August 20, 2007

America COMPETES Act to Fund Federal STEM Programs

The America COMPETES Act (America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act), H.R. 2272, was signed into law by the President on August 9, 2007. The Act, passed by both chambers of Congress just before the August recess, is the legislative response to the recommendations contained in the National Academies Rising Above the Gathering Storm report. The Act authorizes various programs at the National Science Foundation and the Departments of Energy, Commerce, and Education intended to strengthen education and research in the United States related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The Act provides over $40 billion total for fiscal years 2008 to 2010 for STEM programs across federal agencies. Some highlights of the package include:
  • $22 billion for the National Science Foundation, putting NSF on a path to double in budget approximately seven years, increasing support for a variety of programs including the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, CAREER grants for young faculty, and a new program of seed grants.
  • Nearly $17 billion for Energy Department programs, keeping the Office of Science on a seven-year doubling path, and establishing an Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E), patterned after DARPA, to support high-risk, high-reward research.
  • A new Technology Innovation Program (TIP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, replacing the Advanced Technology Program but allowing university participation.
Also STEM-related and on August 9, the National Science Board approved the “National Action Plan for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education” report. NSB is asking for comments by August 30.