Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog

  • More Big (Data) Ideas

    On March 17, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Data & Society Research Institute, and New York University co-hosted the second in a series of public events focused on big data that OSTP is co-hosting with academic institutions across the country. The full-day workshop focused on the social, cultural, and ethical dimensions of big data. The day concluded with a public plenary session, featuring an active discussion with a panel of experts covering a range of issues including privacy, the use of genetic data, educational applications, and financial inclusion. The webcast of the public session, as well as materials from the day’s workshops will be available here

    We will continue to build on the ideas developed in the first two workshops at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New York University at a third event on April 1st in Berkeley, California. This workshop will be co-hosted by OSTP and the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley and the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, and will focus on the values and governance issues raised by big data technologies.  You can find more information about the workshop and the webcast here

    Nicole Wong is U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy

  • We the Geeks: Women Role Models

    In order for the United States to continue to lead the world in innovation and reap the health, security, and economic benefits offered by cutting-edge discoveries in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), we must engage the Nation’s full talent pool in these growing fields, including America’s girls and women. 

    On Thursday, March 20th at 1:00pm ET, the White House will host another episode of “We the Geeks”, this time focused on “Women Role Models”. Tune in to this Google+ Hangout to hear from women and girl STEM leaders as they share their stories and advice to inspire the next generation of young women to discover their inner geeks and become the inventors and leaders of tomorrow. You’ll hear from an all-star line-up, including:  

    Viewers can join the conversation by asking questions on Twitter using #WeTheGeeks. And you can view the hangout Thursday at 1pm ET by visiting

  • Seeking Public Input: More Research, Less Paperwork for Federal Researchers

    Today, OSTP issued a request for information (RFI) seeking public input on ways to reduce the burdens on Federal scientists as they apply for funding from other Federal agencies.

    Researchers across our Nation’s Federal laboratories are doing important work in an array of scientific domains—from biomedicine, robotics, national security, and epidemiology, to Earth observations, ocean science, and nanotechnology. It’s our job to help ensure that Federal interagency research funding is awarded to the best and brightest researcher applicants, while minimizing unnecessary paper work and unclear requirements. That means doing what we can to reduce the administrative burden on Federal researchers as they navigate cumbersome applications and awards for competitive grants, contracts, or other funding vehicles provided by a Federal agency other than their own.

    OSTP will use the information provided through the RFI to determine whether there are particular policy steps that may be taken better enable U.S. Government scientists and engineers to compete for funding from research programs within other agencies.

    For information and instructions on how to submit input, please check out the RFI and visit OSTP’s “Share Your Input” page. Comments are due by April 14, 2014.

    Reed Skaggs is Assistant Director for Defense Programs at OSTP.

  • From Lab to Market: Accelerating Research Breakthroughs and Economic Growth

    Earlier this month, President Obama announced his 2015 budget, a roadmap for accelerating economic growth, expanding opportunity for all Americans and ensuring fiscal responsibility. The budget supports the President’s Management Agenda to deliver a 21st century government that is more effective, efficient, and supportive of economic growth. One key element of the President’s Management Agenda is accelerating the transfer of Federally funded research from the laboratory to the commercial marketplace – a “Lab-to-Market” agenda.

    The Federal Government spends more than $130 billion on research and development (R&D) each year, conducted primarily at universities and Federal laboratories.  This investment supports fundamental research that expands the frontiers of human knowledge, and yields extraordinary long-term economic impact through the creation of new knowledge and ultimately new industries – often in unexpected ways.

    At the same time, some research discoveries show immediate potential for commercial products and services, and the President is committed to accelerating these promising technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace, based on closer collaboration with industry. The fruits of this Lab-to-Market process, also known as “Technology Transfer” or “R&D commercialization,” are everywhere – for example, Federal laboratories developed much of the battery technology that makes electric vehicles possible, university researchers helped bring to market a breakthrough drug that effectively cures certain forms of leukemia, and Google was born as a Federally funded university spin-off company.

  • Expanding Opportunity through Open Educational Resources

    Using advanced technology to dramatically expand the quality and reach of education has long been a key priority for the Obama Administration.

    In December 2013, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) issued a report exploring the potential of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to expand access to higher education opportunities. Last month, the President announced a $2B down payment, and another $750M in private-sector commitments to deliver on the President’s ConnectEd initiative, which will connect 99% of American K-12 students to broadband by 2017 at no cost to American taxpayers.

    This week, we are happy to be joining with educators, students, and technologists worldwide to recognize and celebrate Open Education Week.

    Open Educational Resources (“OER”) are educational resources that are released with copyright licenses allowing for their free use, continuous improvement, and modification by others. The world is moving fast, and OER enables educators and students to access, customize, and remix high-quality course materials reflecting the latest understanding of the world and materials that incorporate state of the art teaching methods – adding their own insights along the way. OER is not a silver bullet solution to the many challenges that teachers, students and schools face. But it is a tool increasingly being used, for example by players like edX and the Kahn Academy, to improve learning outcomes and create scalable platforms for sharing educational resources that reach millions of students worldwide.

    Launched at MIT in 2001, OER became a global movement in 2007 when thousands of educators around the globe endorsed the Cape Town Declaration on Open Educational Resources. Another major milestone came in 2011, when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and then-Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis unveiled the four-year, $2B Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAACCCT). It was the first Federal program to leverage OER to support the development of a new generation of affordable, post-secondary educational programs that can be completed in two years or less to prepare students for careers in emerging and expanding industries.

  • Calling on the Crowd to Help Increase Patent Quality

    Ed. Note: This article is posted in full on the USPTO website and is authored by Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee.

    Protecting and promoting our ideas-driven economy is essential to economic growth. By issuing patents for novel and non-obvious inventions, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) plays a critical role in ensuring that America’s intellectual property system continues to be a catalyst for American companies and entrepreneurs to innovate.

    The White House and the General Services Administration recently announced the next round of the Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) program. As part of this effort, USPTO is seeking a fellow to help in carrying out the agency’s goal of “Using the Crowd to Improve Patent Quality,” specifically by ensuring that patent examiners have the best prior art before them during examination.