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Statement from White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier

Press release from The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

February 27, 2020

Opening Statement of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier on President Donald J. Trump’s FY 2021 Budget Proposal

Today, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier delivered the following remarks at the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology hearing, A Review of the Administration’s Federal Research and Development Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2021.

As prepared for delivery:

Good morning Chairwoman Johnson, Ranking Member Lucas, and Members of the Committee. It is my great privilege to be here with you today to discuss the President’s Budget for science and technology research and development in Fiscal Year 2021.

In this month’s State of the Union Address, President Trump declared: We are pioneers who look at tomorrow and see unlimited frontiers just waiting to be explored. This reminded me of the words written by Vannevar Bush, who was President Roosevelt’s de-facto science advisor.

In 1945, Dr. Bush wrote, and I quote: “The pioneer spirit is still vigorous within this nation. Science offers a largely unexplored hinterland for the pioneer who has the tools for the task. The rewards of such exploration both for the Nation and the individual are great.”

These words ushered in the modern research enterprise, and now, seventy five years later, America is the unquestioned global leader in S&T. The Federal government, private sector, academia, and nonprofits are all working together to leverage massive R&D investments—$580 billion in 2018—and capitalize on talent from every zip code across America, and from every country around the globe, to build the greatest discovery and innovation engine in the history of the world. And as Dr. Bush predicted, the rewards have indeed been great.

Although America is the global S&T leader, continued leadership is not at all guaranteed. In fact, as the Coronavirus threat illustrates, the importance of American S&T leadership will only grow more pronounced in the decades ahead. The FY 2021 Budget demonstrates the Trump Administration’s commitment to American S&T leadership by investing $142.2 billion in Federal R&D. This represents a significant 6 percent increase compared to the President’s FY 2020 Budget.

The President’s budget prioritizes the critical Industries of the Future, which are: artificial intelligence, quantum information science, 5G and advanced communications, biotechnology, and advanced manufacturing. These industries promise to open new frontiers in sensing and computation, to advance medical diagnostics, to create high-paying jobs, and to transform the way Americans communicate, travel, and stay secure.

AI and quantum, in particular, hold enormous potential as they intersect with every field of S&T. The Budget includes major increases in quantum and non-defense AI R&D as part of the President’s commitment to double Federal investment in these areas by 2022. The Budget also includes investments that will equip more Americans with the skills necessary to support and advance AI and quantum as well as the tens of millions of other jobs that require STEM knowhow.
Beyond these investments, the Budget focuses on achieving sustainable deep space exploration, beginning with returning to the moon as a Launchpad for a mission to Mars.

Research and partnerships in ocean S&T remain an Administration priority, and the Budget advances systematic ocean mapping and research so that our Nation can better understand and utilize our vast ocean resources.

The Administration also recognizes – and I want to underscore this point – that leadership requires not only strategic R&D investments, but also research environments that reflect American values.
To that end, nearly ten months ago, I launched the NSTC Joint Committee on the Research Environment, or JCORE. JCORE is taking a whole-of-nation approach to develop policy recommendations, and other suggested actions, on four interrelated topics:

* First, Strengthening the security of American research enterprise;
* Second, Creating safe and inclusive research environments;
* Third, Reducing administrative workload on Federally-funded researchers; and finally
* Improving rigor, integrity, and reproducibility in research.

I want to specifically mention our research security efforts as I know this topic is of particular interest to you. The JCORE Subcommittee on Research Security is engaging every sector of our scientific community to protect our research enterprise while preserving the openness it needs to thrive.

I have personally met with institutional leaders, faculty, and students by visiting several universities across the country to discuss these issues, and I also have met with allies abroad who are responding to similar challenges. We are also working closely with your colleagues in Congress, which has shown strong, bipartisan support. I want to especially thank you, Chairwoman Johnson and Ranking Member Lucas, for engaging with OSTP on this critical topic.

In conclusion, the Nation’s R&D investments, strategies, and policies must reflect and address the urgent opportunities and challenges confronting us and make use of every asset at our disposal. Federal investment is only one part of a much larger enterprise that unites, inspires, and rallies people and organizations from every sector to a common cause—to improve the health, security, and prosperity of our great Nation. There are indeed “unlimited frontiers waiting to be explored” and the President’s Budget, in concert with the other actions I have summarized, ensures that America will continue to lead the way.

Thank you very much, and I look forward to your questions.

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