Select the date you wish to review to expand the content. If you are looking for an update prior to those listed, contact Connie Johnson.
October 20, 2014
White House Names Ebola Coordinator
President Obama has asked Ron Klain, who served as chief of staff to both Vice President Biden and former vice president Al Gore, as his Ebola response coordinator, according to a White House official. Klain, 53, is a longtime Democratic operative who served as Biden's chief of staff from 2009 to 2011 and as Gore's from 1995 to 1999. He helped oversee the Democratic side in the 2000 presidential election recount as its lead lawyer. Klain left the White House in 2011 to become president of Case Holdings, the holding company for the business and philanthropic interests of former AOL chairman Steve Case, and general counsel of Revolution LLC, a Washington-based venture capital firm founded by Case. (Source: Washington Post)
White House Announces NASA Deputy Administrator Nomination
The White House has announced that Dr. Dava Newman will be nominated for Deputy Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Dr. Newman is a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr. Newman is a Harvard-MIT Health, Sciences and Technology faculty member and became a MacVicar Faculty Fellow in 2000. She is also the Director of the MIT Portugal Program, Director of the Technology and Policy Program, and Co-Director of the Man-Vehicle Laboratory at MIT. (Source: SpaceNews)
Radzanowski Confirmed as NASA CFO
David P. Radzanowski was confirmed by the Senate as NASA's Chief Financial Office (CFO) on September 11. He succeeds Elizabeth "Beth" Robinson. President Obama originally submitted the nomination on November 21, 2013. Nominations expire at the end of each year and the President resubmitted it in January. Radzanowski, often called "Radz," has been serving as Chief of Staff to NASA Administrator Bolden. Prior to that, he was Deputy Associate Administrator for Program Integration for the Space Operations Mission Directorate. Prior to joining NASA in 2006, Radzanowski was Branch Chief for Science and Space at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Before that, he was a space policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the non-partisan research and analysis arm of the U.S. Congress. (Source: SpacePolicyOnline)
New Directors Named for NIST Physical Measurement & Engineering Labs
In September, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) Acting Director Dr. Willie May announced his selection of Dr. James Olthoff to become the next Director of the NIST Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML), pending Department of Commerce approval. PML develops and disseminates the national standards of length, mass, force and shock, acceleration, time and frequency, electricity, temperature, humidity, pressure and vacuum, liquid and gas flow, and electromagnetic, optical, microwave, acoustic, ultrasonic, and ionizing radiation through activities ranging from fundamental measurement research to provision of measurement services, including calibration services, standards, and data. The PML is also responsible for coordinating the NIST-wide Calibrations and Weights and Measures Programs. Dr. Olthoff is currently Deputy Director of PML.
Pending Department of Commerce approval, Dr. May also selected Dr. Howard Harary as the next Director of the NIST Engineering Laboratory. Howard has been acting in that capacity for the last year. He started his career in government service at the National Bureau of Standards in 1985. Dr. Harary currently serves on the visiting panel for the University of Maryland’s Mechanical Engineering Department, is a member of the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Council on Standards and Certification, a member of the Board on Standardization and Testing, and is the government representative to the Board of PDES Inc. -- an industrial consortium working in the area of the digital exchange of manufacturing information. He also chairs the ISO TC213 Working Group on general requirements for dimensional measuring equipment. (Source: NIST)
White House Announces Nomination for USPTO Director
The White House has announced President Obama’s plans to officially nominate Michelle Lee for the position of Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Although Lee is already the de facto Director of the office, this move has important political implications because it will help to better ensure both USPTO autonomy and USPTO influence within the Beltway. (Source: Patently-O)
Shana Dale Joins FAA Commercial Space Office as Deputy AA
Shana Dale will become Deputy Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (AST) at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as of November 3, 2014. She succeeds George Zamka who left AST this summer to join Bigelow Aerospace. Dale has served in a number of positions on Capitol Hill and in the George W. Bush Administration. She is perhaps best known in space policy circles as the first woman to serve as Deputy Administrator of NASA from 2005-2009 while Mike Griffin was Administrator. (Source: Space Policy Online)
President Obama Honors Nation’s Top Scientists and Innovators
On October 3rd, President Obama announced a new class of recipients of the National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation—our Nation’s highest honors for achievement and leadership in advancing the fields of science and technology. The new awardees will receive their medals at a White House ceremony later this year. See the full list of recipients here.
The National Medal of Science was created by statute in 1959 and is administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation. Awarded annually, the Medal recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering. The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was created by statute in 1980 and is administered for the White House by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office. The award recognizes those who have made lasting contributions to America’s competitiveness and quality of life and helped strengthen the Nation’s technological workforce. (Source: White House)
Department of Education Announces 3-Year Federal Student Loan Cohort Default Rates
In late September, the Department of Education announced that the three-year federal student loan cohort default rate declined from 14.7 percent in Fiscal Year 2010 to 13.7 percent for students who began repayment in Fiscal Year 2011. The default rates for students at public institutions was overall 12.9 percent (8.9 percent at four-year institutions) as compared to 7.2 percent for students at private, nonprofit institutions, and 19.1 percent at for-profit institutions.
