Having trouble viewing this email? View it in your web browser

AIBS Public Policy Report, Volume 23, Issue 2, January 18, 2022

  • Action Alert: Ask Your Members of Congress to Fund Science, Complete FY 2022 Appropriations
  • White House Releases Scientific Integrity Report
  • OSTP Issues Guidance on Research Security
  • Input Requested on the Outline of the Fifth National Climate Assessment
  • Interior Requests Information, Announces Listening Sessions on Conservation Database
  • New in BioScience: Scientists from Minority-Serving Institutions Underrepresented in Grant Peer Review
  • Deadline Approaching: 2022 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award
  • Short Takes
    • Higher Education Enrollment Drops Nationwide
    • Webinar on Biodiversity for the Public, Policymakers
    • Workshop on Using Biology for Communication, Information Transmission
    • NASEM Workshop: Cutting Edge Scientific Capabilities for Biological Detection
  • From the Federal Register

The AIBS Public Policy Report is distributed broadly by email every two weeks. Any interested party may self-subscribe to receive these free reports by email.

With proper attribution to AIBS, all material from these reports may be reproduced or forwarded. AIBS staff appreciates receiving copies of materials used. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact the AIBS Director of Public Policy, Jyotsna Pandey, at 202-628-1500 x 225.


Action Alert: Ask Your Members of Congress to Fund Science, Complete FY 2022 Appropriations

Congress has yet to pass legislation providing fiscal year (FY) 2022 funding for science. Government agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health, have been operating under FY 2021 funding levels since FY 2022 began on October 1, 2021.

More than three months into FY 2022, Congress has passed two continuing resolutions to avert government shutdowns, but this stopgap approach expires on February 18 and stifles the government’s ability to initiate new programs.

NSF is the primary federal funding source for fundamental biological research at our nation’s universities and colleges. The agency provides approximately 67 percent of extramural federal support for non-medical, fundamental biological and environmental research at academic institutions.

If funded at $10 billion, NSF can accelerate progress on its 10 Big Ideas, expand support for early career researchers, and create new interdisciplinary research programs, such as the Integrative Research in Biology program. This investment will sustain core research and education programs that are vital to U.S. competitiveness, economic growth, and national security.

Please show your support for science by asking your members of Congress to complete work on FY 2022 appropriations bills and provide the NSF with at least $10 billion in FY 2022.  Interested individuals can send a message to their lawmakers from the AIBS Legislative Action Center.


White House Releases Scientific Integrity Report

According to a new report by the White Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), government agencies need to strengthen policies that protect the integrity of the science used in decision-making.

The report entitled, “Protecting the Integrity of Government Science,” was prepared by the Scientific Integrity Fast-Track Action Committee, an interagency panel of 57 representatives from 29 federal agencies charged with conducting a review of the effectiveness of agency scientific integrity policies as laid out in President Biden’s 2021 Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking.  The report is informed by “extensive public engagement and broad-based agency-level expertise” and is intended to assist agencies in creating, updating, and implementing scientific integrity policies and practices.  

“This report is a comprehensive Federal assessment of what’s needed to protect science – and scientists and technologists – within the U.S. government, and a clear government-wide policy statement calling for decision-making at all levels to be informed by science without interference,” stated OSTP Director Dr. Eric Lander.

The report builds on the principles of scientific integrity identified by the Obama Administration in 2009 and makes five additional recommendations to improve scientific integrity in Federal agencies.  It recommends that all federal agencies, including the ones that don’t fund or conduct scientific research, should develop, implement, and periodically update scientific integrity policies.  The report emphasizes that such policies should apply to all agency employees, contractors, and political appointees who “manage, communicate, or use science, not just to scientists and engineers who conduct research.”

The OSTP Task Force recommends standardizing policies and practices across agencies, including adopting a harmonized definition of scientific integrity, and expanding scientific-integrity training to include scientists, agency leadership, political appointees, and contractors who receive agency grants.  They suggest establishing a formal interagency scientific integrity council, which would be charged to “adopt and share best practices, optimize resources, share experiences and innovative approaches, and align activities across agencies.”  Such a council would also provide a mechanism to investigate violations that need to be addressed outside the individual agency involved, including political interference allegations involving high-ranking government officials.  “Violations involving high-level officials are the most problematic and difficult to address,” the report states.

Notably, the report recommends that scientific integrity policies be updated to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility and to address emerging issues such as artificial intelligence and machine learning as well as citizen science and community-engaged research with Federal involvement.

As its next step, the Task Force plans to develop a framework to provide guidance to agencies based on the findings and suggestions outlined in the report.  The framework will include “assessment criteria that OSTP and agencies can use to inform, review, and improve the design and implementation of scientific integrity policies.”  It will also include a standardized definition of scientific integrity to be adopted across agencies.


OSTP Issues Guidance on Research Security

On January 4, 2022, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released new guidance on improving U.S. research security.  The directive calls on agencies to draft uniform policies for scientists to disclose foreign sources of research funding.

