December 9, 2016
Capitol Update

In this issue:


PROVISIONS TO DECREASE FEDERAL REGULATIONS ON UNIVERSITIES INCLUDED IN 21ST CENTURY CURES ACT

Representative Dan Lipinski (D-IL) sponsored the University Regulation Streamlining and Harmonization Act, HR 5583, in June of this year, and provisions from this bill were included in the broader health research and funding bill known as the 21st Century Cures Act, which recently passed the House.  His bill includes recommendations from a National Academies report to reduce the time and resources spent by researchers and universities in complying with excessive federal regulations.

An important provision of the 21st Century Cures Act includes language to establish a Research Policy Board, a new advisory board at the White House Office of Management and Budget. The board would consist of 10 Federal members and up to 12 representatives of academic research institutions, and other private, non-profit research groups with the goal of providing information on the effects of regulations on federal research requirements.

To read the full press release, please visit:  https://lipinski.house.gov/press-releases/lipinski-successful-in-effort-to-reduce-regulations-and-improve-university-research-opportunities/


NEW ITIF REPORT DETAILS IMPACT OF INNOVATION ON EVERY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT AND STATE

A recent Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) report entitled High Tech Nation reveals that contrary to perceptions, America’s innovation-driven, high-tech economy is not concentrated around hubs like Silicon Valley or Research Triangle Park. Instead, it is diffused and every state and congressional district has a stake in its success.

The report makes the argument that every member of Congress and other policymakers should support the common goal of advancing our national strength through shared foundations that include:

  • A highly educated and skilled workforce;
  • Robust research and development,
  • Digital-age infrastructure, and
  • Globally competitive high-tech industries.

The report also draws on 20 indicators of the innovation economy to paint statistical portraits of all 435 U.S. congressional districts plus the District of Columbia.

The indicators include measures of innovative vitality in four main areas:
1. Exports of high-tech goods and services, including manufacturing, IT services, and royalty and license services;
2. Workforce education and skills, including the numbers of workers in high-tech sectors and STEM occupations, and the number of highly educated immigrants;
3. Innovative ideas, including patent-related activity and public funding for R&D; and
4. Digital infrastructure, including the share of households with access to broadband Internet services and the number of broadband providers in each district.

To review the report, please visit: http://bit.ly/2g343aG


NIST SPURS INNOVATION IN ADVANCED MANUFACTURING

The answer to increasing innovation and growth in advanced manufacturing is rectifying currently unmet needs for measurement science and “proof-of-concept” demonstrations of emerging technologies according to the studies funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

“Gaps in the technology infrastructure—including the lack of reliable measurement and test methods, scientifically based standards, and other formal knowledge and tools—limit advanced manufacturing’s further development and adoption,” said NIST economist Gary Anderson.

Using data collected through extensive interviews and surveys with researchers, developers, manufacturers and other stakeholders, each of the four studies identifies 5 to10 critical technical barriers to the adoption of its specific manufacturing technology. The studies also estimate the impacts of eliminating those obstacles and define which needs should be met first to do so.

For each of the four advanced manufacturing technologies studied, the estimated annual cost savings and percentage reduction in production costs are:

  • Additive manufacturing: $4.1 billion, 18.3 percent
  • Advanced robotics and automation: $40.1 billion, 5.3 percent
  • Roll-to-roll manufacturing: $400 million, 14.7 percent
  • Smart manufacturing: $57.4 billion, 3.2 percent

A summary of the overall findings from the four economic studies is available at: http://bit.ly/2gVlPhI. The individual reports and the overview brief for each also may be accessed at the aforementioned link.


NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT (NDAA) PASSES CONGRESS AND INCLUDES MANUFACTURING ENGINEERING EDUCATION GRANT PROGRAM

The House and Senate recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), authorizing a new manufacturing program titled, the “Manufacturing Engineering Education Grant Program.”

