Biden Administration Lays Out R&D Priorities

Sep 13, 2021

by ASME.org

On August 27 the Biden administration released a research and development priorities memorandum, an annual document intended to provide guidance to federal agencies in advance of their budget requests for the fiscal year 2022-23. The memorandum lays out priorities and expectations for cross-agency collaboration, noting that agencies should allocate resources both for agency-specific and wider administration priorities. The memorandum calls specific attention to pandemic readiness and prevention, climate change, research and innovation for emerging technologies, innovation for equity, and national security and economic resilience.  
 
Pandemic readiness and prevention. Highlighting both the human and economic tolls of more than 600,000 lives and trillions of dollars, respectively, the memorandum sets the target of being able to respond more rapidly to emerging health crises through early warning systems, therapies, vaccine development, and more.
 
Tackling climate change. Advancing climate science, innovation in clean-energy technologies, and working with communities on climate adaptation and resilience are listed as tenets of addressing climate change. Additionally, nature-based climate solutions and investments in monitoring and measurement of greenhouse gas emission are highlighted as priorities.
 
Catalyze research and innovation in critical and emerging technologies. Public-private partnerships, sharing of vast Federal Government datasets, and a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), quantum information science (QIS), robotics, and other technologies are listed as critical to building the United States’ digital economy.
 
Innovation for equity. Agencies are directed to pursue investments in programs with a mandate to  promote equity and inclusion and include those who have been “historically disadvantaged” as important stakeholders in Federal R&D. Additionally, “participatory modes of research” in which communities have access to the datahubs and other aspects of the scientific process are encouraged.
 
National security and economic resilience. Citing a need to mitigate biological, nuclear, and cyber national security risks, the memorandum calls for investment into technologies that will strengthen our national defense and critical infrastructure. Supply chain attacks are also mentioned as an important vulnerability to be addressed.
 
In addition to outlining five key priorities for inter-agency collaboration, the memorandum offers guidance on the importance of opening Federally funded R&D to the public in the spirit of transparency and collaboration and underscores the importance of STEM education and engagement. It recommends improved “diversity, inclusion, equity, and accessibility in STEM,” and notes that agencies should consider new ways to involve families in STEM outreach.
 
Increasing opportunities for underrepresented groups to participate in engineering at all education levels and in the engineering workforce is a main priority of ASME and is outlined in the newly released Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the STEM Workforce position paper. This paper outlines ASME’s support for fostering diversity, ensuring equitable access and inclusive practices, raising awareness of unconscious bias, and promoting cultural competence both within ASME and in the engineering field at large.
 
Read the memorandum here.
 

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