01.06.17

President Signs Gardner-Peters American Innovation and Competitiveness Act Into Law

Washington, DC – President Obama today signed the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, a bicameral, bipartisan legislative compromise originally introduced by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI), along with John Thune (R-SD), and Bill Nelson (D-FL). The first major update to federal research and technology policy to originate in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in more than a decade, this legislation maximizes basic research opportunities, reduces administrative burdens for researchers, encourages scientific entrepreneurship, and promotes oversight of taxpayer-funded research. The legislation also promotes diversity in STEM fields, incentivizes private-sector innovation, and boosts manufacturing. It 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). 

During a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing, Former National Science Board official Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier stated, “This committee has already addressed one of the greatest long-term threats to American innovation: You’ve made science bipartisan again, countering rhetoric that has at times made the research community feel under siege.”

“I’m proud to see the President sign the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act into law today. A strong, bipartisan effort, this legislation is the result of nearly two years of work to gather input from the scientific community, universities, and interested stakeholders,” said Senator Gardner. “I thank Chairman Thune, Ranking Member Nelson, and Senator Peters for their leadership and hard work to not only make science bipartisan again, but ensure that America stays at the forefront of cutting-edge research and development.”

“I’m pleased the President signed into law this important bipartisan bill that will ensure America maintains a competitive edge in the global economy,” said Senator Peters, Ranking Member of the Space, Science and Competitiveness Subcommittee. “Scientific research and innovation are the foundation of a strong economy, and the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act will help leverage federal investments in basic research, strengthen STEM education to train a skilled workforce and support small and medium sized manufacturers to keep our country internationally competitive. I was honored to work with Chairman Thune, Ranking Member Nelson and Senator Gardner to craft this vital legislation that will help our economy continue to grow.” 

Highlights of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act

Maximizing Basic Research

•            Highlights Peer Review: Reaffirms the appropriateness of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) intellectual merit and broader impacts criteria used to evaluate grant proposals. 

•            Keeps Government Accountable to Taxpayers: Promotes transparency by requiring public notices of grants to justify the project’s expenditures and confirm that they align with NSF’s priorities. 

•            Broadens Research Opportunities: Updates NSF’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) to continue promoting groundbreaking research in states that receive relatively little federal research money.

•            Modernizes Existing Programs: Includes updates to the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) programs, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) laboratory and education outreach programs.

Administrative and Regulatory Burden Reduction

•            Reduces Paperwork Burdens: Establishes an inter-agency working group to provide recommendations on eliminating unnecessary paperwork for researchers and institutions.

•            Streamlines Government: Repeals obsolete agency reports and unfunded government programs.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

•            Enhances Scientific Community Input: Establishes a STEM Advisory Panel composed of academic and industry representatives to provide recommendations on federal STEM programs.

•            Promotes Diversity in STEM Fields: Creates a working group to study how to improve inclusion of women and underrepresented individuals in STEM fields and reaffirms the necessity of broadening participation in STEM fields through NSF programs.

Leveraging the Private Sector

•            Incentivizes Private-Sector Innovation: Updates prize competition authority to encourage greater participation in federal prize competitions.

•            Expands Opportunities for Public Involvement: Permits federal science agencies to use crowdsourcing as a tool to conduct agency projects.

Manufacturing

•            Encourages Improved Manufacturing: Adjusts the federal cost-share ratio and implements new accountability and oversight provisions within NIST’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program.

Innovation and Technology Transfer

•       Bolsters Scientific Entrepreneurship: Authorizes the successful I-Corps program to help scientists move their research from the laboratory to the marketplace.

•       Reaffirms Importance of Commercialization: Directs NSF to continue awarding translational research grants and strengthen public-private cooperation.

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