Peters, Gardner Introduce Substitute to American Innovation and Competitiveness Act

Authorizes a Four Percent Increase in 2018 for Research & Development Policy

Washington, DC – Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee’s innovation and competitiveness working group on federal science and technology research policies, introduced a substitute amendment to  S. 3084, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act. The amendment includes a four percent increase in National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) authorization levels for FY 2018 over FY 2017 in addition to technical corrections to the bill following feedback from various stakeholder groups.

The bipartisan American Innovation and Competitiveness Act maximizes basic research by reducing administrative burdens for researchers, enhancing agency oversight, improving research dissemination, and reforming federal science agencies to increase the impact of taxpayer-funded research. The legislation most directly affects programs within the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). It will be considered by the Commerce Committee at a markup scheduled for June 29, 2016, at 10:00 a.m.

“In order to ensure our nation’s long-term prosperity, we must commit to making considerable, predictable investments in research and development that will keep our country globally competitive,” said Senator Peters, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness. “These investments are a down payment on America’s economic future and I’m proud Senator Gardner and I were able to craft a bipartisan plan to increase federal investments in basic research that will build the foundation for a stronger ecosystem of discovery and innovation."

“The substitute amendment I introduced with Senator Peters to the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act recognizes the importance of providing robust resources to our research and science communities in order to keep America competitive,” said Senator Gardner. “I’m proud of the bipartisan nature of this legislation, and I look forward to a full and open debate.”

Highlights of S. 3084, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act

Maximizing Basic Research

- Peer review – Reaffirms the NSF’s merit-based peer review process for determining grants.

- Broadening research opportunities – Updates and renames NSF’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) for underutilized regions to reflect its established record.

- Cybersecurity research – Directs research to help better protect computer systems from cyber threats.

- Transparency and accountability – Codifies reforms to increase transparency and accountability in the National Science Foundation (NSF) grantmaking process.

- Oversight implementation – Requires NSF to address concerns about waste and abuse by improving oversight of large research facility construction, updates a conflicts of interest policy, and reforms management of the Antarctic research program. 

Reducing Regulatory Burdens

- Interagency working group – Establishes an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and OSTP-led interagency working group to reduce administrative burdens on federally-funded researchers.

- Obsolete reporting requirements – Repeals obsolete federal agency reporting requirements as well as previous authorizations for programs that have not been implemented.

Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) Education

- Outside advisory panel – Authorizes a STEM education advisory panel of outside experts to help guide federal STEM education program decision making.

- Expands opportunities for women – Expands NSF grant programs to increase participation and expand STEM opportunities to women and other under-represented groups.

Manufacturing, Commercialization, and Leveraging the Private Sector

- Crowdsourcing Science – Expands opportunities for crowdsourcing research input and citizen science participation by organizations and individuals.

- Manufacturing – Updates NIST’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program for small and medium sized businesses by adjusting the federal cost-share requirement and implementing new accountability and oversight requirements.

- Promoting entrepreneurship – Authorizes and expands NSF’s Innovation Corps program to promote entrepreneurship and commercialization education, training, and mentoring of federally-funded researchers.

- Commercialization grants – Authorizes and expands grants to promote the commercialization of federally-funded research.