Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog

  • Accelerating Green Technology Transfer to Impact American Lives

    Since the start of the Obama Administration, being a responsible steward of our planet is a role that President Obama has embraced through action and example. Accelerated development and deployment of green technology is a critical part of supporting sustainable growth, and the Administration has gone to great lengths to bring cutting-edge green technology from development stages to real-world application. Whether by cutting pollution, unleashing troves of climate data to empower American communities to prepare for the future, or leading international efforts to combat global climate change, agencies across the Administration are taking bold actions to grow the economy while leaving a green legacy for future generations.

    As President Obama said in his State of the Union address earlier this year, “We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow.  This is an edge America cannot surrender.  Federally-funded research helped lead to the ideas and inventions behind Google and smartphones.” Some of the most exciting breakthroughs in green technology are likewise getting their start in our federal labs on a daily basis, including:

    • A game-changing technology under development by the U.S. Navy that creates fuel from seawater by recovering carbon dioxide and hydrogen and converting them into a liquid hydrocarbon fuel. Earlier this month, an internal combustion powered model aircraft took the first ever flight fueled by seawater as carbon feedstock;
    • An ultrafast DC charging system that can charge an electric vehicle in 15 minutes, developed by Argonne National Laboratory. The government-developed charging system can add 60 to 80 miles of range to an electric vehicle on a single, 15-minute charge, and has the potential to be accessed through smartgrid and wireless charging communication;
    • A breakthrough geothermal heat pump developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in partnership with the company ClimateMaster, which can help save money and energy by increasing efficiency;
    • A new technology to remove hazardous heavy metals from water streams, developed through a partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency;
    • A prize-winning process from the National Energy Technology Laboratory that improves the capture of carbon dioxide from power plants while reducing the cost.  

  • SmartAmerica Challenge: Harnessing the Power of the Internet of Things

    Today the Internet mostly connects people to information. But what kinds of new products and services might be possible if it also connected people and public service agencies to vehicles, medical devices, climate sensors, traffic monitors, water systems, lighting, and more?

    To help answer that question, Geoff Mulligan and Sokwoo Rhee, two energetic Presidential Innovation Fellows at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), launched the SmartAmerica Challenge in December 2013.  The goal of the challenge was to engage the public and private sectors to explore the tangible benefits of the Internet of Things.   With more than 24 teams comprised of more than 100 companies and other organizations, the Smart America Challenge participants have created projects that demonstrate the economic and societal benefits of the internet of things.

    Today the White House hosted an event with SmartAmerica Challenge teams from across the country.  At the event, select teams demonstrated their projects and the value of the Internet of Things. As Assistant to the President for Science and Technology John Holdren noted at the event, the federal government has invested nearly $300 million in research related to the Internet of Things over past five years.  The Internet of Things holds tremendous potential to create jobs and grow new businesses. 

    Tomorrow, our colleagues at NIST will host the SmartAmerica Expo at the Washington DC Convention Center.  The Expo will feature keynote remarks by senior government leaders including U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and General Services Administrator Dan Tangherlini, as well as live demonstrations by 24 SmartAmerica technical teams.  The projects will showcase ways that the Internet of Things can improve transportation, emergency services, health care, security, energy conservation, and manufacturing.

    To learn more and to register to attend the SmartAmerica Expo, click here.

    Richard Voyles is Assistant Director, Robotics and Cyber-Physical Systems at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

  • Federal Agencies and the Opportunities and Challenges of Big Data

    On June 19, the Obama Administration will continue the conversation on big data as we co-host our fourth big data conference, this time with the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Massive Data Institute.  The conference, “Improving Government Performance in the Era of Big Data; Opportunities and Challenges for Federal Agencies”,  will build on prior workshops at MIT, NYU, and Berkeley, and continue to engage both subject matter experts and the public in a national discussion about the future of data innovation and policy.

    Drawing from the recent White House working group report, Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values, this event will focus on the opportunities and challenges posed by Federal agencies’ use of data, best practices for sharing data within and between agencies and other partners, and measures the government may use to ensure the protection of privacy and civil liberties in a big data environment.

