H.R. 5116: America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010

H.R. 5116

America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010

Date
May 13, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

H.R. 5116 is expected to be considered on the floor on Wednesday, May 12, 2010, under a structured rule making 54 amendments in order. The rule allows for the amendments to be considered en bloc.  Amendments made en bloc will be considered for 40 minutes.  A summary of amendments made in order under the rule will be distributed when made available.  This legislation was introduced by Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) on April 22, 2010.  The Committee on Science and Technology reported the bill on April 29, 2010 by a vote of 29-8.

Bill Summary

H.R. 5116, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, would provide a five year authorization of funding at $86 billion for the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy's Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to provide for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) educational programs.  The legislation shifts policy priorities enacted in the 2007 bill to focus more on technology commercialization and research and development relating to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

Title I: Science and Technology Policy

H.R. 5116 requires the National Nanotechnology Initiative to update a strategic plan to guide the results of their work out of the laboratory and into applications that benefits society, to set forth how the program will encourage and support interdisciplinary research and development in nanotechnology, and to propose research in areas of national importance.

The Nanotechnology Initiative Program shall support efforts to introduce nanoscale science, engineering, and technology into undergraduate science and engineering education; including providing access to facilities to companies for the purpose of assisting in development of prototypes of nanoscale products, devices, or processes.

H.R. 5116 requests the Interdisciplinary Research Centers to focus on nanomanufacturing research and to include as part the activities of the center, research on methods and approaches to develop environmentally benign nanoscale products and nanoscale manufacturing processes.

The bill requires the Program to develop a strategic plan to specify near-term and long-term objectives for the program, and a time frame for achieving those objectives; and to transfer the research and development results into new technologies and applications for the benefit of society.

The bill directs the Director of the National Coordination Office to convene a task force to explore mechanisms for carrying out collaborative research and development activities for cyber-physical systems, through a consortium of appropriate entities with participants from institutions of higher education, federal laboratories, and industry.

H.R. 5116 also directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to ensure the development of formal policies for the management and use of federal scientific collections to improve the quality, organization, access, including online access, and long-term preservation of such collections for the benefit of scientific enterprise.

The bill requires the Director of Science and Technology Policy to establish a working group under the National Science and Technology Council with the responsibility to coordinate federal science agency research and policies related to the dissemination and long-term stewardship of the results of unclassified research, including digital data and peer-reviewed scholarly publications, funded from the federal science agencies.

Title II: National Science Foundation

H.R. 5116 authorizes appropriations for the National Science Foundation for FY2011-FY2015, at the following amounts:

  • FY2011:  $7,481,000,000;
  • FY2012:  $8,127,000,000;
  • FY2013:  $8,764,000,000;
  • FY2014:  $9,436,000,000;
  • FY2015:  $10,161,000,000

H.R. 5116 requires the Foundation to apply a broader impacts review criterion to achieve goals such as:

  • increase economic competitiveness of the U.S.;
  • development of a globally competitive STEM workforce;
  • increase participation of women and under-represented minorities in STEM;
  • increase partnerships between academia and industry;
  • improve pre-k-12 STEM education and teacher development;
  • improve undergraduate STEM education;
  • increase public scientific literacy;
  • and increased national security.

The bill would require the NSF to use at least five percent of its research budget to fund high-risk, high-reward basic research proposals.  Support for facilities and infrastructure, including operation and maintenance of facilities, shall not be counted as part of the research budget for this purpose.

The bill would require the NSF to award grants in amounts not to exceed $5 million over a period of up to five years to interdisciplinary research collaborations that are likely to assist in addressing critical challenges to national security, competitiveness, and societal well-being.

This measure creates a pilot program to award innovation inducement cash prizes in any area of research supported by the National Science Foundation. The types of contests to be considered shall be contests in which the award is to the first team or individual who accomplishes a stated objective; and in which the winner is the team or individual who comes closest to achieving an objective within a specified time. The NSF shall consult widely within and outside the federal government; and give priority to high-risk, high-reward research challenges.

The prizes under this pilot program shall consist of federal appropriated funds and any funds raised through donations authorized by the Foundation.  The NSF may announce up to five prize competitions through the end of fiscal year 2013; the Director may determine the amount of each prize award based on prize topic, but no award shall be less than $1 million or greater than $3 million.  The bill authorizes to be appropriated for these competitions $12 million for fiscal years 2011 through 2013.

The NSF may convene an expert panel to select a winner of the prize competition.  If the panel is unable to select a winner, the Director of the National Science Foundation shall determine the winner of the prize.