As a result of individual default rates of institutions, 21 institutions, mostly for-profit schools of beauty and cosmetology, now face the potential loss of Title IV eligibility. The number of institutions facing Department of Education sanctions would have been higher had the Department not recently changed their default rate calculation to exclude borrowers who defaulted on one loan but maintained repayment on other loans. The original press release may be found in its entirety here. (Source: APLU)
NIH Awards Initial $46 Million for BRAIN Initiative Research
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced its first wave of investments totaling $46 million in FY14 funds to support the goals of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. More than 100 investigators in 15 states and several countries will work to develop new tools and technologies to understand neural circuit function and capture a dynamic view of the brain in action. These new tools and this deeper understanding will ultimately catalyze new treatments and cures for devastating brain disorders and diseases that are estimated by the World Health Organization to affect more than one billion people worldwide.
The majority of the grants focus on developing transformative technologies that will accelerate fundamental neuroscience research and include:
• classifying the myriad cell types in the brain
• producing tools and techniques for analyzing brain cells and circuits
• creating next-generation human brain imaging technology
• developing methods for large-scale recordings of brain activity
• integrating experiments with theories and models to understand the functions of specific brain circuits
Last year, President Obama launched the BRAIN Initiative as a large-scale effort to equip researchers with fundamental insights necessary for treating a wide variety of brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury. Four federal agencies — NIH, the National Science Foundation, the Food and Drug Administration and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — stepped up to the “grand challenge” and committed more than $110 million to the Initiative for fiscal year 2014. Planning for the NIH component of the BRAIN initiative is guided by the long-term scientific plan, “BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision” that details seven high-priority research areas. For more information about the BRAIN Initiative, please visit: http://www.braininitiative.nih.gov. (Source: NIH)
NIH Invests Almost $32 Million to Increase Utility of Biomedical Research Data
A new group of wide-ranging National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants will develop new strategies to analyze and leverage the explosion of increasingly complex biomedical data sets, often referred to as Big Data. These NIH multi-institute awards constitute an initial investment of nearly $32 million in fiscal year 2014 by NIH’s Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative, which is projected to have a total investment of nearly $656 million through 2020, pending available funds. The funding will establish 12 centers that will each tackle specific data science challenges. The awards will also provide support for a consortium to cultivate a scientific community-based approach on the development of a data discovery index, and for data science training and workforce development. Learn more about the grants and their recipients here: http://bd2k.nih.gov/FY14.html. (Source: NIH)
AAU and COGR Comment on Proposed Rules on Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards
The Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) have submitted comments to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on the agency's Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS). The associations' comments primarily reiterate their view that research and teaching laboratories at nonprofit research organizations should be exempt from the CFATS because the standards are designed to regulate the security of high-risk chemical facilities, not universities. COGR and AAU note that, unlike at industrial chemical facilities, chemicals at universities are of limited quantities and dispersed among various laboratories, buildings, and campuses. For that reason, they note, "the risk and possibility that these chemicals could be stolen in the masses required to produce a national security threat are low." (Source: AAU)
Associations Comment on Revisions to USPTO Guidance on Patenting Natural Products
A group of six higher education associations-including the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU)- submitted comments to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on October 16th regarding the agency's proposed revisions to its March Guidance on patenting natural phenomena and products.
In the new document, which supplements comments they submitted to USPTO on this issue in July, the associations express concern that USPTO officials have suggested at recent public events that the March Guidance might be further revised before the final version is published. Given the "profound impact" that any revised guidance would have on the life sciences community, the associations write, the agency should issue any newly revised guidance in draft form for public comment so that the patent community and the public can offer their views on any substantive proposed changes.
On the substance of the guidance document, the associations reiterate their strong concern that the USPTO's overly broad language will impede universities from securing patent protection, hindering their ability to translate important discoveries into new, useful products. (Source: AAU)
DC at CU
Congressman Polis Addresses Space Grant Western Regional meeting
On Saturday October 11th, Representative Jared Polis addressed the Space Grant Western Regional meeting held in Boulder. This event was hosted by the Colorado Space Grant program, housed at CU-Boulder, and included representatives from Space Grant programs from 20 states and NASA Education leadership. (Source: CU)
College Democrats Host Campus Campaign Rally for Senator Udall
On Friday October 17th, the CU-Boulder College Democrats held a “get out the vote” rally at CU-Boulder for Senator Udall’s senatorial campaign. Also participating in the event were Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), Senator Warren (D-MA), Rep. Polis (D-CO), and Secretary of State candidate and CU Regent Joe Neguse. (Source: CU, Daily Camera)
October 1, 2014
NOAA Administrator Selects New Leader for Satellite and Information Service
NOAA has announced that Dr. Stephen Volz, a top official at NASA and an award-winning aerospace engineer, has been tapped to lead NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS). Volz replaces Mary E. Kicza, who retired earlier this year as the NESDIS assistant administrator. He will assume this new role on November 2. As assistant administrator, Volz will shepherd NOAA’s programs to build and launch the next generation of environmental satellites. In his current position at NASA, Volz manages all of the agency’s earth science flight missions and associated activities, including 17 satellites currently operating on orbit, 12 in formulation and development, and others in the early study and design stages. (Source: NOAA)
Secretary of ED Appoints New Deputy Assistant Secretary for International and Foreign Language Education
The Department of Education has appointed a new Deputy Assistant Secretary in the office of International and Foreign Language Education. Mohamed Abdel-Kader fills a position that has been vacant since Clay Pell departed to run for Governor of Rhode Island. Mr. Abdel-Kader came to OPE from Georgetown University where he was the Director of Development, School of Foreign Service & Middle East Region. Read more here. (Source: ED)
NSF Director Appoints New Head of CISE
