Federal Agenda

As one of the world's leading research universities, the University of Washington is proud to be a long-term partner with the federal government on programs and initiatives to improve society. Our 2022 Federal Agenda reflects our priorities for the coming year.

Our federal partnership

The global pandemic’s continued impact has demonstrated that the University of Washington is at the forefront of producing knowledge, tackling complex societal challenges and preparing all members of our local and national communities to be responsible and engaged citizens. Faculty, students and staff in all schools and colleges across the University remain steadfast in this work and in pursuit of education. While each is making unique contributions, the totality of the UW’s contributions arising from federal investment in science and pandemic support to students is greater than the sum of the discoveries by individuals.

A group of four people pose for a photo at the Othello light rail station
Provost Mark Richards and President Ana Mari Cauce with students Anthoni Duong and Ahlaam Ibrahim at the 2019 opening of the Othello-UW Commons in South Seattle.

Only through historic and consistent federal investment in science and scientific research could the UW and our nation continue to address the country’s wide-ranging needs throughout the pandemic. Multiple vaccines were created, tested and readied for global distribution in record time because of past investments in fundamental scientific research.

By leveraging federal, state and private dollars, the UW is developing and fostering the next generation of leaders, thinkers and doers, who are actively addressing the nation’s most complex challenges and accelerating innovation today while creating the advances, technologies and expertise of the future.

At the UW, we view federal support through regular and pandemic-related supplemental appropriations as long-term investments in the development of ideas, designed to pay significant dividends on both a national and a global scale. Thank you. Your continued support is invaluable.

In particular, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) has been crucial for the direct support of students and institutions in this time of crisis. This direct investment, through both the HEERF and the federal suspension of student-loan repayment, has been critical for students to allow them to continue their education.

This funding will also help our future well-educated and nimble workforce and will lead to innovative solutions to the grand challenges of our time. And always, we strive to be positive and responsible stewards of federal resources.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, researchers in the UW School of Civil & Environmental Engineering are working to understand the chaotic nature of tsunami debris. Read story

From the funds we received from the HEERF, the UW has disbursed nearly $87 million to our students to date, assisting nearly 28,000 with grants ranging from $550 to $1,800. We expect to assist more students from the funds in the coming months. The UW was also strategic in using this funding to deploy institutional dollars to assist students eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in each distribution, for all three HEERF rounds of funding.

For years, we have been focusing our collective efforts through two specific initiatives: Population Health and Race & Equity. The last two years have shown that these two focuses have been critically important and at the forefront of the nation’s social and political consciousness. As the world struggles to tackle the pandemic, our initiatives strive to provide answers to the tough questions that have been laid bare during this challenging time. While we have made progress across our institution, all of us can and should work harder to do more and push further. To do so, we need continued federal help and engagement. We need our government to create a welcoming and inclusive environment by action through national policies and structures that are available to all citizens and global visitors.

The UW’s research and innovation have driven the Washington state and U.S. economies for decades and will serve as a catalyst for recovery from the pandemic. The return on this investment is long-term and sustained. Our federal priorities for 2022 reflect a combination of our past accomplishments and a promise to continue to push the boundaries of excellence to serve our students, our state and our nation.

Federal investment in research and education

We thank Congress for its recent robust support of federal research funding and urge continued critical investments in basic and applied science in a broad spectrum of fields across all federal research-supporting agencies and directorates. The UW was proud to be awarded $1.45 billion in federally sponsored research in FY2021.


  • More than 286 specialized research centers are housed at the UW. Projects at these centers and across the UW sustain more than 12,000 jobs.
  • The UW shares research projects with universities in 33 countries and 49 states, and in Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.

The UW continues to view support for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as our top federal funding priority and the National Science Foundation (NSF) as our second priority. Every college and school across the UW has a grant funded by either NIH or NSF, and most have significant funding from both agencies. In FY2021, the UW received more than $718 million from the NIH, making it our largest single federal funding source, and $136 million from the NSF.