    You can find more information about the workshop and the webcast here.

    We hope you will join us!

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

  • OSTP’s Own Open Government Plan

    The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) today released its 2014 Open Government Plan. The OSTP plan highlights three flagship efforts as well as the team’s ongoing work to embed the open government principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration into its activities.

    OSTP advises the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs. The work of the office includes policy efforts encompassing science, environment, energy, national security, technology, and innovation. This plan builds off of the 2010 and 2012 Open Government Plans, updating progress on past initiatives and adding new subject areas based on 2014 guidance.

    Agencies began releasing biennial Open Government Plans in 2010, with direction from the 2009 Open Government Directive. These plans serve as a roadmap for agency openness efforts, explaining existing practices and announcing new endeavors to be completed over the coming two years. Agencies build these plans in consultation with civil society stakeholders and the general public. Open government is a vital component of the President’s Management Agenda and our overall effort to ensure the government is expanding economic growth and opportunity for all Americans.

    OSTP’s 2014 flagship efforts include:

    • Access to Scientific Collections: OSTP is leading agencies in developing policies that will improve the management of and access to scientific collections that agencies own or support. Scientific collections are assemblies of physical objects that are valuable for research and education—including drilling cores from the ocean floor and glaciers, seeds, space rocks, cells, mineral samples, fossils, and more. Agency policies will help make scientific collections and information about scientific collections more transparent and accessible in the coming years.
    • We the Geeks: We the Geeks Google+ Hangouts feature informal conversations with experts to highlight the future of science, technology, and innovation in the United States. Participants can join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #WeTheGeeks and asking questions of the presenters throughout the hangout.
    • “All Hands on Deck” on STEM Education: OSTP is helping lead President Obama’s commitment to an “all-hands-on-deck approach” to providing students with skills they need to excel in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). In support of this goal, OSTP is bringing together government, industry, non-profits, philanthropy, and others to expand STEM education engagement and awareness through events like the annual White House Science Fair and the upcoming White House Maker Faire.

    OSTP looks forward to implementing the 2014 Open Government Plan over the coming two years to continue building on its strong tradition of transparency, participation, and collaboration—with and for the American people.

    Nick Sinai is the U.S. Deputy CTO and Corinna Zarek is the Senior Advisor for Open Government.

  • Promoting Innovation in Civic Engagement: Celebrating Community-Led Participatory Budgeting

    On his first day in office, President Obama made clear his commitment to engaging the American people, both by making government more transparent and accountable, but also through recognizing that government does not have all the answers.  The President directed his Administration to find new ways of tapping the knowledge and experience of ordinary Americans, noting “the way to solve the problems of our time, as one nation, is by involving the American people in shaping the policies that affect their lives”. 

    In the second U.S. Open Government National Action Plan released last year, the Administration committed to collaborating with partners that promote participatory budgeting — a civic innovation that enables community members to help decide how to spend part of a public budget. 

    To further this commitment, the Office of Science and Technology Policy recently hosted representatives from communities across the country at the White House.  Attendees shared their experiences with participatory budgeting, learned about work already underway across the country, and brainstormed new ways to expand outreach and engagement, improve city processes, and create projects that can help transform neighborhoods.  

  • A New Strategy to Drive Down the "Soft Costs" of Solar

    Earlier this month, President Obama announced that more than 300 organizations in the public and private sector have made commitments to advance the deployment of solar power and invest in energy efficiency. At the same time, recognizing that solar power is an increasingly important building block toward a clean energy future, the White House offered a behind the scenes look at its own rooftop solar panels, which are generating clean renewable energy from the sun, helping to lower the energy bill of our nation’s most historic home while also serving as a symbol that American solar energy technology is ready for millions of other homeowners across the country today.

    Over the course of the Obama Administration, we have increased U.S. solar electricity generation by ten-fold and, in the last year alone added more than 23,600 new jobs in solar.