DC Perspective

T2 Touchpoint — December 18, 2017

Published biweekly as part of FLC’s DC Perspective content, the T2 Touchpoint gathers updates from inside and around the technology transfer (T2) community. The news is collected from agency publications, news sites, and DC-central organizations, with original sources, contacts, and links provided in addition to our streamlined synopses. For more information and Touchpoint-related inquiries, please contact dcnews@federallabs.org.

Budget Bulletin

New R&D Expenditure Data for 2016 Could Spell Upward Spike in Scientific Expansion

Data released by the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) confirmed that research and development (R&D) spending had increased $25 billion in 2016. In 2015, total R&D funding was $495 billion, a $20 billion increase from the previous year. With respect to federal spending, 2016 saw a $2 billion increase, a trend on the rise since 2014. State spending, reported separately, saw a 3.1% increase in 2016. (For comparison purposes, total R&D spending in 2009 was capped at $403 billion due to the national recession.)

Policy Pulse

Net Neutrality Faces Reversal After FCC Vote

After a 3-2 vote last Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to overturn net neutrality, a policy governing U.S. internet access (known legislatively as the Open Internet Order) since 2015. The proposed replacement—titled the Restoring Internet Freedom Act—reclassifies the internet as an “information service” under Title I of the Communications Act. According to the FCC’s official news release following the decision, the internet was classified as a Title II “common carrier” service in 2010. Due to removing government regulation, service providers invested less in network infrastructure and lowered innovation, particularly in rural populations. This new Act seeks to reverse those roadblocks and reduce the digital divide—where the Internet remains accessible to all. According to the American Enterprise Institute, the Act must be finalized and its text submitted to Congress and the Government Accountability Office (GAO). More on this as it develops.

Introducing the Modernizing Government Technology Act

Last Tuesday, President Trump signed the Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGTA) into law. This Act is an addition to the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act. The MGTA appropriates a $500 million fund for agencies to develop and initiate IT modernization projects. Although initially proposed by Republican representative Will Hurd in 2016, the now-active Act has gained bipartisan support. As Nextgov reports, both civilian and defense agencies have needed funds obligated for systems modernizations long before Hurd brought this policy measure to DC. The MGTA is supplemented by the 2017 Report to the President on Federal IT Modernization, which summarizes this policy initiative, and ensures agency investments into technological advancement spearheads future-proof American innovation.

Agency Activities

NSF Welcomes James Ulvestad as Chief Officer for Research Facilities (CORF)

In a first for the National Science Foundation, James S. Ulvestad will be the inaugural Chief Officer for Research Facilities (CORF). In an announcement published last week, the CORF position was initiated to oversee the major and mid-scale research facilities recognized under the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA), enacted this year. These facilities are vital to continued innovation in the federal science and engineering sector, and were heralded by NSF as one of its “10 Big Ideas for Future NSF Investments.” Mr. Ulvestad assumes his new position — which follows past roles at the NSF’s Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) —on January 2, 2018.

Recap on the DOE’s Bridges for Innovation Summit Series

The Department of Energy (DOE)’s Energy Investor Center (EIC) hosted its latest global roundtable, “Bridges for Innovation Summit Series” this past November. As reported in a Department news post, DOE Secretary Rick Perry stressed the importance of partnerships between the public and private sectors, and how these relationships foster innovation, alongside national laboratory initiatives. These initiatives proved crucial during the relief efforts after the effects of Hurricane Harvey. Summit panelists, such as BP Global Head of Upstream Technology Ahmad Hashmi, presented innovation as not only vital to the American environmental landscape but also as integral to economic growth and expansion.

The summit preceded the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in India, also held in November. You can read more about GES’ related “Four Innovative Industries” panel here.

DC Perspective