a project period up to five years. USDA expects to make up to six awards. Research grants are requested. Applications for Conference and Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement (FASE) Grants may also be submitted.
Effective Mitigation Strategies for Antimicrobial Resistance. USDA seeks grants addressing one or more of four topics: to identify critical points for mitigating antimicrobial resistance in animal production systems; to determine and assess effective mitigation strategies; to develop effective training and education materials; and to design studies to assess potential interventions.
Standard Grants may be up to $800,000 total, including indirect costs, for a project period up to five years. USDA expects to make up to six new awards. Integrated Projects are requested. Conference and FASE Grants will also be accepted. Applications from and collaborations with Minority-Serving Institutions, USDA EPSCoR institutions, and other small or mid-sized institutions are encouraged.
Safety of Fresh and Fresh-cut Produce. USDA identifies several challenges and seeks applications that focus on the ecology of foodborne pathogens in production, processing, and retail settings and strategies for countering such threats. Grants can also focus on how to improve methods of handling fresh and fresh-cut food products, and the development of new food processing technologies.
USDA seeks Standard Grants of up to $425,000, including indirect costs, for projects of up to five years. USDA anticipates making up to eight new awards. Integrated project proposals are requested. Conference and FASE Grants may also be submitted. Applications from and collaborations with Minority-Serving Institutions, USDA EPSCoR institutions, and other small or mid-sized institutions are encouraged.
Eligibility and Limitations: Eligible applicants include public, state, and private colleges and universities; Native American tribal organizations; non-profit organizations; small businesses; for-profit organizations other than a small business; and individuals.
Cost-sharing Requirement: Cost sharing is required under certain circumstances, including for equipment. If a funded grant is commodity specific and not of national scope, a one-to-one match can be required. There is some waiver authority available to the Secretary of Agriculture. Please see the full RFA referenced below for additional details.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
What: A live, online discussion on the future of agricultural research Who: The field's leading voices, and you Where: This is an online event. Please register here. When: July 25, 2012 from 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. EDT
ASPB is a founding member of Supporters of Agricultural Research (SOAR). We encourage you to participate in the online launch of this new organization, which aims to help increase funding for the competitive, investigator-initiated agricultural research supported by the USDA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). Please register here.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Monday, July 16, 2012
On July 11, the House Committee on Agriculture approved a bipartisan
2012 Farm Bill on a vote of 35 to 11 following a marathon mark up in which
approximately 100 amendments were filed to the bill. The House version of the Farm Bill, H.R.
6083, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012 (FARRM),
reflects a serious effort to reduce overall spending associated with
agriculture-related and nutrition programs and sets up some major issues,
including crop insurance and benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program (SNAP/formerly food stamps), to be addressed with the Senate
during eventual conference negotiations toward a final bill.
In introducing the House version of the Farm Bill,
Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) noted that the bill is
bipartisan and that his work with his Ranking Member, Rep. Collin Peterson
(D-MN) has "resulted in a reform-minded, fiscally responsible policy that is
equitable for farmers and ranchers in all regions and will lead to improved
program delivery.” Rep. Peterson
characterized the bill as putting Congress a step closer to "complet[ing] work
on the 2012 Farm Bill before the current bill expires” on September 30. Rep. Peterson called on the House leadership
to take up the bill for debate by the full House of Representatives before the
August recess so the House and Senate can conference a final bill in September.
The Chairman and Ranking Member highlighted that the House
Saves more than $35 billion in mandatory
funding, with nearly half of the savings associated with changes/reforms in the
Repeals or consolidates more than 100 programs
Eliminates direct payments and countercyclical
payments to farmers for commodity losses, as does the Senate bill, and makes
changes to commodity policy that would save more than $14 billion;
Consolidates conservation programs, going from
23 programs to 13 for savings of about $6 billion; and
Makes changes to reduce the federal regulatory
burdens on farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.
According to preliminary estimates by the Congressional
Budget Office (CBO), the House version of the Farm Bill would reduce federal direct
spending by an estimated $35.1 billion over ten years from current law
projections. This bill governs spending
on entitlement and mandatory programs that are not subject to annual
appropriations action by Congress. It
also authorizes appropriations for programs, such as the research and extension
programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which Congress must fund
each year in the appropriations bills.
The Committee adopts
reforms to nutrition entitlement programs, including significant changes to the
SNAP program, for net savings of nearly $16.1 billion over ten years. During Committee consideration of the bill,
amendments to reverse the SNAP program cuts and to scale them back to $4.5
billion, the amount approved in the Senate version of the bill, were defeated.
As does the Senate bill, the House bill achieves additional deficit
reduction by eliminating direct and countercyclical payments and related
payments for major commodity programs, such as wheat, corn, soybeans, etc. These provisions save $14 billion over ten
years. The Committee bill also includes
provisions to streamline and reform commodity policy. CBO estimates net savings from the commodity
programs at $23.6 billion over ten years.
