Congress Passes Short-term Continuing Resolution

To avoid a federal government shutdown on October 1, 2022, Congress passed H.R. 6833, the Continuing Appropriations and Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2023. This continuing resolution (CR) would fund the government through December 16, 2022. The CR also includes disaster relief and additional relief for Ukraine. As mentioned in previous Washington Insights & Highlights newsletters, the House of Representatives passed six out of twelve fiscal year 2023 appropriations bills over the summer. The Senate Appropriations Committee only introduced their appropriations bills during the August recess.

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According to a press statement by House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), “This continuing resolution reflects bipartisan, bicameral negotiations and, most importantly, it affords Congress time to complete its work on fiscal year 2023.” As expected, the Biden Administration stated its support for the bill in a recently issued Statement of Administration Policy. While CGS supports this CR, CGS will advocate for the completion of the fiscal year 2023 appropriations process before the end of the year and sine die of the 117th Congress. A breakdown of FY23 funding for CGS programs of interest can be found here.

CGS and Science Community Call for $8.1 Billion for DOE-Office of Science

The Energy Sciences Coalition recently sent a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to encourage an appropriation of at least $8.1 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The letter states, “As the nation’s primary sponsor of physical sciences research, DOE Office of Science plays a vital role in the American scientific ecosystem and is a proven model for success in discovery and innovation. The DOE Office of Science sponsors research programs vital to American prosperity and security at research universities and national laboratories and helps maintain the U.S. pipeline of science and engineering talent.”

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The DOE Office of Science has seven major program offices that fund core research that benefit graduate students. They also administer the Computational Sciences Graduate Fellowship through the Advanced Scientific Computing Research program office and the Graduate Student Research Program through the Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists.

UPDATE: Student Debt Relief Plan

Earlier this week, the Department of Education released updated FAQs for the Administration’s Student Debt Relief Plan. The FAQs can be found here. The Department also issued a press release on the cost estimate for the debt relief plan. According to the Biden Administration the one-time debt relief plan will cost $30 billion over the next 10 years.

Dr. Arati Prabhakar Confirmed as OSTP Director

By a vote of 56-40, the Senate confirmed Dr. Arati Prabhakar to be the next Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Dr. Prabhakar is the first woman and person of color to be confirmed by the Senate to lead the OSTP. The OSTP advises the president on federal research development as well as presidential initiatives related to science and technology. In the past, Dr. Prabhakar served as Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the Clinton Administration and then Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the Obama Administration.

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Deputy Assistant to the President Dr. Alondra Nelson praised Dr. Prabhakar’s confirmation in a statement, saying “Over the course of her career, Dr. Prabhakar’s leadership has propelled solutions to some of the most pressing problems facing American society. At the helm of NIST and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), she demonstrated a rare ability to work across silos and sectors to forge consensus and deliver important accomplishments. As we move forward with our agenda of transformative investments in scientific research and development, an equitable STEM ecosystem, climate and energy solutions, competitiveness, and technological and economic security, as a result of the Biden-Harris Administration’s landmark legislative achievements, we are fortunate to now benefit from her deep experience.”

The confirmation of Dr. Prabhakar comes on the heels of the release of OSTP’s updated guidance on public access. This guidance directs federal agencies to make the results of taxpayer-supported research freely and immediately available to the public. A detailed OSTP memo on the guidance and report were also recently released.

Analysis of Earned Doctorates by American Academy of Arts and Sciences

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences released new analysis of the Survey of Earned Doctorates. The survey is an annual census conducted since 1957 of individuals receiving a research doctorate at an accredited U.S. institution. Some key findings in the analysis include:

  • Approximately two-thirds of new humanities and arts Ph.D.’s carried no or minimal debt out of their doctoral studies in 2020.
  • Nearly 58 percent of new humanities and arts Ph.D.’s had no debt related to their graduate education, similar to what it had been in 2004.
  • From 2015 to 2020, the distribution of graduate debt in every academic field drifted toward increases in both the share of those with no debt and the share with debt of more than $90,000
  • Averaging across 2015–2020, 55 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native and Black/African American and students receiving a Ph.D. in the humanities or arts completed their Ph.D. programs with more than $30,000 in graduate education debt.

Request for Information: Designation as Eligible Institutions Under Titles III, V, and VII Programs

The Department of Education recently released a federal register notice requesting  information collected for the Secretary to determine eligibility for funding under Titles III, V, and VII of the Higher Education Act. Programs authorized in these titles that impact graduate education include Promoting Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans, Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institutions, Strengthening Master’s Degree Programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need.

The application package to request designation as an eligible institution under Title III, V, and VII programs can be found here. Public comments regarding the proposed information collection request should be sent on or before October 28, 2022.