(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology approved an Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to HR 5116, America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 by a vote of 29 to 8.
“If we are to reverse the trend of the last twenty years, where our country’s technology edge in the world has diminished, we must make the investments necessary today,” said Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). “The statistics speak for them themselves. More than half of our economic growth since World War II can be directly attributed to development and adoption of new technologies. The path is simple. Research and education lead to innovation. Innovation leads to economic development and good paying jobs.”
The bill makes investments in science, innovation, and education to strengthen the U.S. scientific and economic leadership, support employers, and create jobs in the short-, mid-, and long-term.
In the short-term, programs like Innovative Technology Federal Loan Guarantees address the immediate need of small- and medium-sized manufacturers to access capital to make necessary updates to become more efficient and stay competitive. In the mid-term, programs like Regional Innovation Clusters will strengthen regional economies and advance the work done in a given field by leveraging collaboration and communication between businesses and other entities. To ensure scientific and technological leadership over the long-term, the bill makes investments in basic research through reauthorization of the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science and the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
The bill also includes reauthorization of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy to pursue high-risk, high-reward energy technology development, and authorization of Energy Innovation Hubs to help advance the U.S.’s transition to a clean energy economy, and support the growth of new sectors of the economy and the jobs that come with them.
Over 140 organizations have endorsed the legislation including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable, the Council on Competitiveness, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the National Venture Capital Association, TechAmerica, and the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
The Committee approved a Manager’s Amendment that, in addition to technical and minor changes, lowered the authorization levels in the base text by just over 10 percent. The legislation still maintains a path toward doubling; the modified text will double authorized funding over ten years based on the 2007 appropriated funding levels.
“This funding trajectory is not as steep as the bill enacted in 2007 and it is not as shallow as the president’s budget request,” said Gordon. “The funding path provides a modest cushion above the president’s request in the event our deficits come down and more funds are available. At the same time, we provide a stable, sustainable, and achievable set of authorization levels across the agencies in the bill. These levels are lower than I would like them, but I believe they are practical considering our current budget deficits. At a time of flat discretionary budgets, a seven percent annual growth rate allows for continued progress in getting our research programs back on a path to be the best in the world.”
The bill is broken into six titles by subject.
The first title addresses science and technology policy that reaches across multiple agencies. It includes legislative language that passed the house as H.R. 554, the National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act, and H.R. 2020, the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act. The title includes a section directing the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to work with agencies to develop a consistent policy regarding the management of scientific collections. The bill coordinates federal programs and activities in manufacturing research and development. The bill also establishes a working group to coordinate federal science agency research and policies related to the dissemination and stewardship of the results of federally supported research.
The second title in the legislation is largely based on the Committee Print that was approved by the Research and Science Education Subcommittee and reauthorizes the National Science Foundation (NSF). The bill keeps NSF on a doubling path. It aims to: help scientists and engineers funded by NSF to serve as more effective leaders and participants in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education; broaden participation in STEM at all levels; and ensure U.S. competitiveness and national security through technology transfer and commercialization.
The reauthorization directs NSF to spend at least five percent of its research budget to fund high-risk, high-reward basic research proposals. The bill also includes a provision for NSF to award grants for fundamental research leading to transformative advances in manufacturing that will improve performance, productivity and competitiveness for U.S. manufacturers.
The third title addresses STEM education across the federal government. It includes legislative language that passed the House as H.R. 1709, the STEM Education Coordination Act, which will coordinate STEM education activities carried out across the federal government. The title also would require the White House to create an advisory committee on STEM education responsible for soliciting input from a variety of stakeholder groups in order to offer guidance to the president on how to better align federal programs with the needs of states and school districts, and to improve connectivity between public and private STEM education efforts.
Finally, the title clarifies the role of the DOE in contributing to STEM education, including energy systems science and engineering education, at all levels.
The fourth title in the legislation is largely based on the Committee Print reauthorizing the National Institute of Standards and Technology that passed the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation. The bill reorganizes the NIST labs to better reflect the multidisciplinary nature of technology in the 21st century. The legislation maintains the commitment to doubling the funds provided to NIST labs and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program. It also includes authorization that will enable the Technology Innovation Program to fund new awards for high-risk, high-reward research in areas of critical need.
The fifth title establishes programs to help support innovation broadly. It establishes an Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Department of Commerce to foster innovation and the commercialization of new technologies, products, processes, and services. It also creates federal loan guarantees to help small- and medium-sized manufacturers access capital to invest in innovative technologies that will help them become more efficient and competitive.
The bill will also establish the creation of regional innovation clusters, which are regional collections of businesses and organization in the same field with open channels of communication between them. In addition to grants to help support the creation of clusters, the Department of Commerce will conduct research on best practices and metrics to measure success of the program.
The sixth title is largely based on language the was approved by the Energy and Environment Subcommittee. It reauthorizes programs at the DOE, including the Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the U.S., and the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, which is pursuing the development of transformational energy technologies using the research model that led to innovations for the Department of Defense with DARPA.
The bill also authorizes the creation of Energy Innovation Hubs, which aremultidisciplinary collaborations that support research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of advanced energy technologies, with the activities of each Hub centralized at one location where possible. Each Hub will have a single technological focus that currently presents a critical barrier to achieving national energy innovation goals.
The Committee also approved amendments from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), Energy and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Inglis (R-SC), Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), Research and Science Education Subcommittee Ranking Member Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Rep. Charles Wilson (D-OH), Technology and Innovation Subcommittee Chairman David Wu (D-OR), Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), Technology and Innovation Subcommittee Vice Chairman Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Committee Ranking Republican Member Ralph Hall (R-TX), Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA), Research and Science Education Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE), and Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI).
For more information on the Committee’s work on COMPETES, please visit our website.