The Senate bill saved $19.8 billion over ten years. The House bill continues crop insurance with
a goal of improving coverage for producers of all crops in all regions.
As does the Senate bill, the House bill proposes to
eliminate duplication and consolidate federal programs, such as conservation
programs. The House bill would save nearly
$6.1 billion over ten years from proposed changes in conservation programs.
For the USDA research and extension programs, the House bill
would largely extend current programs; however given current budget
constraints, the Committee reduces existing authorization levels (not actual
spending) by an estimated $500 million, and includes specific authorized
funding levels for programs with open-ended ("such sums as may be necessary”)
authorizations. The House Committee also removes USDA’s authority to fund non-competitive
The most controversial provision in the research title of
the bill is a requirement for USDA to institute a 1:1 match for applied research
grants that are commodity-specific or State-specific. While there is waiver authority for the
Secretary of Agriculture should such research be determined "a national
priority,” there is significant concern over the requirement to match federal
funding on a dollar-for-dollar basis. An
amendment was offered by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) to strike this provision
(Section 7127) from the bill. After
discussion and assurances by the Chairman and Ranking Member that they will
work with Committee Members, affected stakeholders, and USDA to craft a
consensus that could be included in the final bill, the amendment was
The House bill would extend the authorization for intramural
research through the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) through FY 2017. It would also reauthorize the National
Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through FY 2017 and extend the
authorization for NIFA’s extramural competitive grants program, the Agriculture
and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), at the current $700 million annual level
(AFRI is funded at $264.5 million in FY 2012).
The bill would also reauthorize funding for the Extension Service and
extends authority for the Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) program.
The House Committee continues mandatory funding, as well as
authorizes additional appropriations if Congress so chooses, for Specialty Crop
Research, Organic Agriculture Research and Extension, and Beginning Farmer and
Rancher Development. CBO estimates
mandatory spending for research, extension, and related matters in the House
bill at $546 million over ten years. The
House broadens eligibility for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development grants
to military veterans, providing a set-aside of not more than five percent for
Also within the research title, as did the Senate, the House
bill would establish a new program to recruit, train, support, and retain
veterinarians. The bill authorizes $10
million for each fiscal year beginning in FY 2013.
The House version of the Farm Bill has no provisions
affecting the current formula grant programs for land-grant institutions. Formula programs authorized under the Hatch
Act and Smith-Lever Act have open-ended authorizations for appropriations at
"such sums as may be necessary.”
The House bill does not address the indirect cost rate as
the 2008 Farm Bill did. Thus, under the proposed
House bill, the indirect cost rate remains at the current level of 30 percent established
in the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill.
The House and Senate versions of the FY 2013 Agriculture, Rural
Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations
bill currently pending before Congress would extend the 30 percent indirect
cost rate for another year. The 2008
Farm Bill increased the indirect cost rate from 19 percent to 22 percent.
The House bill does not include provisions that would
establish a non-profit Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) to
promote a public-private partnership to leverage additional funding for
agriculture research. The Senate bill
includes language to create FFAR with mandatory funding of $100 million toward
this effort, which must be matched by non-federal funding through the
The House Farm Bill would extend existing energy programs
affecting rural areas for five years through FY 2017, including the Biomass
Research and Development Initiative (BRDI), which would be authorized at $20
million annually. In a significant
departure from the Senate bill, the House provides that these energy programs
are subject to funding by Congress through the annual appropriations
bills. The Senate bill provides nearly
$800 million in mandatory spending to continue existing energy programs, which
would require no further action by the Congress.
Following the completion of the House committee markup,
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack issued a statement that took issue with the recommended
deep cuts in the SNAP program and with "misguided” reductions to energy and
conservation programs. The Secretary
indicated that the Administration would work with Congress during the
legislative process to achieve a Farm Bill that is consistent with the
President’s budget and policies.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Monday, July 02, 2012
On June 25, the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Biological Sciences released a Dear Colleague Letter to notify the community of additional fiscal year (FY) 2012-2013 funding opportunities within the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS). These opportunities are in addition to programs announced in specialized Program Solicitations, and aim to address the need for continued support of training at all levels.
Mid-Career Supplements in Organismal Biology
Supplemental funding will be available in FY 2012-2013 for existing IOS awards to support research visits, participation in training opportunities at other facilities, and the use of genome research facilities unavailable at the applicant's institution. Additionally, funds may also be requested for salary support of the applicant during the training period, if necessary.
IOS seeks to fund "one or more hands-on workshops that provide one to three-week residential training experiences in wet lab and/or bioinformatics approaches to organismal research.”
Research Experiences for Teachers and Research Assistantships for High School Students
Supplemental funding is available for Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) and Research Assistantships for High School Students (RAHSS) research opportunities. IOS "encourages proposers to consider their inclusion in preliminary proposals and invited full proposals submitted to the FY 2013 IOS Core Program Solicitation.”