National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Córdova announced the appointment of James F. Kurose, UMass Amherst Professor, to serve as Assistant Director for the agency’s Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE). CISE is the “home” for computing research at the agency, which supports over 80 percent of all university-based fundamental computer science research in the U.S. Kurose will take over the position in January 2015. Kurose is currently Distinguished Professor at UMass Amherst’s School of Computer Science, a position he’s held since 2004. (Source: NSF)
New Supplemental Awards Apply Sex and Gender Lens to NIH-funded Research
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has invested $10.1 million in supplemental funding to bolster the research of 82 grantees to explore the effects of sex in preclinical and clinical studies. This investment encourages researchers to study females and males, and is a catalyst for considering sex as a fundamental variable in research. The current overreliance on male subjects in preclinical research can obscure key findings related to sex that could guide later human studies. This progressive approach will result in greater awareness of the need to study both sexes, demonstrate how research can incorporate sex, and reinforce the value of taking it into account as these studies yield results. The projects span a wide array of science, including basic immunology, cardiovascular physiology, neural circuitry, and behavioral health. Read more here. (Source: NIH)
NSF And NIH Partner To Support Convergence-Based Cancer Research
A new public-private partnership between the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Cancer Institute (NCI), Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and The V Foundation for Cancer Research is committing $11.5 million towards transformational, theoretical biophysics that could have a significant impact on cancer research and treatment. SU2C is a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that raises money for innovative cancer research. In this partnership, NSF is contributing $5 million, NCI is contributing $2.75 million, and SU2C in collaboration with The V-Foundation for Cancer Research is contributing $4 million to fund an NSF Ideas Lab to generate research projects that will employ physics-based approaches to cancer. You can access the full news release including information about the NSF Ideas Lab workshops associated with this grant here. (Source: NSF, USA.GOV)
NPR Series: The Impact On Scientists Of Declining NIH Funding
National Public Radio (NPR) recently featured a series of stories on ramifications of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget decline. Two recent episodes detail the struggle of researchers to fund their labs, with some even leaving research altogether. Since 2004, the NIH budget has decreased by more than 20 percent. (That's not counting the two-year bump the budget got from stimulus funds via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.) Nationwide, about 16 percent of scientists with R01 grants in 2012 lost them the following year, according to an NPR analysis. That left about 3,500 scientists nationwide scrambling to find money to keep their labs alive. Nationwide, National Science Foundation data show that universities have expanded laboratory space by 50 percent in the past decade, expecting a funding boom that turned out to be a bust.
There are no national statistics about how many people are giving up on academic science, but an NPR analysis of NIH data found that 3,400 scientists lost their sustaining grants between 2012 and 2013. Some will eventually get new funding, others will retire; but others will just give up. The stories can be heard here. (Source: National Public Radio)
FASEB Launches New Website To Help Scientists Engage In Advocacy
A new website created by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) offers a one-stop-shop of resources designed to help individuals in the research community advocate for sustained, predictable funding for the federal science agencies. The FASEB website contains a comprehensive set of customizable tools, including:
• Step-by-step instructions for planning a meeting with a member of Congress
• Legislative visit best practices
• Links to factsheets highlighting NIH and NSF funding in each state and district
• Talking points and discussion guides
• Tips for attending town hall meetings
• Instructions on how to communicate with members of Congress on Twitter
You can find the website here. (Source: FASEB)
"Act for NIH" Launched
A new advocacy initiative launched last week, aimed at significantly increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). ACT for NIH: Accelerating Cures Today is led by Pat White, a former NIH Office of Legislative Policy and Analysis Director and Association of American Universities (AAU) staffer. It is funded by philanthropist Jed Manocherian. The new organization describes itself as "a national, non-partisan effort to seek an immediate, significant funding increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to enhance life-saving medical research for patients around the world." (Source: AAU)
New Executive Actions to Combat Antibiotic Resistance and Protect Public Health
On September 18th, the Obama administration announced a comprehensive set of new federal actions to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and protect public health. Additionally, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) is releasing a related report on Combating Antibiotic Resistance. The Administration is ramping up their efforts to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria through a series of new actions including:
- An Executive Order which establishes a new interagency Task Force and Federal Advisory Council and includes calls for better monitoring of resistant infections, improved regulations governing antibiotic use, more robust research to develop new and effective methods for combating antibiotic resistance, and increased international cooperation to curb the global rise in resistant bacteria.
- A National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, which articulates national goals, priorities, and specific objectives that provide an overarching framework for federal investments aimed at combating antibiotic resistance. These include: preventing the spread of resistant bacteria; strengthening national efforts to identify instances of antibiotic resistance; working to develop new antibiotics, therapies, and vaccines; and improving international collaboration on this issue.
- A new PCAST report entitled Combating Antibiotic Resistance, containing recommendations that were developed by PCAST in consultation with a diverse group of experts that span the human and veterinary sectors for actions that the federal government can take to strengthen the nation’s ability to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
- The launch of a $20 million prize sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and the Food and Drug Administration to facilitate the development of a rapid diagnostic test to be used by health care providers to identify highly resistant bacterial infections at the point of patient care.
A copy of the PCAST report can be accessed here. (Source: OSTP)
NIH Solicits Input on Data-Related Standards and the NIGMS Strategic Plan
The National Institute of Health (NIH) is requesting comments regarding information resources for data-related standards widely used in biomedical [behavioral and social] science research: Request for Information (RFI): Input on Information Resources for Data-Related Standards Widely Used in Biomedical Science. The NIH Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative is an effort by the agency to enable biomedical scientists to capitalize more fully on the "Big Data" being generated by research. The deadline for responding to the RFI is September 30th, 2014.
