01/10/17 – The Ripon Advance

Bipartisan and bicameral legislation originally introduced by U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) that reforms federal policies to encourage scientific innovation and economic growth was signed into law.

The first major update to federal research and technology policy to originate in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in more than a decade, Gardner said the legislative package would “ensure that America stays at the forefront of cutting-edge research and development.”

The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA), S. 3084, boosts basic research opportunities, cuts through red tape for researchers and encourages entrepreneurship by scientists. It also promotes private-sector innovation by encouraging greater participation in federal prize competitions.

“A strong, bipartisan effort, this legislation is the result of nearly two years of work to gather input from the scientific community, universities and interested stakeholders,” Gardner said.

Promoting diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is another key aspect of the legislation. A working group will be formed to study how to include more women and underrepresented individuals in STEM fields.

Additionally, the new law will increase oversight of taxpayer-funded research by requiring public notices of grants to justify a project’s expenditures.

House Science, Space and Technology Committee members advanced nine bills that were included in AICA, including U.S. Reps. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) and John Moolenaar (R-MI).

“I want to congratulate House Research and Technology Subcommittee Chair Barbara Comstock and Vice Chair John Moolenaar, as well as Oversight Subcommittee Chair Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) and Vice Chair Darin LaHood (R-IL), on enacting the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act into law,” U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the chairman of the committee, said.

“This important piece of legislation was the last bill passed in the 114th Congress, and is the result of a four-year effort to strengthen and reform agencies and programs that administer basic research. AICA increases U.S. competitiveness while creating jobs for hardworking Americans and will help to spur new businesses and industries,” he said.

Reforms to National Science Foundation research facility construction and National Institute of Standards and Technology programs and campus security, Smith added, are key elements in the bill that will help taxpayer-funded research make more of an impact.

“On the whole, Americans will see improved accountability and transparency with a reduction in administrative burden on researchers as a result of this legislative effort,” Smith said.