White House Issues FY2012 Science and Technology Priorities Memo

Although it will be many months until the last of the FY 2011 appropriations bills are enacted, the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy are looking ahead to the FY 2012 budget request President Obama will send Congress next February.


Peter R. Orszag, Director, Office of Management and Budget
OSTPJohn P. Holdren, Director, Office of Science Technology Policy

SUBJECT: Science and Technology Priorities for the FY 2012 Budget

Scientific discovery, technological breakthroughs, and innovation are major engines for expanding the frontiers of human knowledge and are indispensable for promoting sustainable economic growth, improving the health of the population, moving toward a clean energy future, addressing global climate change challenges, managing competing demands on the environment, and safeguarding our national security.

This memorandum follows up on OMB Memorandum M-10-19 by outlining the Administration’s science and technology (S&T) priorities for formulating FY 2012 Budget submissions to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). These priorities for research and development (R&D) investments and other S&T investments build on priorities already reflected in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the FY 2010 and 2011 Budgets, and key Administration policy guidance such as the President’s Strategy for American Innovation. This memorandum also provides program guidance for S&T activities in Executive Departments and Agencies.

Prioritizing Key S&T Activities
Agencies should explain in their budget submissions how they will redirect available resources, as appropriate, and consistent with their mission, from lower-priority areas to S&T activities that address six challenges and strengthen six cross-cutting areas (outlined in Attachment A) that underlie success in addressing all of these challenges. Agencies should describe expected outcomes from these S&T investments, providing quantitative metrics where possible.

Program Guidance
The President has a long-term goal that the R&D investment (both private and Federal) in the United States should reach three percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In order to understand the status of the Federal share of this goal, agencies are expected to work in close collaboration with OMB and OSTP to accurately classify and report R&D investment activities.

Agencies should pursue transformational solutions to the Nation’s practical challenges, and budget submissions should therefore explain how agencies will support long-term, visionary thinkers proposing high-risk, high-return (or “potentially transformative”) research. Some of this research should be motivated by the “grand challenges” of the 21st century, such as those identified by the President’s Strategy for American Innovation and the National Academy of Engineering.

Agencies should encourage and rigorously evaluate new approaches to supporting multidisciplinary research, such as the convergence of bio-, info-, and nanotechnologies; and new approaches for accelerating technology commercialization and innovation, including incentive prizes, university-industry partnerships, proof-of-concept centers, and regional innovation clusters.

Interagency and international collaborations on large-scale S&T projects can benefit partnering organizations, but too often agencies enter such partnerships only because each individual agency cannot accommodate funds within its own budget request, leading to management challenges. In requesting funds for large-scale S&T projects involving significant interagency or international collaboration, agencies should identify: the lead organization for the collaboration; the unique capabilities brought to the collaboration by each partnering organization; and specific roles and responsibilities for each organization. Agencies should coordinate with partner Federal agencies to formulate budget requests for interagency collaborations.

Agencies, in cooperation with OSTP and OMB, should develop and sustain datasets to better document Federal science, technology, and innovation investments and to make these data open to the public in accessible, useful formats. Agencies should develop and regularly update their data sharing policies for research performers and create incentives for sharing data publicly in interoperable formats to ensure maximum value, consistent with privacy, national security, and confidentiality concerns.

Agencies should develop outcome-oriented goals for their science, technology, and innovation activities, establish timelines for evaluating the performance of these activities, and target investments toward high-performing programs in their budget submissions. Agencies should support the development and use of “science of science policy” tools that can improve management of their R&D portfolios and better assess the impact of their science, technology, and innovation investments.

Agencies should implement strategies for increasing the benefits for science and society derived from scientific collections by following the recommendations in the report by the Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections and efforts outlined in the National R&D Strategy for Microbial Forensics.

Finally, agencies are expected to conduct programs in accordance with the highest standards of ethical and scientific integrity and to have clear principles, guidelines, and policies on issues such as scientific openness, scientific misconduct, conflicts of interest, protection of privacy, and the appropriate treatment of human subjects.

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Source: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News
Photo: Office of Management and Budget | Office of Science and Technology Policy