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. You can contact the OSA government relations team directly if you would like more information on a particular article.

Washington Updates - 2019

FY20 Funding Legislation for U.S. Federal Government Signed into Law

The U.S. Congress passed and the U.S. President signed into law the final FY20 Appropriations bills to fund the U.S. Federal Government in FY20.  View the Budget Tracking chart to see the final FY20 numbers for some science agencies and programs compared to FY19 funding levels, the President’s Budget Request, and the proposed levels for the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.

Posted: 23 December 2019

OSA Signs Letter Supporting the IMPACT Energy Act

OSA signed onto a letter in support of H.R. 3575 and S. 2005 – the IMPACT Energy Act.  This legislation would “establish the IMPACT for Energy Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that will channel private-sector investments to help support the creation, development and commercialization of next generation energy technologies at the Department of Energy (DOE).”  Read the letter.

Posted: 18 November 2019

OSA Signs Letter Support the Graduate Research Fellowship

OSA signed onto a letter is support for the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program.  Read the letter.

Posted: 18 November 2019

OSA Signs Letter to U.S. Agencies on Science and Security

OSA joined over 50 other science societies in a letter to U.S. agencies regarding the need to have an appropriate “balance between an openly collaborative scientific environment and protecting our economic and national security.” 

The letter goes on to say “Our organizations and members are witnessing an escalating concern among U.S. and international scientists that new policies and procedures under consideration to minimize security risks will have the unintended effect of harming the scientific enterprise.”

Read the full letter.

Posted: September 4, 2019

OSA Signs Letter on DOE Office of Science Committees

OSA signed onto a letter led by the Energy Sciences Coalition (ESC) urging the U.S. Department of Energy to “retain the six Federal Advisory Committees (FACs) that currently provide invaluable advice on research priorities and infrastructure investments to the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science.  ESC is concerned that the June 14 Executive Order (EO) 13875 – Evaluating and Improving the Utility of Federal Advisory Committees – could result in the arbitrary and unnecessary termination of several of these important Office of Science FACs.”  Read the full letter.

Posted: August 8, 2019

IMPACT for Energy Act Introduced to Promote Private Sector Innovation

U.S. Sens. Coons (D-DE) and Graham (R-SC) and U.S. Reps. Luján (D-NM) and Wilson (R-SC) have introduced the IMPACT for Energy Act (H.R. 3575 and S. 2005), which establishes a nonprofit foundation within the U.S. Department of Energy to provide a platform for the public sector, industry and private venture capital to work collaboratively.

Luján noted that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), had implemented similar programs with great success. A full press release can be found here.

Posted: 10 July 2019

Small Businesses Partnering with National Labs Act of 2019 Introduced to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives

The Small Businesses Partnering with National Labs Act of 2019 (H.R. 3574 and S.2009) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The bill expands an existing Department of Energy (DOE) pilot program that supplies innovation vouchers to small businesses to gain access to federal research facilities. The act proposes to expand the access to and scope of these vouchers by streamlining the process to obtain a voucher from the DOE.

Posted: 10 July 2019

21st Century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities Act Introduced to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives

The 21st Century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities Act (H.R. 1591 and S. 1299), introduced by Rep. Beatty (D-OH) in the U.S. House of Representatives and by Sen. Harris (D-CA) in the U.S. Senate, amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 by providing federal funds to local education agencies to encourage school-age girls and underrepresented minorities to pursue further education in STEM. These funds take the form of grants issued for a four-year period, each worth $250,000.

Posted: 10 July 2019

Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act Passes U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation

The Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act (S.153 and H.R.425), introduced by Sens. Rubio (R-FL) and Klobuchar (D-MN) in the U.S. Senate and Reps. Dunn (R-FL) and Lamb (D-PA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, aims to enhance the participation of veterans in STEM. The bill requires the National Science Foundation (NSF) to encourage veterans to pursue degrees and careers in STEM fields by widening their eligibility for NSF programs. 

The U.S. House of Representatives passed this bill by a voice vote on 25 February 2019.  The U.S. Senate has not yet considered the bill, though it was passed unanimously by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on 10 July 2019.