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) is engaged in a strategic planning process to guide its decision making for the next five years. To initiate the process, the Institute's staff developed a draft statement of broad goals and objectives and are seeking comments from the extramural community. Input may be provided using an online form which allows anonymity. You may also provide input via e-mail, which will allow more lengthy comments in an attachment. The deadline for responding is September 26. The RFI can be accessed here. The NIGMS draft statement can be found here. (Source: COSSA)
OSTP and NIH Release new Federal Policy on Dual Use Research in the Life Sciences
The White House released its long-anticipated final policy on institutional oversight of life sciences dual use research of concern. According to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP): "The Policy seeks to preserve the benefits of life sciences dual use research of concern (DURC) while minimizing the risk that the knowledge, information, products, or technologies generated from such research could be used in a manner that results in harm to public health and safety, agricultural crops and other plants, animals, the environment, materiel, or national security."
The final version of the policy has changed very little from the draft policy released in February 2013: it limits the scope of the policy to 15 agents or toxins and seven experiments of concern, and requires institutional oversight of DURC via an internal review and risk mitigation process. AAU and the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) submitted joint comments on the draft policy in April 2013.
The final document requires institutions to certify as of one year from today's announcement, September 24, 2015, that they are in compliance with the policy. According to the documents released by OSTP, the government is interested in receiving continual feedback on the effects of the policy, how it is being implemented, and whether the scope should be expanded or reduced. The institutional DURC policy and a series of background documents and tools developed to help institutions comply with the policy are available here on the government Safety, Science, Security (S3) website. The DURC policy and associated information can be found here. (Source: AAU)
Associations Comment On White House Innovation Strategy
A group of six higher education associations, including AAU, submitted comments to the White House on September 23 in response to its request for information on revising the Administration's Strategy for American Innovation. The request , which was issued in the July 29 edition of the Federal Register by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Economic Council, included 25 questions for possible response.
The six associations that submitted the comments were AAU, the American Council on Education, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Association of University Technology Managers, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the Council on Governmental Relations.
The associations' comments stressed:
- the need to invest adequately in basic scientific research;
- the threat posed by budget sequestration to U.S. innovation and concerns surrounding the nation's growing innovation deficit;
- the value of government programs that help to strengthen existing university-industry partnerships and generate new ones;
- the need for new government programs that support proof-of-concept research and otherwise help universities to commercialize new ideas and technologies generated by university faculty and students;
- challenges and opportunities facing universities related to intellectual property; and
- the need to streamline and simplify federal research regulations and reporting requirements as a means advance the U.S. innovation agenda.
Previously, five of the associations submitted comments in response to a similar request issued by the Department of Commerce in 2011. (Source: AAU)
USAID Feed The Future Program Authorizations Introduced
Legislation authorizing the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Feed the Future Program was introduced in both the House and Senate on September 18th. Lead sponsors in the House are Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Betty McCollum (D-MN); in the Senate, the leads are Robert Casey (D-PA), Mike Johanns (R-NE),Christopher Coons (D-DE), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA). Feed The Future is envisioned as a comprehensive strategic approach for United States foreign assistance to developing countries to end extreme global poverty and hunger and achieve food and nutrition security.
The Senate bill specifically supports the Feed the Future Innovation Labs which, according to USAID, draw on the expertise of top U.S. universities and developing country research institutions to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges in agriculture and food security. The bills are unlikely to receive further consideration this year, and would have to be reintroduced in the next Congress. (Source: APLU)
National Labs Need Flexibility to Plug into Regional Economies
Observing that legacy policies have hampered the contribution of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Laboratories to the modern innovation economy, Brookings Institution authors Scott Andes, Mark Muro and Matthew Stepp have outlined a plan to engage DOE labs with regional technology clusters. The authors recommend tasking the labs with an explicit regional economic development mission, as well as opening regionally oriented microlabs that would provide a front door for smaller businesses to access lab resources. In addition, Brookings advises DOE to provide greater flexibility and funding for regional initiatives through the national labs. (Source: Brookings)
CU at DC
LASP Personnel Visit Washington, DC to Advocate for TSIS
Professor Peter Pilewskie and Mr. Tom Sparn from CU-Boulder's LASP visited Washington, DC to meet with officials from NOAA, NASA, the Colorado Congressional delegation, and the House Appropriations Committee as part of their effort to secure funding for the Total Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS) in FY 2015. (Source: CU)
September 19, 2014
Both the House and Senate have adjourned so members of Congress can return home to campaign. They are scheduled to return to Washington on November 12th.
Senate Confirms Deputy Secretary of Energy
Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall to be the deputy Energy secretary on a voice vote. She'll be sworn-in once the current deputy secretary, Dan Poneman, departs this fall for Harvard after five years at the Energy Department. As Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz's No. 2, Sherwood-Randall would become chief operating officer of the agency, handling the day-to-day functioning of DOE. (Source: Politico)
Congress Approves “Stopgap” Funding Bill to Keep Government Open Until December
Before adjourning for campaign season, the House and Senate this week approved and sent to the President a FY15 Continuing Resolution (CR) that will keep the federal government open until December 11th. The bill will keep the government funded at FY14 levels, but includes an across-the-board cut of 0.0554% to discretionary spending programs.
The House backed the measure 319-108 on Wednesday, as leaders and rank-and-file members from both parties gave it a unified push to passage. The Senate cleared the measure 78-22, with 12 Republicans opposing the measure. While both Chambers have expressed support for an omnibus spending bill to be considered in December, the political landscape could shift quickly if Republicans win the Senate in the midterm elections. If that is the case, a CR could be extended until the New Year, when Republicans would seek a greater role in shaping the spending legislation.
