Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog
- Posted byon February 26, 2013 at 9:25 AM EDT
Today, the Obama Administration’s National Science and Technology Council released A Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid: A Progress Report—an update highlighting the Administration’s most recent achievements to make the Nation’s electric grid stronger, smarter, and cleaner than ever before.
In his State of the Union address this month, President Obama recognized that “no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy.” As part of his plan to grow the economy and create middle class jobs, the President called for continued investment in infrastructure, including “self-healing power grids.” In the same address, he also warned against ignoring the “overwhelming judgment of science” that the threat of climate change is real and demands attention. These two calls to action—each independently important to our country’s future—intersect at the Nation’s electric system.
To date, the Obama Administration has taken a number of important steps to help the Nation prevent and recover quickly from power outages, including by working closely with industry partners to upgrade the electric system with “smart grid” technologies that can detect and prevent outages, improve system efficiency, and better integrate clean energy sources. While we’ve come a long way, recent extreme weather events have reinforced the reality that our work is not done. Many Americans suffered power loss during the spate of strong storms, droughts, and record high temperatures of the past year—all of which, to varying degrees, threatened the operation of the Nation’s electric grid. We can do better.
- Posted byon February 22, 2013 at 1:04 PM EDT
The Obama Administration is committed to the proposition that citizens deserve easy access to the results of scientific research their tax dollars have paid for. That’s why, in a policy memorandum released today, OSTP Director John Holdren has directed Federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication and requiring researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research. OSTP has been looking into this issue for some time, soliciting broad public input on multiple occasions and convening an interagency working group to develop a policy. The final policy reflects substantial inputs from scientists and scientific organizations, publishers, members of Congress, and other members of the public—over 65 thousand of whom recently signed a We the People petition asking for expanded public access to the results of taxpayer-funded research.
To see the new policy memorandum, please visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/ostp_public_access_memo_2013.pdf
To see Dr. Holdren’s response to the We the People petition, please visit: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/increasing-public-access-results-scientific-research
Michael Stebbins is Assistant Director for Biotechnology at OSTP
- Posted byon February 21, 2013 at 10:25 AM EDT
OSTP today released for public review and comment a proposed policy aimed at maximizing the benefits of life sciences research while minimizing the odds that the results of such research will be misused. The proposed policy, posted on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Science Safety Security (S3) Website, was crafted collaboratively by several Federal agencies and is now open for public comment for 60 days.
The proposed policy responds to concerns that some important and otherwise beneficial avenues of life science research have the potential to generate information or capacities that, in the wrong hands, could be misused for harmful purposes.
Specifically, the newly proposed policy focuses on the very small fraction of studies with the highest risk of potential misuse, known as dual use research of concern (DURC). For oversight purposes, DURC is defined as “Life sciences research that, based on current understanding, can be reasonably anticipated to provide knowledge, information, products or technology that could be directly misapplied to pose a significant threat with broad potential consequences to public health and safety, agricultural crops and other plants, animals, the environment, materiel or national security.”
- Posted byon February 19, 2013 at 2:04 PM EDT
Today, the Administration’s National Science and Technology Council released a five-year Arctic Research Plan that outlines key areas of study the Federal government will undertake to better understand and predict environmental changes in the Arctic. The Plan was developed by a team of experts representing 14 Federal agencies, based on input from collaborators including the Alaska Governor’s Office, indigenous Arctic communities, local organizations, and universities. Seven research areas are highlighted in the Plan as both important to the development of national policies and well-poised to benefit from interagency collaboration, including among them: regional climate models, human health studies, and adaptation tools for communities.
Environmental changes in the Arctic—such as rapidly-melting ice on land and at sea—are not only having profound impacts on local Arctic populations but are also affecting more distant communities and businesses that depend on Arctic resources to thrive. Among an array of effects, melting land-ice contributes to rising sea levels, and will have costly implications for communities, businesses, and infrastructure located on coasts. Diminishing sea-ice changes the composition and distribution of species found in regional ocean waters and, as a result, forces communities that depend on those resources for food to alter their harvest practices and/or their diets. Waning sea ice accelerates global warming and alters circulation in the atmosphere and oceans in ways that change storm patterns in other parts of the world.
Open Call to Innovators: Apply to present at G-8 International Conference on Open Data for AgriculturePosted byon February 15, 2013 at 4:38 PM EDT
In an exciting opportunity, the G-8 is inviting innovators to apply to present ideas that demonstrate how open data can be unleashed to increase food security at the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture on April 29-30, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
Open data is being used by innovators and entrepreneurs around the world to accelerate development, whether it be tracking election transparency in Kenya or providing essential information to rural farmers in Uganda. The G-8 conference will convene policy makers, thought leaders, food security stakeholders, and data experts to discuss the role of public, agriculturally-relevant data in increasing food security and to build a strategy to spur innovation by making agriculture data more accessible. As part of the conference, selected applicants will be invited to showcase innovative uses of open data for food security in either a Lightning Presentation (a 3-5 minute, image-rich presentation on the first day of the conference) or in the Exhibit Hall (an image-rich exhibit on display throughout the two-day conference).
- Posted byon February 13, 2013 at 4:33 PM EDT
Students from Montgomery Blair High School’s Science and Math Magnet program literally chill after SoSTEM
SoSTEM marked an unprecedented opportunity for DC-area kids from local schools and organizations to grill Administration officials and others working to advance the American innovation agenda. The event was moderated by the President’s science and technology advisor—OSTP Director John P. Holdren—and featured an all-star lineup of panelists including US CTO Todd Park, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, and three innovators who were special guests of the First Lady during last night’s State of the Union address: NASA Mars Curiosity Flight Director Bobak Ferdowsi (best known as “Mohawk Guy”), 2012 Intel Science Competition winner Jack Andraka, and iTriage CEO Peter Hudson.
In opening remarks, Dr. Holdren emphasized the key role of STEM in addressing grand challenges and growing the economy. He also reminded the student-filled audience that as the “patent-holders, app-developers, engineers, and explorers” of tomorrow, they are absolutely essential to achieving the President’s vision for keeping America strong.
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