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Science and Technology Policy Priorities Emphasize Big Data and Cybersecurity

A memorandum from the heads of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) outlines the Administration’s multi-agency science and technology priorities that should guide FY2014 budget submissions from executive departments and agencies.  “Scientific discovery, technological breakthroughs, and innovation are the primary engines for expanding the frontiers of human knowledge and are vital for responding to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century,” writes the directors of the OMB and OSTP.

The multi-agency priorities include:  advanced manufacturing; clean energy; global climate change; R&D for informed policy-making and management; information technology research and development; nanotechnology; biological Innovation; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education;  and innovation and commercialization.

A few items of particular interest to EDUCAUSE members are “efforts to enhance the accessibility and usefulness of data and tools for decision support” (as part of the priority for R&D for informed policy-making and management) and “investments that address the challenges of, and tap the opportunities afforded by, the Big Data revolution – the fast-growing volume of large and complex collections of digital data – to advance agency missions and further scientific discovery and innovation” and “investments in data analytics and management” (as part of the priority for information technology R&D).  The memorandum also directs agencies to give priority to research guided by the Trustworthy Cyberspace:  Strategic Plan for Cybersecurity R&D Programs to develop technologies that can protect our systems against current and future cyber attacks.

A hearing was held in June by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology to examine the priorities and effectiveness of the nation's science policies.  Chairman Ralph Hall (R-Tx) expressed concern about administration's priorities, including the "larger focus on applied research at the expense of basic scientific research . . ."  Dr. John Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), said in his testimony, "While OSTP has had a long and strong history as the epicenter of White House science and technology policymaking and as a key source of sound advice to the President and other Administration officials on S&T-related issues, its responsibilities have become even more demanding in this Administration because of the magnitude of the economic challenges facing the country and the strong historical and projected role of science, technology, and innovation in economic growth and job creation."


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