The CR also includes an amendment authorizing the U.S. to train and equip vetted Syrian opposition to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Among other measures included in the CR is $88 million in funding to manage the Ebola outbreak. Of the $88 million in funding, $30 million will be provided to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to track the spread of the disease, and $58 million is provided to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority within HHS to accelerate the production of drugs to fight Ebola. (Source: CQ, APLU, CU)
House Democrats Introduce FY15 Labor-HHS-Education Bill
House Democrats on Monday released their version of an FY15 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, setting out their priorities for the measure, including added funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and for several student aid programs. Neither the House nor the Senate appropriations committee has marked up its FY15 Labor-HHS-Education bill; the House Democrats’ bill will likely not advance, given the lack of Republican support and the FY15 continuing resolution passed this week.
The Democrats’ measure would restore NIH funding to its pre-sequester level, providing the agency $30.63 billion, an increase of $778 million (2.6 percent) over FY14. The bill also would maintain the discretionary portion of the maximum Pell Grant to increase the maximum award to $5,830. It also would provide increased funding for the Federal Work-Study, GEAR UP, and TRIO programs. (Source: AAU)
White House Launches “It’s On Us” Campaign Against Sexual Assault
Today, to advance the Obama Administration’s goals of preventing sexual assault, the President and Vice President unveiled a new public awareness and education campaign: “It’s On Us.” The campaign seeks to engage college students and all members of campus communities in preventing sexual assault in the first place. The campaign is being launched in partnership with the Center for American Progress’ Generation Progress, along with student body leadership from nearly 200 colleges and universities across the country, collegiate sports organizations such as the NCAA and PAC-12, and private companies that have strong connections with students at colleges and universities. CU-Boulder is supportive of this campaign and will be enveloping its messages into broader efforts related to sexual assault.
This launch builds on previous Administration efforts related to sexual assault. In April 2011, Vice President Biden and the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, introduced comprehensive guidance to help colleges and universities nationwide better understand their obligations under federal civil rights laws to prevent and respond to sexual assault on campus. Building on those efforts, in January 2014, the President and Vice President established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The Task Force has since worked to assist schools in preventing sexual assault and to provide practical tools to help. (Source: White House, CU)
United for Medical Research Launches Project Highlighting NIH Impact by State
On September 9th, United for Medical Research (UMR), a coalition focused on National Institute of Health (NIH) funding, launched the UMR Virtual Map project, which includes a map of the U.S. highlighting the state-level impact of research funding provided by the NIH. The UMR Virtual Map project also provides downloadable state-focused PDFs and state-level data related to NIH funding, such as the number of jobs supported, the economic impact of investments, and more. This is a helpful resource when having conversations with members of your delegation about the importance of robust NIH funding. (Source: APLU)
House Passes Committee Bills to Improve Tsunami Warnings and Support Next Generation Computing
Last week, the House of Representatives passed two bipartisan Science, Space, and Technology Committee bills: the American Super Computing Leadership Act of 2014 (H.R. 2495), introduced by Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) and the Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act (H.R. 5309), introduced by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Susan Bonamici (D-Ore.). Both bills passed the House by voice vote.
The Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act reauthorizes an important program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and sharpens its focus on tsunami detection, forecasts and warnings.
The American Super Computing Leadership Act requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a plan to bring the United States into the next generation of super computing, also known as exascale computing. The Advanced Scientific Computing Research program at DOE is the primary federal research and development program for these computing technology breakthroughs. High performance computing has enabled researchers to push beyond our previously understood scientific boundaries. (Source: House Science Committee)
AAAS Releases Report On Value Of Research To The American Dream
On September 16th, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAA&S) released a new report entitled Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream. AAU President Hunter Rawlings, APLU President Peter McPherson, retired chairman and chief executive officer of the Lockheed Martin Corporation Norm Augustine, former Congressman Bart Gordon (D-TN), and Dr. Neal Lane participated in a press briefing surrounding the release. The report urges federal policymakers to provide long-term, sustainable funding increases for scientific and engineering research in order to maintain the nation’s technological and economic competitiveness. The AAA&S report further encourages a stronger research partnership among the federal government, universities and federal laboratories, and the private sector. (Source: AAU, CU)
House Approves Revitalize American Manufacturing And Innovation Act
On September 15th, the House approved by voice vote the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act (H.R. 2996). The legislation would establish a new network of regional public-private manufacturing institutes. The Senate companion measure (S. 1468) has been reported from the Senate Commerce Committee and is awaiting a full Senate vote. Both AAU and the APLU endorsed the legislation last February. (Source: APLU)
CNSF Statement Supports Senate America Competes Act Reauthorization Bill
The Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), a group in which CU-Boulder participates, issued a statement on September 16th that thanks Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, for introducing legislation to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act (S. 2757) which would providing funding for the NSF, NIST, the DOE Office of Science, and federal STEM programs.
The group, which focuses on policy and funding for the National Science Foundation, said, “CNSF is especially pleased with the proposed five-year budget growth for the National Science Foundation (NSF). This growth acknowledges the importance of NSF and its dedication to funding research and education across all fields of science, engineering, and mathematics and at all education levels.”
On September 14th, Senator Rockefeller penned an op-ed urging the Congress to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act. Despite this effort, it is unlikely that this bill will move in this Congress. (Source: CNSF, CU)
Associations Submit Comments To FCC On Net Neutrality
AAU, APLU, and 11 other higher education and library associations on September 15th submitted net neutrality reply comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Net neutrality refers to the non-discriminatory treatment of digital content flowing over the Internet.
The higher education groups that filed the comments with the FCC had previously developed a set of net neutrality principles which they believe should form the basis for new FCC regulations. Those principles were included with initial comments submitted to the FCC on July 18th. The groups argue that, although it is appropriate and accepted practice to pay higher rates for higher-capacity connections to the Internet, once connected, users should not be subject to paid prioritization, degrading, or blocking access to content.
In their reply comments, the groups further discuss the importance of an open Internet for education, research, and learning; the benefits of an “Internet reasonable standard” over a “commercially reasonable” standard in maintaining such openness; and the importance of maintaining the regulatory distinction between public and private networks such as campus and library networks that do not serve the general public.
The FCC has begun a series of roundtable sessions on this issue. A representative of the higher education and library community will participate in the final roundtable, on Internet Openness and the Law, which will be held October 7th. The roundtable is open to the public and will be webcast. The FCC is expected to issue final rules in December. (Source: AAU)
CU at DC
AMC’s Dr. Theodorescu highlights promise of personalized medicine to House Energy and Commerce Committee’s 21st Century Cures Initiative
In events in Denver and Washington, D.C., Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, has spoken about the promise of personalized medicine with lawmakers preparing to write legislation aimed at accelerating the pace at which research is translated into cures in the United States. The two roundtables were part of the “21st Century Cures Initiative”, hosted by Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The events were part of a series in which the legislators heard input from leaders from academia, industry and government about potential ways to improve the funding and regulation of the process of discovery, development and delivery of cutting edge medical care.
Panelists at the Washington, D.C. roundtable included Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Michael Milken, philanthropist and chairman of the Milken Institute, William Parfet, chairman and CEO of MPI Research, and Dean Kamen, founder of DEKA Research and Development. Dr. Theodorescu expanded on the importance of personalized medicine and making a connection between the patients’ needs and science. “Patients are the heart and soul of translational medicine.” He also suggested several ideas that would improve public and private partnerships and incentivize the search for biomarkers.
The week prior in Denver, Dr. Theodorescu joined a group of experts locally who helped advise Congresswoman DeGette on the initiative at a roundtable that included Dr. Eric Green, Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute and Dr. Janet Woodcock, Director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, and Dr. Frank Accurso, Director, Cystic Fibrosis Clinical Research, Children’s Hospital Colorado and professor of pediatrics, physiology and biophysics at CU. (Source: CU)
September 9, 2014
NSF Selects Biological Sciences Directorate Head
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has selected George Mason University's James L. Olds to serve as assistant director for the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO). Olds is a director and chief academic unit officer at the George Mason University Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, a position he has held for 15 years. He is also the Shelley Krasnow University Professor of Molecular Neuroscience. (Source: NSF)
President Obama Selects new Chief Technology Officer
The White House announced September 4th it has named its next Chief Technology Officer to be Megan Smith, a current Google executive with decades of experience in Silicon Valley. As U.S. CTO, Smith will guide the Administration’s information-technology policy and initiatives, continuing the work of her predecessors to accelerate attainment of the benefits of advanced information and communications technologies across every sector of the economy and aspect of human well-being. (Source: White House)
President Obama Nominates Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs at Department of State
President Obama has nominated Jennifer A. Haverkamp to serve as the next Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs at Department of State. Haverkamp is currently an independent consultant and a professorial lecturer in law at George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. Previously, she was Director of the International Climate Program at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). The OES bureau has taken on new importance with Secretary of State John Kerry's push to develop a global strategy on oceans and make climate change an international priority. (Source: White House; E&E)
Congress Expected To Approve A Short-Term FY 2015 Continuing Resolution
Congress returned to session yesterday following a five-week recess. The most important order of business during this work period will be approval of a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government when Fiscal Year 2015 begins on October 1st. A CR is needed because Congress has not enacted any of the 12 FY 2015 appropriations bills. The CR will likely run through December 11, 2014.
Although many Members may try to add special spending and authorization provisions to the CR, House Republican leaders are expected to try to keep the CR as free of amendments as possible, reports CQ.com. Along with sustaining federal program funding largely at FY 2014 levels, says the publication, leaders may use the CR as a vehicle for a short-term reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, as well as additional funding for wildfire prevention programs and possibly for military action against the Islamic State terrorist group. (Source: AAU, CU)
College Opportunity Summit to be Hosted by the White House on December 4th
The White House recently announced that it will host a second College Opportunity Summit on December 4, 2014. It is their hope to build on the work of the first summit, hosted last January, while launching some new initiatives. The summit will focus on building sustainable collaborations in communities with successful K-12 and higher education partnerships that encourage students to pursue higher education and supporting collaboration among colleges to improve college completion. To read the White House call to action fact sheet on college opportunity, click here or to read their new commitments to improve college opportunity, click here. (Source: APLU)
Higher Education Groups Weigh In On Proposed HEA Teacher Preparation Provisions
A task force of higher education associations, including AAU, APLU, and ACE, on August 29th submitted comments to Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, regarding the teacher preparation provisions of his draft Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization bill. The letter notes that while members of the task force share the Chairman’s goal of strengthening teacher preparation programs, they are concerned that some provisions reflect contradictory approaches and would not necessarily improve outcomes for teacher candidates.
The Task Force on Teacher Preparation is a group of 10 higher education associations that is convened by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; it represents the broad spectrum of teacher preparation providers around the country. (Source: AAU)
Faculty Survey Shows Researchers Still Spending Significant Time on Administration
Faculty researchers are spending an average of 42 percent of their research time on federal projects meeting administrative requirements rather than on active research, according to the latest faculty workload survey conducted by the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP). The report of the organization’s 2012 survey, released with preliminary results in April and in final form in early August, shows little change from the organization’s 2005 survey. Its results are closely aligned with those of the 2013 assessment conducted by the National Science Board, which the Board referenced in its March 2014 report, “Reducing Investigators’ Administrative Workload for Federally Funded Research.”
The FDP queried more than 13,000 principal investigators at universities and research centers around the country. Respondents reported that most of the time they spent on administrative work was taken up by proposal and report writing; dealing with project finances, personnel, and federally required effort reporting; and complying with requirements associated with human and animal research subjects.
The FDP is a cooperative initiative among 10 federal agencies and 119 institutions that receive federal research funds, sponsored by the National Academies’ Government, University, Industry Research Roundtable. The purpose of the FDP is to reduce the administrative burdens associated with federal research grants and contracts. (Source: AAU)
COFAR Releases Latest Guidance On New Circular On Federal Grant Awards
The White House Council on Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR) on August 29th released its second set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on implementation of the uniform administrative requirements, cost principles, and audit requirements for federal awards. The new FAQ document helps to resolve some of the research community’s outstanding concerns about the uniform guidance and its implementation, but some questions and concerns remain. (Source: AAU)
Department of Commerce Announces 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies Programs
The Department of Commerce 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program solicitation is now available online. The Economic Development Administration within the Department of Commerce is seeking applications for three grant programs: the i6 challenge, Science and Research Park Development Grants, and Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds. This is the first year funding has been available through the program, which seeks to help develop regional innovation ecosystems and provide support for commercialization. Up to $15 million in grant funding will be made available. Further information is available from the Department of Commerce announcement here or the State Science and Technology Institute (SSTI) announcement here. (Source: DoC)
September 2, 2014
Congress reconvenes in DC next week for a three-week work period before heading out of town again to campaign before the November elections. Meanwhile, it has been a busy Congressional recess in Colorado!
William Sabol Named Acting NIJ Director
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Acting Director Gregory K. Ridgeway left the agency on July 31st for the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Criminology. William Sabol, acting director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), was named this month to also serve as acting NIJ director until a permanent director is named by President Obama. (Source: COSSA)
PLUS Loan Proposed Rules Comment Period Active
The Department of Education has issued a proposed rule for its PLUS Loan program. PLUS loans are federal loans that graduate or professional degree students and parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay education expenses. There is a 30 day comment period on the proposed rule. PLUS loans were part of the recent Program Integrity Negotiated Rulemaking, which did reach consensus. (Source: APLU)
Higher Education Community Endorses Bill to Exempt Working Students from ACA
The Association of American Universities (AAU), the American Council of Education (ACE), the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) and several other higher education organizations have endorsed a bill recently introduced by Representatives Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Michael Turner (R-OH) that would exempt universities from having to offer employer-sponsored health care insurance plans to some students who work 30 or more hours a week as required by the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under the ACA, Federal Work-Study students who work 30 or more hours a week are not subject to the ACA’s employer mandate, but other students employed by higher education institutions who work 30 or more hours must be offered employer-sponsored health care plans.
In letters to the two Members of Congress, the associations make the case that including these students in the mandate would not likely increase the number of insured. The associations note that student employees “are not typically covered under an institution’s employee health insurance plan, so applying the employer mandate in this circumstance is unnecessary.” (Source: AAU)
Aid Administrators Back Federal Student Unit Record
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) announced August 6th that it now supports a “limited” student-unit record system because it would provide more accurate and comprehensive data than the government’s current collection of information, which leaves out transfer and nontraditional students, for example. “As higher education policy is increasingly focused on student success, completion, and outcomes, including the recent negotiations over gainful employment regulations, it becomes increasingly critical to have robust data that gives an accurate picture,” the group said in a report.
NASFAA is the latest organization to call for a repeal of the federal prohibition on a student unit record database. Last fall, two community college associations backed the proposal, and the APLU also supports such a database. Private colleges, though, have long been resistant to a student unit record database. They argue that storing student-level data in a single federal database would threaten student privacy.
Among the other recommendations for policy changes in the report released are eliminating student aid rules that have nothing to do with financial aid, such as the requirement that colleges celebrate Constitution Day, promote voter registration, and make certain disclosures about their athletic department. (Source: NASFAA)
AAU Issues Statement on Senate America Competes Bill
On August 4th, the Association of American Universities (AAU) issued a statement expressing support for the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2014, introduced on July 31st by a group of six Democratic Senators, led by Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). The measure has similarities to the COMPETES Acts of 2007 and 2010, and includes some of the key themes and principles found in the Guiding Principles for the America COMPETES Act Reauthorization, a document endorsed by more than 100 organizations in 2013.
Noting these parallels, the statement reads in part, “This legislation is very much in the spirit of the original COMPETES Act, which established a vision for revitalizing the nation’s research and innovation enterprise. If this bill were enacted and its recommendations for funding and policy adopted, it would be a major step forward in closing the nation’s innovation deficit.”
The new bill is a five-year reauthorization (FY15 through FY19) that includes funding authorizations for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, as well as policy provisions for NSF, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs. (Source: AAU)
Associations and Universities Express Concerns about Secret Science Reform Act
A group of 43 scientific and higher education associations and universities, led by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), have sent letters to the House Republican leadership and to leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee expressing concerns about the Secret Science Reform Act (H.R. 4012, S. 2613).