Overall, the UW received more than $874 million from the Department of Health and Human Services in FY2021, which includes funding from the NIH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Resources and Services Administration, and others.

Maintaining federal investment in research is not simply about singular monetary investments. Research programs need time, sustained resources and infrastructure support to mature and succeed. Inconsistent rules and guidance from federal agencies or funding uncertainty — whether from continuing resolutions, one-time increases or proposed cuts — undermines the decades of progress. Uncertainty sets up researchers, research institutions, agencies, innovation and our nation for failure.

The UW will lead a new National Science Foundation institute for using artificial intelligence to understand dynamic systems. Read story

The pandemic has caused significant disruption to the ability of researchers and labs to conduct their work. For example, travel into the field has been difficult, and labs have restricted the number of people who can access them at one time, both of which have hindered experiments. Federal agencies have been understanding and accommodating to keep researchers supported during the pandemic. However, as states and nations continue to enforce strong social-distancing protocols and travel prohibitions, grantees need continued flexibility in grant spending and additional funding backfill to allow continued execution of their grants.

The University of Washington’s priorities for 2022

While we believe there is a strong need to protect our investment in the research enterprise, funding for research programs is not enough. In addition to support for scientific research, federal efforts that bolster resources — both financial and programmatic — for student, faculty and staff success are fundamental to our long-term national security, economic growth and prosperity. Scientific progress and societal advancement are not possible without fostering student development and talent. We strive to ensure that the UW is an inclusive, diverse and welcoming community to all its members regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, economic status, nationality or length of time at the University. Assault, harassment and discrimination have no place on our campuses or in our nation.

We must find ways to allow all talented individuals to contribute to the education and research ecosystem, and we must break down unnecessary barriers. We urge Congress to improve our international-engagement abilities by reducing visa processing times for students and visiting scholars; enacting permanent, positive solutions for DACA-eligible recipients and their families; reaffirming our ability to welcome and engage in global discourse through international students and scholars; and creating an equitable and fair green-card system. In short, we ask that Congress and the administration come together in 2022 to finally take up and pass a comprehensive immigration-reform package.


  • The UW receives more federal research dollars than any other U.S. public university; in FY2021 it received $1.89 billion in total research awards (federal and nonfederal sources).

The UW fully recognizes that access to federal resources and the ability to welcome individuals from around the world are privileges and understands the associated responsibilities. We take seriously the security of the research enterprise and national security concerns. Foreign and domestic bad actors who strive to abuse or circumvent the grant and intellectual property system cannot be tolerated. The UW is working with the federal government and colleagues across higher education to be proactive in reinforcing or establishing protections and processes to educate faculty, students and staff on potential risks; promoting best practices for compliance with current federal and state disclosure requirements; and protecting our mutual intellectual property and future economic opportunity. We urge Congress to instruct federal agencies that sponsor research to better collaborate, share information and develop best practices to recognize threats and protect federal and university investments in intellectual property.

Further, we urge the federal government to develop a holistic data-reporting framework that is user-friendly for institutions and end users of data. Institutions of higher education are accustomed to submitting substantial volumes of data to systems such as the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, and we agree that the integrity of our nation’s scientific enterprise warrants transparency regarding our global engagements and contracts.

Over 30 years ago, Congress enacted Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 due to concerns about the growing financial relationship between U.S. universities and foreign sources. Congress balanced academic freedom and national security by mandating financial transparency by all institutions of higher education through reporting all contracts with, and gifts from, any foreign source if these contracts and gifts, alone or combined with others, are valued at $250,000 or more in a calendar year. This reporting occurs twice a year and requires disclosure of all contracts and the nature of gifts to the Department of Education. Institutions have complied for over three decades, but the current reporting mechanism is cumbersome at best and prohibits true, usable disclosures by end users. Rather than reveal nefarious actions, a well-designed system will, we believe, demonstrate instead how globally engaged and interconnected knowledge and the pursuit of science are today. We want to comply with sensible and reasonable requirements, and we ask that the federal government help create a usable system with clear guidance.

