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NSF Hosts Virtual Grants Conference

The National Science Foundation will host a virtual grants conference the week of June 6-10, 2022.

The conference will cover:

• New programs and initiatives
• NSF Directorate sessions
• Future directions and strategies for national science policy
• Proposal preparation and the merit review process
• Award management topics

Sign up here to be notified when registration is open.

2022 Federal Agenda Now Live

The University of Washington has published our 2022 Federal Agenda reaffirming our commitment to a robust partnership with the federal government. You can view the agenda here.

On March 24th at 12pm PT, Director of Federal Relations Sarah Castro will participate in a Town Hall highlighting the key elements of our federal agenda. Members of the UW community can register here.

Dept of Ed Makes Changes to College Scorecard

The Department of Education announced changes to the college scorecard which aim to make the tool more useful for students and families. The updated scorecard shows institution-level earnings data, loan burden, costs, and graduation rates, among other key data points.

In a press statement, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said, “The updated and enhanced College Scorecard shines a spotlight on affordability, inclusivity, and outcomes, over exclusivity and colleges that leave students without good jobs and with mountains of debt. This update reflects the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to ensuring students remain at the heart of the Department’s work.”

The scorecard for University of Washington (Seattle) boasts a higher graduation rate, lower cost of attendance, and higher post-grad earnings compared to the national average.

House Passes America COMPETES Act

The House passed the America COMPETES Act of 2022 (H.R. 4521) on a nearly party-line vote. The bill has a broad focus attempting to tackle research, climate, supply chain, education, and immigration issues. As it stands, the legislation reauthorizes the NSF and key components of the Department of Energy, invests in semiconductor chips production, and contains diplomatic, research security, and immigration provisions. Several amendments were adopted, and the bill will need to be conferenced with the bipartisan US Innovation and Competition Act (USICA, S. 1260). You can find a fact sheet here.

Register Now: Federal Relations Spring Town Hall

The Office of Federal Relations will host a virtual town hall for the campus community on Thursday, March 24th from 12pm-1pm PT. Our staff will provide an update on the federal budget, infrastructure and competitiveness bills, and preview the UW’s 2022 federal agenda. This will be followed by an opportunity for Q&A. Register here (NetID restricted).

Shelly Lowe Confirmed as NEH Chair

Yesterday the Senate confirmed Shelly Lowe, of Arizona, to be the Chairperson of the National Endowment of the Humanities for a four year term. President Biden is expected to make the appointment in the coming days and she will begin her term shortly after. Ms. Lowe previously served in positions at the University of Arizona and Yale University, and is currently completing her doctorate in higher education. She grew up in Arizona and is a member of the Navajo Nation.

You can read her statement on being confirmed here.

House Releases America COMPETES Act of 2022

Today, House leadership revealed the America COMPETES Act of 2022 (H.R. 4521). Much like the bipartisan United States Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260), which passed in the Senate last summer, the bill authorizes strategic investments in advanced scientific research at NSF and the Department of Energy, semiconductor chip manufacturing, supply chain and natural resource issues, and key diplomatic efforts.

Of particular relevance:

  • $52B for the CHIPS for America Act.
  • Comprehensive reauthorization of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
  • Reauthorizes the entire National Science Foundation and establishes a new Directorate for Science and Engineering Solutions (SES).
  • Establishes a National Engineering Biology Research and Development Initiative.
  • Enhances outreach and access to STEM education at all levels.
  • Reauthorizes Title VI International Education programs.

A factsheet is available here and a section-by-section summary is available here.

OSTP Releases Guidance for U.S. Scientific Research Security That Preserves International Collaboration

Today the National Science and Technology Council, Joint Committee on the Research Environment (JCORE), released guidance for Federal departments and agencies on implementing National Security Presidential Memorandum 33 (NSPM-33) on National Security Strategy for U.S. Government-Supported Research and Development.

The guidance addresses the below key elements of NSPM-33:

1) disclosure requirements and standardization;

2) digital persistent identifiers;

3) consequences for violation of disclosure requirements;

4) information sharing; and

5) research security programs.

As a next step, Dr. Eric Lander, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is directing agencies to develop model grant applications and instructions within 120 days that can be used by any funding agency.

In a press statement, Dr. Lander said “the implementation guidance reflects the principles I laid out in August: to protect America’s security and openness, to be clear so that well-intentioned researchers can easily and properly comply, and to ensure that policies do not fuel xenophobia or prejudice.”

You can read the full guidance here.

