Washington Update

President Signs the CHIPS and Science Act

By: Ellen Kuo
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Researchers and the general scientific and engineering community are rejoicing. Congressional efforts before the August recess resulted in making the science provisions of the bipartisan, bicameral Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors Act of 2022 (CHIPS) and Science Act a reality. CHIPS was incorporated in H.R. 4346, ‘‘An Act making appropriations for the Legislative Branch for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2022, and for other purposes.’’ Research and innovation provisions are in Division B of H.R 4346. The bill enacted language to authorize and support the Department of Energy Office of Science, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and its Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships, broaden STEM participation, enhance research security, strengthen fundamental research, improve research infrastructure, and combat sex-based harassment. President Biden signed the bill into law on August 9.

In May 2022, FASEB provided a letter to House and Senate conferees as they worked toward reconciling the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA, Senate originated) and America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength  Act (America COMPETES, House originated) bills. USICA and COMPETES were merged to form the CHIPS and Science Act. The final legislation incorporated nearly 99 percent of the provisions FASEB recommended, such as the inclusion of the U.S. Department of Energy Science for the Future Act authorizing $50.3 billion over five years. CHIPS also authorized $550 million per year from FY 2023 to FY 2027 for science lab infrastructure.

The bill also calls for broadening participation in science to increase the STEM workforce and improve its diversity with expansions through partnerships. For example, in the National Science Foundation for the Future portion of the bill, the NSF director is to appoint a chief diversity officer to provide advice on policy and coordination with respect to NSF matters related to diversity and inclusion, including ensuring geographic diversity of NSF programs. Sec.10313 of the bill, titled Graduate STEM Education, requires funding proposals to include a mentoring plan for graduate students, to foster career exploration for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, and individual development plans.

In addition, FASEB supported codifying NSF INCLUDES, now known as the “Eddie Bernice Johnson Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discovers in Engineering and Science Initiative,” which is in the final CHIPS bill. INCLUDES will broaden participation of historically underrepresented populations in STEM education programs and careers by requiring the NSF director to make awards on a competitive basis to institutions of higher education or nonprofit organizations to carry out national initiatives developing partnerships to build and scale up practices in broadening STEM participation from these populations.

FASEB also supported authorizing doubling funding for NSF over a period of five years. This was achieved for an authorized total of $81 billion that will cover activities such as research and related activities, STEM education, and major research equipment.

As for FASEB’s endorsement of the enactment of the STEM Opportunities Act, H.R. 204, in January 2021, it too was incorporated in CHIPS. This portion of the bill is focused on promoting research on the trajectories for STEM participation of minorities, disabled, older learners, veterans, rural, poor and tribal populations and raising awareness of the barriers limiting recruitment and retention of these groups into STEM research. It requires the development of guidance to federal research agencies regarding establishing policies to provide no-cost extensions and flexibility in award start time to recipients of federal grants with caregiving responsibilities. Each federal research agency is also to collect comprehensive demographic data on recipients of federal awards and report this data to NSF for summarization and publication.

Lastly, FASEB's endorsement of the Supporting Early-Career Researcher Act was achieved in CHIPS. NSF is authorized to establish a two-year pilot program to support highly qualified early-career scientists to conduct research for up to two years at the institution of their choice. An authorization of appropriations of $250 million for each of FY 2023 and 2024 is available.