More specifically, the UW asks Congress to:

  • Maintain robust funding and support sustainable increases for the NIH and NSF, as well as other federal scientific research agencies and directorates.
  • Invest in next-generation research areas that are critical to the success of the next great interdisciplinary scientific future, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum sciences. Quantum sciences have a host of facets and research areas: quantum information science, quantum sensing, quantum computing, quantum communication and quantum encryption. Invest in cutting-edge-science opportunities such as quantum sciences and AI to develop future interdisciplinary science that seeks to advance and integrate research, education and commercialization across our community. Invest in fostering new collaborative initiatives, nurture our vibrant quantum science and AI ecosystems, and educate students for a quantum-ready society.
  • Reestablish a welcoming environment for students, scholars and visitors from around the globe, with sensible safeguards, by comprehensively reforming and creating a sensible immigration system. Only a comprehensive fix will address the shortfalls that exist in a host of critical and linked provisions and programs of importance to the UW and the nation alike, such as student and scholar visas (F-1, J-1), employment-based visas (H-1B, Optional Practical Training and green cards) and DACA eligibility for students and employees. The United States has benefited immeasurably from the contributions of international students and scholars, and unfortunately, recent history has demonstrated that piecemeal approaches to fixing different programs do not work. We ask for a comprehensive review of the system.
  • Invest in students directly by generously funding programs such as Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and Federal Work-Study, which make higher education a more viable possibility for financially disadvantaged students.
  • Continue to invest in undergraduate and graduate research and support programs that engage all students, especially those from traditionally underrepresented populations, in meaningful basic and applied research opportunities.
  • Support increased access and talent development through robust funding for TRIO and Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), as well as programs funded by the NSF and NIH designed to increase pathways for students who have historically been underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degree programs.
  • Reinvest in and strengthen Title VI and Fulbright-Hays, as they are the federal government’s most comprehensive international-education programs. Graduates of these programs are essential to our diplomatic, defense, commercial and educational interests, as well as interests in many other areas of society.

The UW’s Population Health Initiative


  • 24% of all UW undergraduates were eligible for Pell Grants as of fall 2021.
  • 28% of undergraduates were eligible for the Husky Promise, which covers tuition and fees for WA students with financial need.

While today’s global challenges are monumental and those of the future unpredictable, the UW remains committed to defying the odds and conventional thinking to solve these problems despite the challenges. One area that exemplifies the UW’s unique approach to problem-solving is our 25-year Population Health Initiative. This initiative seeks to address the intersecting factors that influence the health and well-being of our planet and our global population. In classrooms, clinics and communities, the initiative takes a holistic approach by bringing together students and faculty from many disciplines to improve human health, sustain our environment and promote social and economic equity.

The National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center at the UW was awarded $35 million from the National Institutes of Health to continue the center’s mission of free, global access to data that powers vital research. Read story

The initiative’s efforts are directed toward diverse yet interconnected challenges. UW researchers are analyzing issues around community resilience to extreme nature events caused by climate change; addressing systemic food and water insecurities; reducing the rate, burden and racial disproportionality of disease; and improving health in our rapidly changing world.

Our focus on the health and well-being of our whole population has never been more obvious than in our efforts throughout the pandemic. Seattle was our nation’s first COVID-19 epicenter, and without the committed medical professionals, researchers and staff across the UW immediately mobilizing to educate, treat and search for cures, our region and our country would not have been as prepared or able to address the pandemic. Across the UW, the Husky family has risen to the challenge, from facing hard times to righting wrongs and helping to solve problems. The examples are numerous, including but not limited to:

  • UW researchers and alums engineering and creating new and significant quantities of PPE
  • The UW School of Public Health partnering with the state to reduce health-care barriers for those who are older, have medical conditions or are not fluent in English
  • The UW College of Education researching the impact of COVID-19 on schools, students, families and teachers
  • UW Medicine producing its own COVID-19 tests to make up for the national shortage and then addressing the subsequent challenge of processing them, which it was able to do as an outpouring of UW scientists stepped up to help — from lab techs to postdocs to graduate students

Every day, we find tremendous hope in how the UW community pulls together to listen, learn, take action and improve the world. Together we are ready for whatever tomorrow might bring.