Earlier this year, the ASME Manufacturing Public Policy Task Force circulated a letter of support on Capitol Hill for the Manufacturing Universities provision, a program based on the original Manufacturing Universities Act. One hundred and ten organizations signed onto the ASME letter, generating significant support for including the provision in the NDAA House-Senate compromise bill. As a result of these efforts, a provision based on the Manufacturing Universities Act has been included in the final bill with some alterations. A copy of the letter can be viewed here: http://ppec.asme.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Letter-in-Support-of-the-Manufacturing-Universities-Grant-Program-in-the-FY2017-NDAA-1.pdf.

In comparison to the Manufacturing Universities Act, which would have designated 25 institutes of higher education as “Manufacturing Universities,” the updated provision places more focus on industry involvement. Eligible entities that can receive grants through the authorized program has expanded from “Institutes of Higher Education” to include “industry, not-for-profit institutions, institutions of higher education, or to consortia of such institutions or industry.” The revised program allows industry itself to compete for awards in addition to universities. The bill goes further to promote industry involvement by specifically stating in the selection criteria that a successful proposal must demonstrate “a significant level of involvement of United States industry.” Additional selection criteria includes taking into consideration if the program can, within three years after the award is made, attract funding sources outside the Federal Government. Given that the award period in the original language was slated to last four years, this shows a fiscal tightening from what was originally proposed in the Manufacturing Universities Act.

Aside from the broadening of eligible entities, the type and scope of programs eligible for funding has expanded as well. Programs that can be funded include: seminars, workshops, training, recruitment of educators, curriculum and faculty development, interactions between students and industry, job placement activities, and establishment of joint manufacturing programs with defense laboratories, among others.

As far as dollars are concerned, the compromised NDAA includes no specific authorization funding levels for the Manufacturing Engineering Education Grant Program. Dollar amounts will be decided later on when securing funding for the program through the FY 2018 appropriations process. The NDAA also does not provide a cap on the number of institutions that can receive the award, which was previously 25. Much of this will be decided later in the regulatory process.

To read the relevant section of the bill, Sec. 215 Manufacturing Engineering Education Grant Program, please visit: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/4909?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22ndaa%22%5D%7D&r=5


FEDERAL RESEARCH FUNDING SHOULD ACCOUNT FOR HOW DATA FROM POTENTIAL PROJECTS WILL BE SHARED

The National Institutes of Health will require applicants for federal research funding to submit a plan outlining how data gleaned from potential projects will be shared as part of the administration’s effort to make such data more public.

Going forward, the agency will begin to require applicants to all NIH centers to include a data-sharing strategy in grant proposals. NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins stated, “We are going to expect that applicants who are generating data sets to produce a data-sharing plan or we are not going to fund them. And for applicants who basically have failed to live up to their responsibilities for data sharing, that will hurt them in their next opportunity to get funds from NIH. So any idea that hanging on to your data is going to help you in a future application to this institution is wrong-headed,” he said in a recent interview.

There are also Congressional advocates of the efforts to ensure a baseline expectation that data from clinical trial research will be shared.

For more information, go to:
http://www.rollcall.com/news/policy/nih-require-researchers-receiving-grants-share-data#sthash.0fourpCj.dpuf


NREL OUTLOOK SHOWS CONTINUED GROWTH IN RENEWABLES AND GAS IN THE U.S. POWER SECTOR

Recently, the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released its 2016 Standard Scenarios: A U.S. Electricity Sector Outlook. The outlook shows significant projected growth in natural gas and renewables through 2050 driven by low-cost natural gas, renewable energy cost declines, growth in rooftop photovoltaics, power sector decarbonization, and performance improvements. The report also provides a new section this year that provides state-level capacity, generation data.

NREL hosted a webinar at 1 p.m. MST (3 p.m. EST) on Dec. 6 to describe the analytical products in detail, show examples of these products and their uses, and provide an opportunity to ask questions.

For additional information about the webinar and to download the report, please visit http://www.nrel.gov/news/press/2016/39763

Visit the ASME Public Policy Education Center at http://ppec.asme.org/ for daily news and policy developments, including the following:

ASME Government Relations
1828 L Street, NW, Suite 810
Washington, DC 20036
Website: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations