Trump Administration Guidance Touts R&D Priorities

Jerry Ashworth
September 4, 2019 at 13:22:25 ET
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The Trump Administration has set its sights on the future of research and development (R&D) activities. Last week, the Office of Management and Budget and Office of Science and Technology Policy jointly issued Memorandum M-19-25, FY 2021 Administration Research and Development Budget Priorities, which provides a roadmap for federal agencies in determining where to focus their R&D energies and funding.

The guidance sets out five R&D budgetary priorities for federal fiscal year (FY) 2021 designed to “ensure that America remains at the forefront of scientific progress, national and economic security, and personal well-being, while continuing to serve as the standard-bearer for today's emerging technologies and Industries of the future.” It also includes five high-priority crosscutting actions that span all five R&D budgetary priorities and require federal agencies to “coordinate, collaborate and partner with one another and with the other sectors of the science and technology enterprise to maximize success.”

The budgetary priorities seek to promote American progress and proficiency in the areas of security, leadership in industries of the future, energy and environmental leadership, health and bioeconomic innovation, and space exploration and commercialization. Under energy, for example, the guidance states that federal agencies should invest in early-stage, innovative research and technologies that show promise for harnessing American energy resources safely and efficiently, inclusive of nuclear, renewable and fossil energy. Further, federally funded energy R&D “should continue to reflect an increased reliance on the private sector to fund later-stage research, development and commercialization of energy production and storage technologies, including supporting user facilities that can improve multisector collaboration.”

Also of interest to grant applicants and recipients, the crosscutting actions within the guidance state that significant attention is needed to address four high-priority areas related to research environments:

  • reducing administrative burdens on federally funded research, as emphasized in the Cross-Agency (CAP) Goal #8 (“Results-Oriented Accountability for Grants”) under the President’s Management Agenda;
  • improving rigor and integrity in research;
  • creating safe and inclusive research environments; and
  • protecting American research assets.

“Departments and agencies should ensure that their R&D investments promote intra- and extra-mural research environments that address these four actions and rapidly improve or eliminate programs and activities that do not; and actively coordinate and collaborate with other R&D departments and agencies,” the guidance explains.

President's Management Agenda CAP Goal 2, "Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset," seeks to promote a long-term, enterprise-wide Federal Data Strategy to better govern and leverage the federal government's data; enable government data to be accessible and useful for the American public, businesses and researchers; and improve the use of data for decisionmaking and accountability for the U.S. government, including for policymaking, innovation, oversight and learning. Under the R&D guidance, federal agencies should coordinate and collaborate with each other and with the private sector and nonprofits to leverage data and data tools, consistent with all applicable laws and regulations governing data use and sharing.

Thompson will cover this guidance in more depth in a news article that will be posted next week. It will be interesting to see how this affects R&D concerns nationwide and future funding appropriations.