Last week, a slimmed-down version of the bipartisan innovation legislation now referred to as the CHIPS and Science Act passed with bipartisan support via roll call vote in both the Senate (64-33) and House (243-187). Read AAAS’ statement on the Senate passage as well as White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Director Alondra Nelson’s statement.
In addition to $54.2 billion in funding for semiconductor and public wireless supply chain innovation, the final version of the bill contains many provisions for STEM R&D. We outline them below.
Robust Reauthorization of the National Science Foundation (NSF)
The bill authorizes $81 billion for NSF over five years. This means NSF’s budget could reach $18.9 billion for FY 2027, roughly double its current budget. NSF is also empowered to experiment with a variety of funding models and pursue use-inspired and translational research. Authorized focus areas include:
- Strategic Translational Science
- $20 billion authorized over five years for NSF’s new Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) Directorate, which will address both competitiveness and societal challenges.
- Initial focus of the TIP Directorate: 10 critical technology areas (including AI and machine learning, robots, and advanced manufacturing) and 5 societal challenges (including national security and climate change), a compromise of the Senate and House visions.
- Basic Research (including topic areas such as sustainable chemistry and critical minerals)
- STEM Workforce (including authorized funding for scholarships, fellowships, and traineeships)
- $200 million appropriated for NSF to support the microelectronics workforce.
- Broad-based Research Opportunities (including investments in minority serving institutions and emerging research institutions)
- Rural STEM Education
Movement Toward Cementing a National Science & Technology Strategy
The bill authorizes a quadrennial S&T review by OSTP in collaboration with other White House offices and federal agencies as well as a complementary comprehensive national S&T strategy by OSTP and the National S&T Council.
Support for the Creation of Regional Technology Hubs
The bill authorizes Commerce Department regional innovation hubs as well as regional innovation engines within the NSF TIP Directorate.
Fortification of R&D in Other Federal Agencies
Department of Energy
The bill authorizes DOE Office of Science budget growth of nearly 50% over five years, to $10.8 billion in FY 2027. It authorizes $4 billion to upgrade infrastructure at National Labs and $11.2 billion to work on key technology areas supported by the NSF TIP directorate. Funding is also authorized for programs including:
- Areas such as basic energy sciences, biological and environmental research, and advanced scientific computing research, among others.
- Clean energy programs including a Regional Clean Energy Innovation Program.
- Creation of the Foundation for Energy Security and Innovation modeled on bodies like the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH).
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
The bill authorizes NIST for $9 billion over 5 years, putting it at $2.3 billion by FY 2027, roughly double its current budget. Authorized focus areas include:
- Critical Technology Research and Standards in areas including AI, cybersecurity, and semiconductors
- Manufacturing Extension Partnership
- Funding tripled to $2 billion total.
- Supply Chain Disruption
- Creation of new Competitively Awarded Manufacturing Research Institutes, also called Manufacturing USA
- Promotion of Competitiveness in International Standards
There is no new authorization of funds for NASA. There are authorizations for existing programs in focus areas including the Artemis Moon Program, the International Space Station, and planetary defense.
Other Programs and Subject Areas of Note
The bill tasks OSTP to create governmentwide guidance relating to foreign talent programs, including:
- Prohibiting federal agency personnel from participating in foreign talent recruitment programs.
- Disclosure requirements for PIs who do participate in foreign talent recruitment programs.
- Prohibiting awards to individuals who participate in malign foreign talent recruitment programs.
The bill also:
- Creates the Research Security and Integrity Information Sharing Organization to serve as a center for gathering information and assessing risk.
- Creates the Office of Research Security and Policy at NSF to be led by the Chief of Research Security and tasked with creating an online resource on security risks and best practices, among other things.
- Tasks DOE with creating a Research Risk Matrix and to coordinate with other agencies, in identifying emerging technologies to protect.
- Tasks NIST one year after enactment to conduct a study of its policies and protocols to protect research and combat undue foreign influence.
The Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)
The bill includes compromise language scaling up the amount of funding dedicated to EPSCoR institutions over seven years to 20% in 2029, as practicable and consistent with merit review. The Senate bill would have allotted 20% to the EPSCoR program (which currently has an allocation of less than 3%) as opposed to EPSCoR institutions, which already receive about 13% of NSF research dollars. The bill also requires 10% of R&D funds out of the DOE Office of Science per year go to EPSCoR institutions, as practicable and consistent with merit review.
The bill includes several training programs, research initiatives, grant programs and other initiatives that focus on broadening participation. Among other provisions, the bill:
- Directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to inventory federal competitive research programs targeted to minority serving institutions (MSIs) and OSTP to issue uniform policy guidance to improve agency outreach to MSIs.
- Supports capacity building for MSIs, including the establishment of MSI Centers of Innovation.
- Codifies a chief diversity officer position at NSF.
- Requires OSTP to develop guidance for agencies on flexibilities for caregivers and guidance for universities and federal labs on cultural/institutional barriers that limit recruitment, retention and advancement of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM.
- Supports research to better understand sexual harassment in STEM and develop effective interventions; requires OSTP to designate an interagency working group to coordinate federal research agency efforts to reduce sexual harassment in STEM; and includes gender harassment in the definition of sexual harassment.
 Note that Congress would still need to appropriate funding in its annual appropriations.