Biden Signs EO on Federal Government Customer Service

Today President Biden signed an Executive Order, Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government. The Order will aim to improve fiscal stewardship and improve citizens’ interactions with the Federal Government. A fact sheet is available here.

Specifically, the Order calls for the below improvements in higher education. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona’s statement is available here.

“For the 1 in 6 Americans, or approximately 45 million people, who are managing their student loans:

  • Direct Loan borrowers will need to navigate only a single repayment portal on StudentAid.gov, so that they can apply for, manage, and repay their loans without having to visit multiple websites and manage multiple sets of credentials for different aspects of their student loans.
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness candidates, including civil servants and active-duty service members, will be able to apply for the program with less paperwork than currently and without having to fill out forms with information they have already provided to the Federal government previously.
  • Students and borrowers can receive relevant recommendations for other benefits and services they may qualify for, like health care subsidies, broadband support, and food assistance, in order to connect them with support to lower additional economic barriers to post-secondary education completion.”

It’s More Than Climate Provisions

The Office of Federal Relations continues to go through the current iteration of the reconciliation package.  In our last post, we highlighted some of the education, research, and climate-related provisions.  Not surprisingly, there are myriad other provisions of interest in the text.

A significant portion of the funds for the USDA would be dedicated to efforts to address challenges posed by wildfires.  For example, $2 billion is slated for efforts to reduce wildfires and $1 billion is earmarked to implement wildfire protection plans.  The plan would also allocate $25 million for burned forest forest rehabilitation and recovery and $150 million would be dedicated to state fire assistance programs.  The EPA section of the bill would create a $150-million community wildfire planning grants program.

The current version of the legislation includes several competitive grant programs to address wildfires/ land forest management as well.  These include, for example, a $250-million proposal to implement climate mitigation/ forest resilience practice among underserved forest landowners as well as a $200-million for a forest health/inventory program.  The bill also calls for the creation of a $775-million program to promote innovate wood products, including for building materials.

Tax

The reconciliation bill includes a number of tax-related provisions of interest to UW and other universities.  A change to the tax code that might be of interest to some public universities is the proposed creation of a public university research infrastructure tax credit in which up to 40 percent of a qualified cash contribution for projects related to the purchase, construction, or improvement of a research infrastructure property would be credited.  The credit would be capped at $50 million per institution per year and the total amount of the credit would be capped at $500 million per year for five years.

The text also proposes to provide a 20-percent credit to institutions of higher education that take on certain categories of environmental justice programs.  The credit would increase to 30 percent for Minority-Serving Institutions.  The total size of the program would be capped at $1 billion per year for 10 years.

The proposal seeks to make changes to the revenue code as it applies to individual students and families as well.  It would remove a Pell Grant award from a tax filer’s gross income for tax purposes.  It would also not count the value of a student/family’s Pell Grant for the purposes of determining the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and the Lifelong Learning Credit.  Another provision would restore the eligibility of those convicted for drug offenses to participate in the AOTC.

Medical/ Health Care Workforce

The current framework also delves into the medical/ health care workforce arena, looking to add significant funds in a number of different fields.  For instance, Sec. 137401 looks to provide scholarships to medical schools to attract 1,000 future medical doctors to serve in rural and/or underserved communities.  The vouchers for scholarships would be aimed at students coming from first generation/ Pell-eligible/underserved backgrounds.

Examples of other medical/ health care workforce-related measures include:  $150 million for children’s hospitals that house graduate medical education; $650 million for the National Health Service Corps; $200 million for the Nurse Corps; $170 million for schools of nursing to grow and diversify nursing workforce in maternal and prenatal health; and, $85 million to health professions schools to address health risks related to climate change.

Immigration-Related Matters

The Congressional Democrats continue to seek to use the reconciliation package to address a number of immigration- and visa-related issues.

As noted in the previous post, the package would extend federal student aid eligibility to DACA- and Temporary Protected Status-eligible students.  It would also enable individuals who entered the country prior to January 1, 2010, to seek green cards.  The framework also proposes to recapture both unused employment- and family-based green cards from prior years and make them available going forward.

However, in its current form, the legislative text would increase a host of fees associated with international students, faculty, and staff, including those on F, J, and H visas, among other visas categories.  We are still assessing the scope and magnitude of these proposed increases.

Next Steps

We continue to go through the text.  It is important to keep in mind that the version that is currently being analyzed most likely will not be the final version that gets taken up for a vote, as negotiations still continue even as this is being written.

Stay tuned.