National Science Foundation EPSCoR Program
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OBJECTIVE: Continue to grow the NSF EPSCoR program
- Currently, any state that received 0.75 percent or less of NSF funding calculated for a three year period, is eligible for NSF EPSCoR. At this time, 24 states and 3 jurisdictions are eligible: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam.
- Currently, these 24 states and 3 jurisdictions receive about 10 percent of NSF research funding.
- EPSCoR assists NSF in its statutory function “to strengthen research and education in science and engineering throughout the United States and to avoid undue concentration of such research and education,” using three strategic investment tools: Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) awards, Co-Funding, and Outreach/Workshops
- EPSCoR states have growing research bases that should be expanded and enhanced. But additional investments in basic infrastructure – people, scientific equipment, and related support – are badly needed. NSF has a key role to play since it provides three-fourths of all basic scientific research funding for colleges and universities.
- Recent data shows that the United States is now tenth among OECD nations in over-all R&D investment as a percentage of GDP. As the US loses competitive edge, countries like China are increasing their research investments in order to stimulate economic growth. The US should shore up its scientific enterprise to continue the advantage it has held as an engine of innovation that generates new discoveries and stimulates job growth. No individual state or region has a monopoly on research talent. The U.S. needs the talents and expertise of students and faculty in all states, in order to meet its own needs and compete globally. The predominant driver of GDP growth over the past half-century has been scientific and technological advancement.
- EPSCoR states are major participants in many of the areas begging for attention. For example, they educate large numbers of engineers; they are major energy producing states; they lead in oceans policy and research, and they are in the forefront of disciplines related to climate, weather and natural resource issues.
- A strong research base is important to every state in order to provide sound education and research opportunities for its students (most students attend college within 50 miles of home), a trained workforce, and support for both existing and emerging businesses, especially in the high technology area. Studies show that high technology businesses tend to cluster where they have a trained workforce and strong research capability and support.
- Today, all the research institutions in more than half the states still do not fully participate in the $36.8 billion federal R&D investments in academia. This means they have a limited opportunity to reap the benefits of federal research investments.
- Funding in FY 2019 will catalyze key research themes, including national research priorities within and among EPSCoR jurisdiction that empower knowledge generation, broaden participation in science and engineering, and strengthen the research opportunities available to early career faculty.
FY2019 NSF Research Funding Highlights
- The House Appropriations Committee (HAC) and Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) approved versions of the Commerce-Justice-Science bill that would provide NSF with its highest funding level to date.
- The House included $8.2 billion for NSF, $408 million more than FY2018 and $500 million above the Trump Administration’s request. The SAC provided $8.1 billion.
- The SAC increased funding for NSF EPSCoR by more than $6 million over current year funding and noted that the Committee underscores the importance of the EPSCoR program in spurring innovation and strengthening the research capabilities of institutions that are historically underserved by Federal research and development funding. Further, the SAC stated that “NSF shall make every effort to achieve efficiencies to ensure that no more than 5 percent of the amounts provided for the program are used for administration and other overhead costs.”
- NSF’s Research & Related Activities account was increased by 3.5 percent and the SAC included report language supporting NSF’s 10 Big Ideas as a “focusing tool,” while directing the agency to maintain core research at no less than FY2017 levels.
- The Education Directorate would see a smaller increase of 1.4 percent with funding for NSF Scholarships in STEM, the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program, and Graduate Research Fellowships at current year funding levels.