Washington Updates

Public Policy

Washington Updates

The OSA Public Policy staff is pleased to provide you with Washington Updates, where you will find up-to-date information on legislation, events, and other activities happening in Washington, D.C. that affect the optics and photonics community. We welcome your feedback on any of these issues and invite you to use the comment section included with each post. You can also contact the OSA government relations team directly if you'd like more information on a particular article.

Optics & Photonics Committee Report Released

On April 17, the Fast-Track Action Committee on Optics and Photonics (FTAC-OP) released the report Building a Brighter Future with Optics and Photonics.  The report includes seven recommendations split into two categories: research opportunities and capability opportunities.
The FTAC-OP, a subcommittee of the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council, was formed to build off of the findings of the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) report Optics & Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation.  The FTAC-OP Committee includes representatives from the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Energy, Defense, and Health and Human Services as well as the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Posted: April 18, 2014

Air Force Will Not Be Moving the Office of Scientific Research

On April 10, 2014, in a hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) asked the Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, about the proposed relocation of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR).  Secretary James said in response “the evaluation is completed and it’s staying put.”   The Air Force had been considering moving the AFOSR from Arlington, Virginia to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. 

New Director of the National Science Foundation

On March 12, 2014, the Senate confirmed the appointment of Dr. France Cordova as the director of the National Science Foundation (NSF).  She was sworn in on March 31, 2014.  Dr. Cordova was nominated by President Barack Obama to fill the director position after Subra Suresh stepped down from the position in March 2013.

President Obama Releases FY15 Budget

On March 4, 2014, President Barack Obama released his fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget request.  His budget includes $135.4 billion for federal research and development (R&D). Highlights from his budget request include:

  • $7.3 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • $680 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) laboratories
  • $5.1 billion for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science
  • $11.5 billion for the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Science and Technology program
  • $2.9 billion for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education initiatives

The President’s budget, echoing his State of the Union address, proposes four additional National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) institutes for 2014 with the goal of creating 45 institutes over 10 years.
A bipartisan budget deal struck in December 2013 has already established a baseline spending level for FY15, allowing Congress to begin preparing the FY15 appropriations bills.  With Congress already beginning the appropriations process and the current fiscal year ending September 30th, now is the perfect time to let your members of Congress know the importance of Federal science research and education funding and how it impacts your work.  If you would like to send a letter to your representatives regarding science research and education funding, you can use OSA’s easy online Legislative Action Center to send a letter to Congress.   

Congress Passes Bipartisan Funding Package for FY14

Congress passed a bipartisan omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2014 this week, which was based on the budget agreed to in the December 2013 bipartisan budget deal.   The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2014 wraps in all 12 of the funding bills for fiscal year 2014. 
Funding highlights from the bill include:

  • NSF will be funded at $7.2 billion, a decrease of $82 million below the FY2013 enacted level.
  • NIST will be funded at $850 million, which is $41 million above the FY2013 enacted level.
  • DOE science research will be funded at $5.1 billion, an increase of $195 million above the fiscal year 2013 enacted level.
  • DOD Research will be funded at $63.0 billion which is $6.9 billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level.

The bill passed through both chambers with bipartisan votes with the House passing it by 359 to 67, and the Senate passing it by a vote of 72 to 26.  President Obama has indicated he will sign the bill.

Posted: January 22, 2014


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