On 21 July, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a joint memorandum providing guidance to federal agencies on the formulation of science and technology priorities in the fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget. The memo directs agencies to prioritize funding in six areas: 1) promoting sustainable economic growth and job creation; 2) defeating the most dangerous diseases and achieving better health outcomes for all while reducing health care costs; 3) moving toward a clean energy future to reduce dependence on energy imports while curbing greenhouse gas emissions; 4) understanding, adapting to, and mitigating the impacts of global climate change; 5) managing the competing demands on land, fresh water, and the oceans for the production of food, fiber, biofuels, and ecosystem services based on sustainability and biodiversity; and 6) developing the technologies to protect our troops, citizens, and national interests.

Among these priorities are several in the areas of energy, environment, health, and agriculture, consistent with the National Research Council’s report on 21st Century Biology. The need to support the foundation of a new “bio-economy” through advancements in biotechnology and design of biological systems was also referenced. Additionally, agencies are directed to invest in high-risk, high-reward research, support multidisciplinary research, and engage in international scientific collaboration.

The memo also includes a provision on federal science collections: “Agencies should implement strategies for increasing the benefits for science and society derived from scientific collections by following the recommendations in the report by the Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections and efforts outlined in the National R&D Strategy for Microbial Forensics.”

Ocean observation was also highlighted, with a goal to “develop and deploy integrated ocean observing capabilities to support ecosystems-based management, including under conditions of changing climate and multiple stressors (e.g. oil spills).”


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