.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will convene a hearing titled, “One Year Later: The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act,” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. The hearing will examine the implementation of science and technology policy and program updates enacted under the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, and will specifically evaluate progress made by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to implement the act.
- Dr. France Córdova, Director, National Science Foundation
- Dr. Walter Copan, Undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology, Department of Commerce; Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology
*Witness list subject to change
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
As we are well aware, the economy, public health and national security all depend on advancements in science as the fuel for innovation. The U.S. has led the world for a century in development of new technologies and scientific achievement.
From satellite communications to cutting edge fields like gene editing, the advancement of science has depended on a healthy investment in research by the federal government.
But recently, we’ve been losing ground to overseas competitors. The National Science Board just released their report on the state of the U.S. science enterprise, and their findings are chilling.
China is now the second largest investor in R&D – a key driver of global competitiveness. And China’s R&D investment continues to grow at a much higher pace than any other nation. At this rate, China may soon eclipse the U.S., and we will lose the competitive advantage that has made us the most powerful economy in the world.
These findings echo what we have heard time and again from the National Academies of Science and industry leaders like Norm Augustine, who first sounded the alarm 10 years ago.
Yet, in stark contrast to the administration’s rhetoric about American greatness, their proposed FY 2018 budget slashed National Science Foundation spending by eleven percent and NIST by twenty-three percent. By contrast, the version of the American Innovation and Competiveness Act that this committee reported unanimously recommended a four percent increase for these agencies.
Part of the problem is that the president has yet to name a science advisor. That means that when decisions like the budget or leaving the Paris climate accords are under consideration, there is no science voice for in the room.
Just as troubling are the many reports of interference in science by this administration. Nearly a year ago, I introduced legislation to ensure that science was protected from political interference.
Unfortunately, it looks like my fears were not unfounded. Columbia Law School has documented over 100 cases of censorship and other meddling in science over the last year. At the EPA, a political appointee is now reviewing grant solicitations. Some scientists have been told that they cannot talk about their research and others have been moved out of science jobs. This is unacceptable. And given the stakes, we cannot abide such interference and suppression.
Luckily, at the NSF and NIST, we have highly qualified leadership. Dr. Cordova and Dr. Copan, you are at the front lines of protecting scientists and their research from politics and I urge you to remain vigilant.
The bottom line is science should be a nonpartisan issue. So, I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about what’s happened since the passage of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act and how else this committee can improve the federal science enterprise.
Thank you, Senator Gardner. I want to recognize your leadership, as well as Chairman Thune’s and Senator Peters’, in passing into law the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act just one year ago.
I was proud to cosponsor this legislation that resulted from a true consensus-building effort.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman John Thune
Thank you Senator Gardner for presiding over today’s hearing on the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act or AICA, which we introduced and enacted last year along with Senators Peters and Nelson. I am pleased that NSF, NIST, and OSTP have made real progress in implementing the bill.
Drs. Cordova and Copan, I also want to thank you for being here today. I believe it is the first time each of you has testified as Director before our Committee.
AICA represents the most comprehensive science and technology policy legislation enacted since the America COMPETES Acts of 2007 and 2010. Like those Acts, AICA reauthorized and updated policies at NSF, NIST, OSTP, and other federal science agencies.
Specifically, AICA sought to maximize basic research, advance public-private partnerships, enhance agency oversight, promote STEM education, and increase research commercialization.
In my home state of South Dakota, AICA provided further support for the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment and the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility at the Sanford Underground Research Facility by tasking OSTP with new responsibilities related to the prioritization and coordination of high energy physics research and international science and technology partnerships.
AICA also updated the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research or EPSCoR, which assists South Dakota in maintaining a self-sustaining and competitive academic research enterprise.
The Act required updates based on recommendations of previous EPSCoR reviews to maximize the impact of federal support for building a competitive research infrastructure across all states.
Again, thank you both for the progress that you have made in implementing AICA. I do have a few implementation questions for the witnesses today.
Witness Panel 1
Dr. Walter CopanUnder Secretary of Commercefor Standards and Technology and Director National Institute of Standards and Technology United States Department of Commerce
Dr. France CórdovaDirectorNational Science Foundation