Posted: 10 July 2019

Building Blocks of STEM Act Introduced to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives

The Building Blocks of STEM Act (S.737 and H.R.1665), introduced by Reps. Stevens (D-MI) and Baird (R-IN) in the U.S. House of Representatives and by Sens. Rosen (D-NV) and Moore Capito (R-WV) in the U.S. Senate, requires the National Science Foundation (NSF) to increase funding to early childhood science education, particularly enhancing the role of young girls in STEM education. The act proposes several measures including mentors, gender-inclusive after-school and summer computer-science programs and newer learning materials for young students.

Posted: 10 July 2019

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Seeking Nominations for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation Nomination Evaluation Committee

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office requests nomination of individuals for its National Medal of Technology and Innovation Nomination Evaluation Committee. The committee is an advisory body that selects potential candidates for the U.S.’s most prestigious award for technology innovation. Members are appointed for a 12-month term. Nominations are due by 1 August 2019.

More information can be found here.

Posted: 9 July 2019

National Science Foundation Seeks Comments on the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is calling for comments on its information collection activities regarding its Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures (PAPP), which is currently being revised. The collection of this information is reviewed to ensure that there are no excessive reporting burdens and to identify any inequalities, based on race, ethnicity, gender or disability, in its awarding of support. Comments are invited on whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the functioning of the NSF and on ways to enhance and streamline its collection processes. Read the request for comment. Comments are due by 29 July 2019.

Posted: 9 July 2019

Canada Initiative on Diversity and Inclusion

On May 9, the Canadian Government announced a new initiative Dimensions: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Canada which aims at reducing systemic barriers faced by underrepresented or disadvantaged groups within the research fields in Canada. The initiative creates a Dimensions Charter, a document that  promotes the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion, which is open for Canadian institutions to endorse.

Posted: 21 June 2019

U.S. DOE Seeks Comments on Quantum Centers Funding Opportunity

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Notice of Intent and Request for Information: Quantum Information Science Centers.  The department is seeking comments from the community to “gather input about the topic areas, organization, requirements, review criteria, and assessment process” of possible future Quantum Information Science Centers.  Read the Notice of Intent and Request for Information.  Written comments are due by 5 July 2019.

Posted: 29 May 2019

NSF Job Opportunity: Physics Division

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) is hiring a Deputy Division Director for the Division of Physics.  Read More.

Posted: 29 May 2019

U.S. Senate Confirms Dr. Fall for Director of the Office of Science at U.S. Dept. of Energy

On 23 May, the U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Christopher Fall for the Director of the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy.  On 5 March, OSA signed onto a letter asking the U.S. Senate to confirm Dr. Fall.  Read the letter.

Posted: 29 May 2019

OSA Signs Letter Urging Dr. Bookless Nomination

OSA signed a letter urging the swift confirmation of Dr. William Bookless for Principal Deputy Administrator for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).  Read the letter.

Posted: 15 May 2019

OSA Signs Letters Supporting Funding for the National Quantum Initiative Act

OSA signed onto the National Photonics Initiative led letters to the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate Appropriations Committees requesting funding for implementing the National Quantum Initiative Act in the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bills.  View the House letter and the Senate letter.

Posted: 13 May 2019

OSA Signs Letters Supporting FY20 R&D Funding

With U.S. Congress currently working on the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) funding bills, OSA has signed numerous letters supporting funding for research and development in FY20.  Below are a few of the recent letters OSA has signed onto supporting funding for science agencies in FY20:

• National Institute for Standards and Technology
• National Science Foundation
• 
Department of Energy Office of Science
• National Aeronautics and Space Administration
• Multiple Science Agencies

To view the proposed funding levels for the science agencies in the President’s Budget for FY20, view the OSA FY20 Appropriations page.  As the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate introduce their appropriations bills, OSA will update the webpage with the proposed funding levels of each Congressional chamber.

Posted: 13 May 2019

OSA Signs Letters Supporting Raising the Budget Caps

OSA has signed multiple letters in support of raising the U.S. federal budget caps.  See letters below:

Read the letter OSA signed onto led by the Coalition for National Science Funding

Read the letter OSA signed onto led by Research!America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Posted: 13 May 2019

OSA Supports Increase to U.S. Dept. of Energy Science Funding

OSA joined nearly 100 universities, companies, and associations in an open letter to U.S. Congress urging lawmakers to increase the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science’s budget to USD $7 billion in fiscal year 2020, an increase of 4% before inflation above the previous year. Quantum science and technology, microelectronics, machine learning, and matter at extreme conditions are highlighted in the letter as forefront research areas, as are the network of laboratories and facilities and 22,000 PhD-level experts the DOE supports.