The bill reduces the 50 percent non-federal match in cash or in-kind to a 30 percent in cash match for the Robert Noyce Scholarship program.  The program awards grants to institutions of higher education to provide scholarships and stipends to recruit math and science teachers.

The measure requests that institutions of higher education chartered to serve large numbers of students with disabilities shall have a designation consistent with those of other institutions that serve populations underrepresented in STEM, to ensure that institutions that serve persons with disabilities can benefit from STEM bridge programs.

H.R. 5116 directs the NSF and the Secretary of Education to collaborate in regard to identifying, prioritizing, and developing strategies to address grand challenges in research and development on the teaching and learning of STEM at the pre-k-12 level.

Title III: STEM Education

H.R. 5116 would require the Director of the Office of Science and Technology to establish a committee under the National Science and Technology Council with the responsibility to coordinate federal programs and activities in support of STEM education, including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Education, and all other federal agencies that have programs in support of STEM education.

The bill requests the president to establish or designate an advisory committee on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.  The advisory committee established by the president shall be chaired by at least 2 members of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, with the remaining members consisting of non-federal members who are qualified to provide the president with advice and information regarding STEM education.

The bill would allow the Secretary of Energy to appoint or designate a Director of STEM education, a position intended to oversee all programs and activities in the Department in support of STEM education, including energy systems and engineering education.

H.R. 5116 would authorize green energy education, providing higher education with curriculum in support of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application activities related to advanced energy research of high performance buildings and architecture.

Title IV: National Institute of Standards and Technology

H.R. 5116 provides the National Institute of Standards and Technology with authorization of appropriations, FY2011-FY2015, of the following amounts:

  • FY2011:  $991,100,000;
  • FY2012:  $992,400,000;
  • FY2013:  $1,079,809,000;
  • FY2014:  $1,126,227,000;
  • FY2015:  $1,191,955,000

The bill creates an Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology, appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, who would serve as the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The bill requests the Director to reorganize the scientific and technical research and services laboratory program into six units, from the current ten.  However, the reorganization of the NIST laboratory is already in the process; Congressional approval is not necessary in regard to reorganization. 

The bill would assign the National Institute of Standards and Technology to promote collaboration among federal departments, agencies, and private sector stake-holders in the development and implementation of international technical standards.

The measure makes modifications to the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, including providing community colleges with information about the job skills needed in small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses. 

In addition, the bill establishes an innovative services initiative to assist small- and medium-sized manufacturers in reducing their energy usage and environmental waste, accelerating the domestic commercialization of new product technologies, including components for renewable energy systems.  It also limits the federal cost-share for MEP centers to 50 percent of the cost in fiscal years 2011 through 2015.

H.R. 5116 establishes a new Bioscience Research Program to support research and development of standard reference materials, measurements, methods, and genomic and other data to advance:  biological drug research and development; molecular diagnostics; medical imaging technologies; and personalized medicine.

The bill also allows the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish research centers at institutions of higher education through a competitive application process to conduct research that furthers the objectives of the bioscience research program.  However, the National Institute of Standards and Technology already has the authority to implement such research centers. 

The measure would also allow the NIST to establish a research initiative to support the development of emergency communication and tracking technologies for use in locating trapped individuals in confined spaces, such as underground mines, and other shielded environments.

Title V: Innovation

H.R. 5116 establishes an Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship to foster innovation and the commercialization of new technologies, products, processes, and services.  The program would be responsible for advancing the commercialization of research and development, including federally funded research and development.

The bill also creates a program to provide loan guarantees for obligations to small- or medium-sized manufacturers for the use of production of innovative technologies.  A loan guarantee may be made under such a program for a project that reequips, expands, or establishes a manufacturing facility in the United States.  Eligible borrowers are those that are small- or medium-sized manufacturers.

A loan guarantee shall not exceed 80 percent of the principal of the loan, as stipulated at the time the loan is issued.  The measure authorizes $50 million for each fiscal year 2011-2015 for the loan guarantees.

The measure would also provide the Secretary the right to charge and collect fees for loan guarantees in an amount the Secretary determines are sufficient to cover applicable administrative expenses. 

Finally, this section authorizes to be appropriated $50 million for each of fiscal years 2011 through 2015 to provide for the cost of loan guarantees. 

H.R. 5116 would permit the Secretary of Commerce to establish a regional innovation program to encourage and support the development of innovative strategies, in order to facilitate market development of products and services.  The establishment of this program would allow the Secretary to award grants to eligible recipients for activities relating to the formation and development of regional innovation clusters.

Title VI: Department of Energy

H.R. 5116 stipulates that the mission of the Office of Science shall able to provide scientific discoveries, capabilities, and other scientific tools to transform the understanding of nature and to advance energy, economic, and national security in the United States.

