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December 19, 2016
BOULDER, Colo. — By voting unanimously this month to pass the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, Congress has strengthened U.S. science and provided a major boost to the nation's economy and national security.
"Scientific research is the critical foundation of economic competitiveness," said Antonio J. Busalacchi, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). "This bipartisan legislation will propel advances in research and strengthen collaborations between scientists and private industry, creating jobs and providing far-ranging benefits for the nation in the years to come."
Busalacchi noted that federal investments in atmospheric research alone have spawned a multibillion private weather industry, providing critical forecasts to business leaders and local officials and helping to save lives from tornadoes, floods, and other disasters.
The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, which maximizes opportunities for basic research, won unanimous passage last week in the House and Senate. It was sponsored by Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) and Gary Peters (D-Michigan), along with John Thune (R-South Dakota) and Bill Nelson (D-Florida).
The bill encourages scientific entrepreneurship; provides incentives for private sector innovation; promotes improvements in manufacturing; strengthens national security; and promotes diversity in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. It most directly focuses on programs in the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Key provisions include:
Maximizing basic research
Leveraging the private sector
Promoting innovation and technology transfer
The legislation also includes provisions to strengthen national security and foster more communication between science and national security agencies. It reduces paperwork burdens and promotes transparency by requiring public notices of grants to justify the project's expenditures and confirm that they align with NSF priorities.
"Congress's unanimous support of scientific research and innovation is an important step for securing our nation's future, " Busalacchi said. "At UCAR we look forward to working with NSF and other federal agencies, the research community, and the private sector to advance research in support of society."
The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.