On July 14, the House of Representatives passed several science and engineering related bills. The bills (H.R. 5031, H.R. 5056, and H.R. 5029) were small portions of the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act that the House Science, Space and Technology Committee introduced earlier this year to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act. These smaller bills had strong bipartisan support.
H.R. 5031, the STEM Education Act, adds computer science to the definition of STEM for federal science agencies, authorizes informal STEM education grants at the National Science Foundation and amends NSF’s Noyce Master Teacher Fellowship program to expand eligibility to current math and science teachers who already have a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field. Supporters of the legislation believe it will provide critical support to the teachers and advocates of STEM education who are preparing our students with the skills they need to succeed in our increasingly competitive global economy.
H.R. 5056, the Research and Development Efficiency Act, requires that the Office of Science and Technology Policy establish a working group of federal research agencies to figure out how to better standardize and streamline the administrative requirements on their grantees.
H.R. 5029, the International Science and Technology Cooperation Act of 2014, provides for the establishment of a body to identify and coordinate international science and technology cooperation that can strengthen the domestic science and technology enterprise and support United States foreign policy goals. Again, supporters believe that improvements in areas such as energy security, infectious diseases, space exploration, telecommunications and the internet (and many more) are dependent in part on international cooperation, which benefits all nations involved. By collaborating with international partners on scientific and engineering issues, the U.S. scientific enterprise will get the biggest return on investment.
Then on July 22nd, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5120 and H.R. 5035 by voice vote. H.R. 5120, the Department of Energy (DOE) Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer Act of 2014, would unify the management of the DOE’s science and energy programs under one Undersecretary for Science and Energy position and reform regulations at DOE’s National Labs to promote transfers of federal research into the commercialization process.
This legislation would make it easier for entrepreneurs and business leaders to harness federally funded research by setting up a new commercialization pilot program and authorizing new public-private partnerships. Both initiatives are aimed at moving technologies out of the lab system and into the marketplace.
H.R. 5035, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Authorization Act of 2014, reauthorizes the agency through FY 2015 and includes updated language about the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership program.
Full text of these bills may be found here by searching the bill number.