The UW’s Race & Equity Initiative


Students, faculty and staff across our three campuses are working hard to advance the values of diversity, equity and inclusion at the UW. Learn more

At the UW, we are unwavering in our resolve to create an inclusive, equitable and welcoming community for all. Diversity, in all its forms, is critical to advance our understanding of the world and to discover solutions that better serve society. We believe in leading by example, and the UW is putting great effort into changing our culture by recognizing overt biases and microaggressions and fostering a safe environment to report and address inappropriate or offensive behavior. These changes benefit the entire UW community. We are proud of our diversity, and we strive to create a safe and respectful place to discover, challenge the status quo and grow intellectually.

Our commitment to inclusion is not limited by borders. The nation’s ability to remain competitive and innovative is dependent on our ability to attract the best minds, regardless of origin. At the same time, the renowned excellence of American higher education is not possible without a healthy and welcoming environment for all students and scholars. The ability to innovate and remain competitive and the unparalleled quality of American higher education are inextricably linked. Access to and sharing of ideas is fundamental to the fabric of progress.


  • 74% of UW undergrads are WA residents; all 39 WA counties are represented in the student body.
  • More than 82% of alumni live and work in WA.

For the UW to ensure excellence and become even more innovative, it is imperative that Congress take steps to maintain the free flow of ideas, whether through robust Title VI International Education funding or by funding proven access programs such as GEAR UP and TRIO. Just as importantly, we have seen over the past several years that a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system is long overdue, as too many talented people, including DACA-eligible individuals, have been caught up in the current set of piecemeal rules and regulations.

Our nation needs strong H-1B visa and Optional Practical Training programs and to establish a permanent legal fix for DACA-eligible individuals and their families. As a global university, we recognize our ability to bring ideas together, bridge differences and create a more prosperous future for all.

Stories of impact

Read about the people, places and programs that drive the University of Washington’s faculty, staff and students to work for a world of good.

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Can artificial intelligence revolutionize weather forecasting?

Dale Durran, a professor of atmospheric sciences, is using AI to develop a model that will revolutionize our ability to forecast the weather.

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Despite cleaner air, pollution disparities for people of color remain across the US

University of Washington researchers investigated disparities in exposure to six major air pollutants in 1990, 2000 and 2010 by comparing models of air pollution levels to census data — including where people live, their racial/ethnic background and their income status.

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step free route for wheelchair access

$11.45 million federal grant will develop transit, mobility tech for underserved groups

As part of the Transportation Data Equity Initiative, the UW is developing technology that will allow underserved groups to use mobility applications to get from place to place.

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The Husky mascot on the University of Washington campus

Newly formed Seattle VC firm aims to mine Univ. of Washington network for talent, innovation, money

The University of Washington is an absolute research powerhouse, ranking fifth among U.S. universities in R&D expenditures.

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  • 100,520 jobs created or sustained by the UW.

  • 44% of UW students who have declared science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors are women.

  • 66% of undergraduates graduate with no known debt.

  • The UW’s economic impact in WA state was $15.7 billion in FY2018. Nationally, its economic impact exceeded $24 billion.

  • The UW is one of the best universities in the world, ranked No. 7 globally and No. 2 among U.S. public institutions by U.S. News & World Report.

  • In 2020–21, about 54% of UW undergraduates received some form of financial aid, totaling more than $467 million.

  • UW Bothell generates $341.8 million in economic impact annually.

  • 41% of UW Bothell students and 60% of UW Tacoma students are the first in their families to attain a bachelor’s degree.

  • UW Tacoma generates $313.5 million in economic impact annually.

  • 17% of UW Tacoma students are military affiliated, and 10% are eligible for veterans’ benefits.


Office of Federal Relations

444 North Capitol St. NW
Suite 418
Washington, DC 20001

Sarah Castro


Sang Han

Deputy Director

Gabriel Kornas

Federal Relations Associate