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Science with a Side of CHIPS

By PAA Web posted 10-25-2022 10:51

  

Among the handful of major legislative accomplishments in the nearly completed 117th Congress was the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which was signed into law by President Biden on August 9. Implementation of the Act is underway, with the newly-appointed CHIPS & Science Act Steering Council having convened on October 6. The Council includes the Secretaries of Commerce and the Treasury, as well as the Directors of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Office of Management and Budget, along with senior officials from the Departments of Defense, Labor, Energy and State. [Find the White House summary of the Council meeting here.]

The Council meeting was focused on the “CHIPS” section of the Act, which aims to boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing capacity and address supply chain issues. NSF is tasked with advancing STEM training and education to ensure that the U.S. will have adequate ranks of skilled workers for the manufacturing side as well as trained engineers on the innovation side. About $200 million is being directed to this purpose.

NSF logo onbuildingThe “Science” section of the Act contains the reauthorization of NSF--which gives Congress authority to double the NSF budget over five years--codifies the establishment of the new TIP Directorate at NSF (Technology, Innovation and Partnerships). If Congress comes through with appropriations that approach the levels now authorized by law, all research directorates at NSF— including the Social, Behavioral and Economics (SBE) directorate—could see robust increases in the coming years. However, some of any additional funding will be allocated for the TIP Directorate.

Although the TIP directorate is intended to catalyze translational and “use-inspired” research, which can skew toward, for example, engineering solutions, it is conceived as a cross-cutting directorate that will engage with all of the research directorates, including SBE. At a recent briefing to representatives of the NSF stakeholder community Dr. Erwin Gianchandrani, the Assistant Director for TIP, affirmed that social sciences should play a role in some of the initiatives planned for TIP. However, much of the funding emanating from TIP will be pushed out not through traditional solicitations but rather through multi-sector partnerships.

Part of the TIP Directorate’s mission is to identify and support new approaches to major issues that broadly affect American society. Among the topics that Gianchandrani indicated will be priorities for TIP are two that are particularly relevant to the work of population scientists—namely, climate change and equity. However, thus far, there are few specifics on the scope or timing of funding opportunities related to these issues. PAA and APC’s government affairs staff will continue to track implementation closely to identify opportunities to engage with the new TIP directorate.


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