August 8, 2014
Capitol Update

In this issue:



Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller, IV, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, along with Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Ed Markey (D-MA), recently introduced the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2014 (S. 2757).

The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2014 builds on the goals and successes of the America COMPETES Act of 2007 and its reauthorization in 2010. The Senators’ bill would authorize stable and sustained increases in federal research and development (R&D) funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The bill would also promote the economic benefits of promising R&D and address agency efforts, including at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to increase participation in STEM fields, including among women and minorities.

The new legislation does not cover the Energy Department's Office of Science and other energy programs that were included in previous bills.

Recognizing the need for long-term investments in science and technology, Congress passed the America COMPETES Acts to significantly increase investments in key federal research and development (R&D) activities; to advance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; and to support the innovation necessary for economic growth. In 2013, more than 70 organizations representing business, higher education, and scientific communities, including ASME, signed onto “Guiding Principles” to inform a COMPETES reauthorization and reiterated the importance of basic research investments as a top national priority.

The text of the legislation may be reviewed at:

The “Guiding Principles” letter can be found on ASME’s Position Statement web page at:



The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Economic Council are requesting public comments to provide input into an upcoming update of the Strategy for American Innovation, which helps to guide the Obama Administration's efforts to promote lasting economic growth and competitiveness through policies that support transformative American innovation in products, processes, and services and spur new fundamental discoveries that in the long run lead to growing economic prosperity and rising living standards. These efforts include policies to promote critical components of the American innovation ecosystem, including scientific research and development (R&D), technical workforce, entrepreneurship, technology commercialization, advanced manufacturing, and others. The strategy also provides an important framework to channel these Federal investments in innovation capacity towards innovative activity for specific national priorities.

Questions which interested stakeholders are asked to address include the following:

  • What specific policies or initiatives should the Administration consider prioritizing in the next version of the Strategy for American Innovation?
  • What are the biggest challenges to, and opportunities for, innovation in the United States that will generate long-term economic growth, increased productivity sustained leadership in knowledge-intensive sectors, job creation, entrepreneurship, and rising standards of living for more Americans?
  • What specific actions can the Federal Government take to build and sustain U.S. strengths including its entrepreneurial culture, flexible labor markets, world-class research universities, strong regional innovation ecosystems, and large share of global venture capital investment?
  • How can the Federal Government augment its overall capacity for analysis of both the forces that determine the competitiveness of specific sectors and the impact of Federal policies—including, but not limited to, science, technology, and innovation policies—on sector-specific productivity and competitiveness? What are the most important outstanding questions about innovation policy and process and how might government promote systematic research and program evaluation in those areas?

Additional detailed information is available at:
Responses must be received by September 23, 2014 to be considered.

To read the Obama Administration's current Innovation Strategy, visit:



The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced a new competition for planning awards to support industry-driven consortia in developing research plans and charting collaborative actions to solve high-priority technology challenges and accelerate the growth of advanced manufacturing in the United States.

NIST's Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech) Program anticipates awarding a total of $5.6 million in two-year grants during the program's second competition. Awards will range between about $250,000 and $500,000, subject to the availability of funds. Applications are due October 31, 2014, and selections will be announced during the first half of 2015.

AMTech's goal is to spur consortia-planned and led research on long-term, precompetitive technology needs of U.S. manufacturing industries. The program aims to help eliminate barriers to advanced manufacturing capabilities and to promote domestic development of an underpinning technology infrastructure, including high-performing supply chains.

AMTech is designed to address a serious weakness in the nation's innovation ecosystem, an issue identified by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) and the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, among other bodies. According to the NSTC, there is a gap between R&D activities and the deployment of technological innovations in the domestic production of goods, which is contributing significantly, for example, to the growing trade deficit in high-value-added, advanced-technology products.

Full details of the solicitation, including eligibility requirements, selection criteria, legal requirements and the mechanism for submitting proposals, are found in an announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) posted at under funding opportunity number 2014-NIST-AMTECH-01.

