DC Brief: Office Of Federal Relations

AAU Submits Comments to Senate on Possible America Competes Legislation

The Association of American Universities (AAU) on Aug. 18 submitted a comment letter to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act.  

The letter responds to an invitation for recommendations from stakeholders issued by Senators Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Gary Peters, D-Mich., who are leading the committee's effort to develop reauthorization legislation.

The AAU letter recommends that Congress reauthorize the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology for five years, at an annual growth rate of four percent. The letter also encourages the committee to take legislative action to reduce unnecessary or duplicative federal regulations and reporting requirements. It cites some of the detailed recommendations for reducing regulatory burden contained in the 2014 National Science Board report “Reducing Investigators’ Administrative Workload for Federally Funded Research.” The AAU letter also contains recommendations in a number of other areas, including STEM education and commercialization of research.

Earlier this summer, the senators hosted two roundtable discussions on maximizing basic research and improving STEM education. AAU President Hunter Rawlings participated in the discussion on STEM education and noted the role that the AAU STEM Education Initiative is playing in improving teaching of undergraduates in STEM disciplines. A third roundtable discussion on the commercialization of research might occur in September 2015. (Association of American Universities - Aug. 19, 2015)

White House Looking for Help on Personalized Medicine Technology

[The Obama] administration is collecting suggestions from the general public about improving personalized medicine. In a new blog post, White House chief data officer DJ Patil and [Personalized Medicine Initiative (PMI)] project manager Stephanie Devaney said they wanted ideas about topics including: how to include underserved populations in precision medicine research; developing new [application programming interfaces] in electronic health record systems to help patients access their clinical data and then donate it for research; improving information sharing between organizations; data storage technology; [and] using open competitions and technology challenges to generate more new ideas. The PMI team is collecting feedback until Sep. 21. (Nextgov - Aug. 24, 2015)

President Obama Announces More Than a Billion Dollars in Energy Department Initiatives to Advance Innovative Clean Energy Technologies

President Obama today announced more than one billion dollars in Department of Energy (DOE) initiatives to drive innovation and accelerate the clean energy economy. [T]hrough the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, DOE is awarding $24 million in funding for 11 high-performance solar power projects that could lower the cost and improve the performance of solar photovoltaic power systems. (U.S. Department of Energy - Aug. 24, 2015)

In the NSF's Priciest Grant-Fraud Settlement, Northeastern U. Will Pay $2.7 Million

Northeastern University has agreed to pay $2.7 million to cover nine years of mishandling federal research funds, in the largest-ever civil settlement with the National Science Foundation (NSF). The case stems from the management of NSF grant money awarded to Northeastern for work at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, from 2001 to 2010. (Chronicle of Higher Education - Aug. 21, 2015)

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