Posted: 13 March 2019

OSA Signs Letter Asking U.S. Senate to Confirm of Dr. Fall

OSA signed onto a letter asking the U.S. Senate to confirm Dr. Christopher Fall for the Director of the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy.  Read the letter.

Posted: 8 March 2019

OSA Joins Letter Calling Attention to the Impacts of the US Government Shutdown on the US Scientific Enterprise 

On 11 February, OSA signed onto a group letter sent to the U.S. President calling “attention to the harm done to the US scientific enterprise by the recently ended partial shutdown of the federal government.”  The letter was also signed by numerous Nobel Laureates and scientific societies.  Read the letter.

Posted: 11 February 2019

OSA signs onto comments regarding Title IX Rule Changes

On 30 January 2019, OSA signed onto comments expressing concerns with the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed rule changes to Title IX.  Read the letter.

Posted: 31 January 2019

OSA and the NPI Submits Comments to the Bureau of Industry and Security

OSA submitted comments to the Bureau of Industry and Security regarding the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) BIS 2018-0024, Review of Controls for Certain Emerging Technologies. 

Read the OSA comments.

The National Photonics Initiative (NPI), of which OSA is a cofounder, also submitted comments and OSA signed onto those comments as well. 

Read the NPI comments.

Posted: 11 January 2019

Combatting Sexual Harassment in Science Bill has been Reintroduced in the House

On 4 January, the U.S. House of Representatives Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced H.R. 36, the “Combatting Sexual Harassment in Science Act of 2019.”

Read the press release

Several scientific societies have endorsed this legislation, including The Optical Society (OSA).  Read the quote from OSA’s CEO Elizabeth Rogan.

Posted: 9 January 2019

U.S. Dept. of Energy Office of Science Early Career Research Program Request for Applications

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science is calling for applications for its 2019 Early Career Research Program.  According to the DOE’s announcement, “The funding opportunity for researchers in universities and DOE national laboratories, now in its tenth year, supports the development of individual research programs of outstanding scientists early in their careers and stimulates research careers in the disciplines supported by the DOE Office of Science.”  Read more.

Posted: 9 January 2019

U.S. Dept. of Energy Office of Science FY18 Grant Report

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science released its FY2018 research grant report, which includes a state-by-state summary of the Office of Science’s research grants.

Posted: 9 January 2019

U.S. President Signs National Quantum Initiative Act Into Law

U.S. President Donald Trump signed the National Quantum Initiative Act (H.R. 6227) into law on 21 December. The U.S. Congress previously passed and sent the legislation to the President for enactment on 19 December. The Act establishes a five-year coordinated U.S. civilian research and development effort to significantly advance quantum information science and technology (QIST). In addition to creating new coordination structures across many branches of the U.S. government, the new initiative allows the U.S. National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Department of Energy to create up to five centers of QIST excellence and significantly increase research activity.

OSA, through its work as a cofounder of the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), has been advocating for the creation of a National Quantum Initiative since 2017.

Posted: 3 Janaury 2019

U.S. Senate Confirms OSTP Nominee

On 2 January, the U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier to be the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). OSA, along with other scientific societies, sent letters in support of the nomination.  Read the letter OSA signed onto in August 2018.

Posted: 3 January 2019

OSA Released a Statement on the Partial Shutdown of the U.S. Federal Government

On 2 January, OSA released a statement on the partial shutdown of the U.S. Federal Government. Read the statement.

Posted: 3 January 2019

U.S. Congress Passes the National Quantum Initiative Act

U.S. Congress has passed the bipartisan National Quantum Initiative Act (H.R. 6227).  On 12 December, the U.S. Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent and on 19 December the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 348-11.  The bill will now be sent to the President to be signed into law.

OSA, through its work as a cofounder of the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), has been advocating for the creation of a National Quantum Initiative since 2017. 

Read the OSA News Release

Read the NPI News Release

Read the Optics & Photonics News article: "NQI: It's a Wrap"

Posted: 20 December 2018