Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog
- Posted byon May 15, 2013 at 10:00 AM EDT
America’s small information technology firms are some of the most innovative in the world. They are nimble, creative and can get the job done. And thanks to a new online government platform, it is getting easier for them to address some of the Federal Government’s most pressing IT needs. It’s a win-win: Small technology companies get easier access to the Federal Government’s nearly $77 billion information technology supply chain, providing a potentially critical revenue stream as they build their operations. And government agencies get to work with innovative small firms with solutions that can help make government agencies more efficient and streamlined.
The catalyst for these connections is an exciting new pilot project called RFP-EZ. And the results we are seeing from this program highlight what is possible when you unleash the power of American entrepreneurs.
RFP-EZ is a new and easy way for companies to learn about and compete for government contracts – in particular, small companies that lack the experience or administrative support generally needed to take full advantage of the Government’s Request for Proposals (RFP) process, the means by which many government contract offerings are presented to the business community. The RFP-EZ platform was developed jointly by Federal innovators working in the SBA and private-sector entrepreneurs serving temporary stints in the Federal Government through the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, launched by the U.S Chief Technology Officer and Chief Information Officer team last year. Sharing their private- and public-sector insights, the team developed RFP-EZ as a simplified platform aimed at opening up the Government marketplace to a wider range of companies and saving taxpayer money.
Applying agile development principles, the Fellows team designed RFP-EZ over a six-month period, publishing the platform’s code openly on GitHub. The team then launched the pilot by posting five relatively simple website development and database contract offerings, four of which were also announced via the standard government portal, FedBizOps. On a per-project basis, bids received through RFP-EZ were consistently lower than those received through FedBizOps—19% to 41% lower, and over 30% lower on average. Bids made through RFP-EZ also showed less overall variation. In addition, during the pilot period, RFP-EZ attracted more than 270 businesses that until now had never approached the world of Federal contracting.
- Posted byon May 14, 2013 at 2:35 PM EDT
On May 16th, the White House is kicking off “We the Geeks,” a new series of Google+ Hangouts to highlight the future of science, technology, and innovation here in the United States. Topics such as commercial space exploration, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, turning science fiction to science fact, and others will be discussed with Administration officials and key private sector contributors.
The first "We the Geeks" Hangout will focus on Grand Challenges, ambitious goals on a national or global scale that capture the imagination and demand advances in innovation and breakthroughs in science and technology. Grand Challenges are an important element of President Obama’s Strategy for American Innovation. On April 2nd, the President called on companies, research universities, foundations, and philanthropists to join with him in identifying and pursuing the Grand Challenges of the 21st century.
- Posted byon May 10, 2013 at 4:50 PM EDT
Yesterday, President Obama visited Austin, Texas, to kick off his Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour. At Capital Factory, a local start-up incubator, he met with technology entrepreneurs and innovative companies that are helping grow our economy and create jobs by building new products and services.
One of those companies, Stormpulse, uses freely available government weather data to help businesses protect themselves and their assets from potentially hazardous weather. Stormpulse CEO Matt Wensing has said that “open government data is one of the giants on whose shoulders we stand. Easier access to government data means growing companies like ours can offer significant value to citizens and enterprises.”
President Barack Obama watches CEO Matt Wensing demonstrate Stormpulse during a tour of Capital Factory in Austin, Texas, May 9, 2013. Capital Factory founder Josh Baer and Todd Park, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, watch at right. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
- Posted byon May 10, 2013 at 3:19 PM EDT
Today, the Obama Administration released the first-ever National Strategy for the Arctic Region—an approach to protecting national security, promoting environmental stewardship, supporting native cultures, providing for appropriate economic development, and strengthening international cooperation in the Arctic region. The Strategy, which was developed by an interagency team of Administration experts with significant input from the State of Alaska and Alaska Native organizations, articulates several key objectives for Federal activity in the Arctic over the next decade—including increased scientific understanding of the region.
The Strategy is guided by the Nation’s interest in safeguarding peace and stability in the Arctic; ensuring that resource management decisions are based on the best available information; strengthening and forging public-private and international partnerships; and coordinating Arctic-based efforts with Alaska Natives. It also serves to focus our national efforts in the Arctic at a time when the region is undergoing rapid environmental change.
Fast-melting ice on land and at sea has important implications for natural Arctic environments, human well-being, national security, transportation, and economic development. For instance, in addition to contributing to further global warming, diminishing sea-ice changes the distribution of species found in regional ocean waters, which in turn can have profound effects on local economies. Waning sea-ice also changes ocean circulation patterns and navigation pathways, with significant impacts for commercial and military navigation.
- Posted byon May 10, 2013 at 12:56 PM EDT
In Filament Games’ "Reach For The Sun," students grow a sunflower from a seed into a full plant by “doing” photosynthesis. (Image by Filament Games)
“I’m calling for investments in educational technology that will help create… educational software that’s as compelling as the best video game. I want you guys to be stuck on a video game that’s teaching you something other than just blowing something up.” - President Obama, March 2011
Today, the U.S. Department of Education announced the final winners of this year’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract awards—funds that are reserved for entrepreneurial small businesses using cutting-edge R&D to develop commercially viable technologies to solve tough problems. And there’s something that may surprise you about the winning contracts: More than half—or 12 in all—are for games and game-related projects, more than in any previous year. That says a lot about the increasingly creative field of educational games, and the growing base of evidence indicating that games can be an important and effective component of our strategy to prepare a highly skilled 21st century American workforce.
The SBIR program at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the Department of Education’s research division, provides up to $1.05 million to small businesses for the R&D of commercially viable education technology products. The program holds an annual competition and awards funds in several phases: Phase I awards, up to $150,000 for 6 months, allow for the development of a prototype and research to demonstrate its functionality and feasibility; and Phase II awards, up to $900,000 for 2 years, are for full-scale development of the product, iterative research to refine it, and a pilot study to demonstrate its usability, feasibility, and promise. A small number of Fast Track awards are made each year for funds to cover work in both Phase I and Phase II.
- Posted byon May 9, 2013 at 1:28 PM EDT
Today, in conjunction with a series of landmark steps announced by the Obama Administration to unleash troves of useful data from the vaults of government, the interagency US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) launched a new online tool that promises to accelerate research relating to climate change and human health—the Metadata Access Tool for Climate and Health, or “MATCH.”
The Administration announcements made today include an Executive Order signed by the President declaring that information is a valuable national resource and strategic asset, and a new government-wide Open Data Policy requiring that, going forward, data generated by the government shall be made available in open, machine-readable formats. The move will make troves of previously inaccessible or unmanageable data more readily available to entrepreneurs, researchers, and others who can use open data as fuel for innovation, businesses and new services and tools.
MATCH is one such tool, driven by open data, which could open the door for new scientific insights in the public health and climate science communities. It is a publicly accessible digital platform for searching and integrating metadata—standardized contextual information—extracted from more than 9,000 health, environment, and climate-science datasets held by six Federal agencies.
Screenshot of the Metadata Access Tool for Climate and Health (MATCH), the US Global Change Research Program's online tool for researchers that offers centralized access to metadata ‐ standardized contextual information ‐ about thousands of government-held datasets related to health, the environment, and climate-science.
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