NIST will host a webinar on the AMTech funding opportunity on August 14, 2014, beginning at 2 PM Eastern Time. The event will offer guidance on the AMTech program and preparing proposals. Webinar participants will be able to ask questions. Advance registration is required. To register for the Aug. 14 webinar, go to:

The full text of the FFO announcement is available at:

More information on the AmTech program is available at:



Six jurisdictions have received Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track-1 awards from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

The $20 million awards will bolster science and engineering academic research infrastructure in the U.S. Virgin Islands and five states: Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota. Each five-year award will support fundamental research; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce development in areas relevant to the jurisdictions' economic and other vital interests.

Each award targets technologically relevant strategic themes. The research, education and outreach activities also consider economic and environmental factors related to the consequences of climate disruption. Several jurisdictions are tackling the scientific underpinnings of sustaining crop yields for agricultural production (Missouri, South Dakota and North Dakota); two jurisdictions are focusing on coastal ecological challenges (Maine and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Energy and sustainable materials with a focus on economic drivers and end-users are central themes for two jurisdictions (Kentucky and North Dakota).

For more detailed information on the awards, go to:



ACT, a company known for its range of assessments and reporting systems, recently released a report entitled, Missing the Mark. This report suggests that changing high school graduation requirements alone may have little effect on students’ college and career readiness.

To conduct its analysis, ACT researchers looked at data from Illinois students attending high school after a law changing high school graduation requirements was enacted in 2005. The law requires high school students to take a minimum of two years of science and three years of math coursework. Three trends were identified in the analysis—in course taking, achievement, and college enrollment.

The report’s conclusions indicate that higher graduation requirements alone are unlikely to improve college and career readiness for high school students. For college and career readiness to be improved for all students, “states and districts should also look for ways to improve student preparation for advanced coursework and to ensure courses remain sufficiently rigorous to challenge all students.”

For more information about the report, please visit:



The United States Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) 16th Annual Independent Inventor Conference will be held August 15-16, 2014. After taking place in various regions around the country, this year's annual conference will be held at the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.

For two days, independent inventors and small business owners will have an unparalleled opportunity to learn, network, and jumpstart their creative endeavors. Experts and senior officials from the USPTO will present valuable information on patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property (IP) matters while successful business owners and inventors will relate their inspiring personal experiences in bringing their products to market. In addition, representatives from government, legal, and business development entities will discuss commercial best practices and the various resources offered by their organizations. Each attendee will have an exclusive opportunity to meet one-on-one with a USPTO expert or IP professional of his or her choice, as well as hear keynote addresses from major figures in the entrepreneurial world.

The featured keynote luncheon speaker for Friday, August 15, is Woody Norris.  A successful inventor holding over 50 patents, Norris was the recipient of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT prize in 2005. For more information about his life and inventions, his TED Talk is available at:

A pre-conference workshop will take place the evening of August 14 to help conference-goers prepare for getting the most out of their experience.

Attendees will also be able to choose from a variety of panels and breakout sessions that address specific intellectual property topics relevant to the modern inventor and small business owner. These sessions include hands-on workshops on patent and trademark application filing, prior art searching, and recent changes in legislation that affect business owners and inventors, among many other topics.

To register for the event, please visit:

Additional information is available at:


The articles contained in Capitol Update are not positions of ASME or any of its sub-entities, unless specifically noted as such. This publication is designed to inform ASME members about issues of concern being debated and discussed in the halls of congress, in the states and in the federal agencies.


ASME Government Relations
1828 L Street, NW, Suite 810
Washington, DC 20036

  • Melissa Carl covers public policy-related science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and diversity issues for ASME. She can be reached at
  • Paul Fakes covers public policy-related energy, standards and environmental issues for ASME. He can be reached at
  • Roy Chrobocinski covers public policy-related research and development (R&D) and manufacturing issues for ASME. He can be reached at