S. 3084: a Bipartisan bill that would set policy for major U.S. science agencies including NSF

S. 3084: American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, sets out policies governing NSF, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and federal programs on innovation, manufacturing, and science and math education.

Senate leaders are hoping to win passage this week of the bill, which as of this morning had not been publicly posted on a government website.

Here are selected provisions:

  • The bill would require a formal analysis of the proposed cost of a large facility before construction begins, and another while it is being built. Management fees are still allowed, but their use must be closely monitored.
  • NSF must provide written justification for the salaries of every rotator earning more than a senior government manager in the equivalent job.
  • NSF must notify other federal agencies when it issues a finding of scientific misconduct. The bill does not say whether the notification must be made public.
  • A long-running program meant to help states that receive relatively few federal research dollars would become a permanent feature of NSF’s portfolio. The “E” in the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research would be changed to “established,” in recognition that few states have ever graduated out of the program.
  • An interagency working group would be created within the White House to examine ways to reduce the paperwork associated with receiving a federal research grant. It is seen as complementing a provision in medical reform bill poised to become law, the 21st Century Cures Act, that would create a Research Policy Board with the same mission.
  • The bill would require federal agencies to clarify their policies on travel to scientific conferences and workshops. It endorses the importance of allowing employees to attend scientific conferences and workshops to share their findings and foster collaborative research.

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