The bill would also request the Office of Science to put greater emphasis on advancing our understanding of the earth's climate through research in atmospheric and environmental sciences and climate change. 

H.R. 5116 provides the Department of Energy's Office of Science with authorization of appropriations, FY2011-FY2015, of the following amounts:

  • FY2011:  $5,247,000,000;
  • FY2012:  $5,614,000,000;
  • FY2013:  $6,007,000,000;
  • FY2014:  $6,428,000,000;
  • FY2015:  $6,878,000,000

The bill extends the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) through FY2015 and shifts the programmatic emphasis toward facilitating the commercial application of energy technologies developed under ARPA-E and other government sponsored research and development programs.

The measure increases ARPA-E's independence within the Department of Energy by allowing the agency to hire and maintain a staff with sufficient qualifications and expertise to enable the program to carry out its mandated responsibilities.

H.R. 5116 provides the ARPA-E with authorization of appropriationsfor FY2011-FY2015, of the following amounts:

  • FY2011:  $300,000,000;
  • FY2012:  $450,000,000;
  • FY2013:  $600,000,000;
  • FY2014:  $800,000,000;
  • FY2015:  $1,000,000,000

The bill provides the Secretary of Energy with authority to create a program that enhances economic, environmental, and energy security by making grants available to establish and operate Energy Innovation Hubs.  This measure would create one centralized location, comprised of government, academic, and industry experts to collaborate on research and development, and commercial application of advanced energy technologies, in areas not being served by the private sector.

The measure provides the Energy Innovation Hubs with authorization of appropriations for FY2011-FY2015, of the following amounts:

  • FY2011:  $110,000,000;
  • FY2012:  $135,000,000;
  • FY2013:  $195,000,000;
  • FY2014:  $210,000,000;
  • FY2015:  $210,000,000

The measure directs the Department of Energy to make funds available to the National Laboratories for the federal cost-share of cooperative research and development agreements.  It requests that special consideration is given to small business firms in the process to determine which research and development projects receive funding.

 Title VII: Miscellaneous

This measure provides a sense of Congress that the programs and activities authorized in this act correspond with the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences' 2005 Report entitled, "Rising about the Gathering Storm."

This measure also provides special consideration for institutions of higher education, serving populations underrepresented in STEM, that serve persons with disabilities, including disabled veterans.

Background

In August 2007, Congress passed the America COMPETES Act (P.L.110-69) in response to the concerns of the business and academic communities with regard to America's global competitiveness.  The bill authorized appropriations targeting investments in science and technology grant programs, energy research, and engineering, science research, technology and mathematics (STEM) education, from K-12 through post-secondary.

The 2007 law was enacted in part as a response to a report issued in 2005 by the National Academies called "Rising above the Gathering Storm."  The report showed U.S students' performance in math and science was below that of other developed nations.

The America COMPETES Act of 2007 authorized a three-year, $43.3 billion bill through FY2010, which placed the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Department of Energy's Office of Science on a 7-year "doubling path."

Possible Member Concerns:

Increased Spending:  At a time of unsustainable government spending and large federal deficits, H.R. 5116 authorizes nearly $86 billion.  This amount is $22 billion above the FY2010 base amount, and $8 billion above the original 10 year "doubling path."  These totals do not reflect the nearly $5 billion in additional funding provided in the stimulus bill.  The bill would also extend the authorization period from three years to five years, discouraging oversight and fiscal restraint.

Increased Government:  The new spending would create at least six new programs, several that involve activities not associated with research and development, and others that are duplicative or unnecessary. The following are new and potentially duplicative programs:  The MEP Innovation Services Initiative, Bioscience Research Program, Innovation Prize Pilot Program, Department of Commerce Loan Guarantee Program, Department of Commerce "Regional Innovation Clusters" Program, and the Energy "Hubs" R&D program.

Policy Concerns:  The original 2007 legislation passed Congress with bipartisan support-the consensus being that the priority of the bill was to focus on the important needs of basic research and development.  This bill shifts those priorities, both through the implementation of new programs and the modification of existing programs, to focus on technology commercialization, which many members may consider to be corporate welfare. 

In addition to the basic research and development policy shift, the bill also expands its emphasis on global warming research and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.  In particular, the Office of Science requests greater emphasis on advancing our understanding of the earth's climate through research of atmospheric, environmental sciences, and climate change.

Cost

According to CBO, H.R. 5116 would authorize appropriations totally $86 billion over the 2011-2015 periods.  Assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts, CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would cost about $65 billion over the 2011-2015 periods, and about $20 billion after 2015.