The Secret Science bill was approved by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on June 24, and then introduced in the Senate on July 16th by eight Republican Senators, including Senator David Vitter (R-LA), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
The letter, sent to the House leadership on July 31st and to Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Member Vitter on August 1st, details concerns about key terms in the bill, provisions regarding the replication of research results, and the imposition of added uncompensated costs on recipients of federal research grants. The organizations and universities encourage Congress to wait until federal agencies finalize new data access policies, as required by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, before moving ahead with new statutory requirements. Agencies are expected to complete this work by the end of this year. (Source: AAU)
Department of Energy Announces Public Access Requirements
On July 28th, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science announced new requirements for the management of digital research data. These new requirements are in accordance with a February 2013 Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) directive which requires all federal agencies with over $100 million in annual R&D expenditures to ensure that recipients of research grants and contracts develop Data Management Plans as part of their research proposals. The new requirements will appear in funding solicitations beginning on October 1, 2014. (Source: AAU)
On August 4th, the DOE also announced new measures to increase access to scholarly publications resulting from Department-funded research. DOE launched the Public Access Gateway for Energy and Science – PAGES – a web-based portal that will provide free public access to accepted peer-reviewed manuscripts or published scientific journal articles within 12 months of publication. As it grows in content, the DOE announcement said, PAGES will include access to DOE-funded authors’ accepted manuscripts hosted primarily by the Energy Department’s National Labs and grantee institutions, as well as public access offerings provided by publishers in coordination with DOE. For publisher-hosted content, the Department is collaborating with the publisher consortium CHORUS -- the Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States.
This action also responds to an OSTP directive on public access to the results of federally sponsored research that implements a provision of the 2010 COMPETES Act reauthorization. (Source: CU, AAU)
OSTP Releases Memo on Federal Biosafety Stand-Down
On August 28th, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a memorandum on the federal biosafety stand-down. The memo calls on research personnel to conduct a pathogen inventory and review biosafety procedures. Of note, however, is additional longer term efforts to improve biosafety and biosecurity, which involve federal and non-federal reviews of existing biosafety and biosecurity oversight policies and procedures. This would include outreach to stakeholders involved in Select Agent research.
How this review is different from recent reviews that have already taken place via the Federal Experts Security Advisory Panel, National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity, and the Select Agent program itself, is not clear, although included in the committee’s charge is “determining the appropriate number of high-containment U.S. laboratories required to possess, use, and/or transfer” Select Agents. Recommendations from these groups are expected over the next 3-6 months, but it is not clear if they will be made public. Read more from Science here. (Source: AAU)
CU at DC
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Polis Hold Roundtable at CU-Boulder
On August 22nd, Chancellor Phil DiStefano hosted Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Jared Polis at CU-Boulder for a roundtable on student debt and the value of higher education. The round table also included CSU President Tony Frank, Jennifer Sobanet of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, Vice Chancellors Frances Draper and Deb Coffin, Senator Rollie Heath and several CU-Boulder and CSU students. The group discussed student debt, the federal budget, and the value of a degree. You can read more about the event here. (Source: CU, Daily Camera)
Senator Udall Staffers Visit CU-Boulder
On August 12th, Senator Mark Udall’s DC-based health and education staffer, Jacqueline Thomas, visited CU-Boulder. While on campus, Jacqueline met with Gwen Pomper, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Enrollment and Director of Financial Aid. She also met with Dr. Leslie Leinwand of the BioFrontiers Institute. Finally, Jacqueline met with Noah Finkelstein, Director of the CU Center for STEM Learning and Dean of Education Lorrie Shepard.
On August 13th, Senator Udall’s DC-based science/women's issue staffer Leslie Hylton met with faculty to discuss Title IX Policies and Procedures. While on campus, Leslie met with Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Deb Coffin; Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students Christina Gonzales; Jessica Ladd-Webert, Director of the Office of Victim Assistance; Valerie Simons, Campus Title IX Coordinator; Boulder Campus Police Chief Melissa Zak, and Teresa Wroe, Program Development-Community Health. (Source: CU)
Senator Bennet Staffer Discusses Title IX Issues at CU-Boulder
On August 27th, Juliana Herman, Senator Bennet's DC-based education staffer, visited the CU-Boulder campus to discuss topics related to Title IX. During her visit, she attended a roundtable with members of the CU-Boulder Student Government, including Chelsea Canada, and Amanda Lisenmyer, Director of the Women’s Resource Center. She also attended a policy discussion with Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Deb Coffin; Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students Christina Gonzales; Jessica Ladd-Webert, Director of the Office of Victim Assistance; and Valerie Simons, Campus Title IX Coordinator. Finally, Juliana met with Dean of Education Lorrie Shepard. (Source: CU)
OMB Examiner Tours CU-Boulder
On August 27th, Michael Clark, the NOAA/NIST/NASA Program Manager at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) toured the CU-Boulder campus. In his role as Program Manager, Mike oversees key decisions related to federal funding at these agencies. During his visit, Mike received an overview and tour of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) by Dan Baker, Tom Sparn, Peter Pilewskie, and Tom Woods. Dr. Tom O’Brian, Beth Kroger, Dr. Debbie Jin, Dr. Jun Ye, and Dr. David Nesbitt also provided Mike with an overview of JILA. The tour ended at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), with Waleed Abdalati and Kristen Averyt presenting an overview of the institute and its research. (Source: CU)