The OSTP directive, developed through its National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), lays out implementation guidance for a January 2021 memorandum on national security issued by the Trump Administration to strengthen protections of U.S. government-supported research and development against foreign government interference, while “maintaining an open environment to foster research discoveries.”

The guidance instructs agencies to coordinate together, through the NSTC, to develop standardized research security policies and disclosure requirements across agencies “to reduce uncertainty and establish clear, persistent guidelines for researchers to follow.”  It encourages the use of tools such as digital persistent identifiers (DPI) to simplify disclosure and compliance.  It also asks agencies to establish clear guidelines for determining penalties for failure to appropriately disclose requested information. 

Notably, the document lays out implementation guidance for establishing mechanisms to share information across agencies about both violations and potential violations.  In addition, it requires research organizations receiving more than $50 million annually in federal research funds to maintain a “research security program” that incorporates elements of cybersecurity, research security training, foreign travel security, and export control training. 

As the next step, OSTP Director Dr. Eric Lander has ordered federal research agencies “to work together within the next 120 days to develop model grant application forms and instructions that can be used (and adapted where required) by any federal research funding agency.”  He added that the goal is “for the government to clearly describe what it needs to know and for researchers to be able to report the same information in the same way to the greatest extent possible, regardless of which funding agency they’re applying to.”


Input Requested on the Outline of the Fifth National Climate Assessment

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USCRP) is seeking public feedback on the proposed themes and framework of the Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5)—a scientific report on climate change that is congressionally mandated to be prepared every four years by scientists from 13 federal agencies.

The USCRP is requesting public comment on the annotated outlines of each of the 31 chapters of the NCA5, in particular on the scope and framing of chapter's proposed topic areas.  The input received on proposed themes will inform the development of draft chapters by the author teams.

Comments from the public will be accepted electronically via http://www.globalchange.gov/notices until February 20, 2022.  Instructions for submitting comments are available on the website.


Interior Requests Information, Announces Listening Sessions on Conservation Database

The Department of the Interior, on behalf of an interagency working group co-led with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is soliciting comments to inform the development of a conservation database, called the “American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas,” to track progress on the Biden Administration’s conservation, stewardship, and restoration efforts.

President Biden's America the Beautiful plan, which was released in 2021, called for conserving 30 percent of the nation's lands and waters by 2030 with the goal of addressing climate change, preserving biodiversity, and improving access to nature for underserved communities.  The report also called for the development of an “accessible, updated, and comprehensive” conservation tool through interagency collaboration to “develop and track a clear baseline of information on lands and waters that are conserved or restored.”

Interior is requesting input on how this database “can best serve as a useful tool for the public and how it should reflect a continuum of conservation actions in the America the Beautiful initiative, recognizing that many uses of lands and waters can be consistent with the long-term health of natural systems and contribute to addressing climate change and environmental injustices.” Written comments can be submitted until March 7, 2022.

In addition, Interior announced three virtual public listening sessions to receive comments on the Atlas.  The first one was held on January 13, and the next two will be held on January 19 at 6:00 – 7:30 PM ET and January 21 at 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM ET.  Interested individuals who would like to share verbal comments during these sessions are required to register in advance.


New in BioScience: Scientists from Minority-Serving Institutions Underrepresented in Grant Peer Review

While numerous studies have described the funding discrepancies faced by scientists at minority-serving institutions (MSIs), there is a relative paucity of information available about MSI-based scientists’ participation in grant review, the process used by research funders to allocate their budgets. A new article from the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) sheds further light on grant review and the factors that underlie scientists’ ability to participate in it.

Learn more.  


Deadline Approaching: 2022 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award

Are you a science graduate student looking to make a difference in science policy and funding? The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is now accepting applications for the 2022 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award. This award recognizes graduate students in the biological sciences who are demonstrating an interest and aptitude for working at the intersection of science and policy.

Recipients of the AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award receive:

  • A trip to Washington, DC, to participate in the AIBS Congressional Visits Day, an annual event where scientists meet with lawmakers to advocate for federal investment in the biological sciences, with a primary focus on the National Science Foundation. The event will be held over three days in the spring of 2022 (likely in March or April). Domestic travel and hotel expenses are paid for the winners.
  • Policy and communications training, including information on the legislative process and trends in federal science funding, and how to engage with policymakers and the news media.
  • Meetings with congressional policymakers to discuss the importance of federal investment in the biological sciences.
  • A one-year subscription to the journal BioScience.

The 2022 award is open to U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents enrolled in a graduate degree program in the biological sciences, science education, or a closely allied field. Applicants should have a demonstrated interest in and commitment to science policy and/or science education policy. Prior recipients, including Honorable Mentions, are not eligible for the award.

Applications are due by 05:00 PM Eastern Time on January 19, 2022. Learn more about how to apply.


Short Takes

  • According to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, total undergraduate and graduate student enrollment in the US dropped by 2.7 percent in fall 2021 compared with fall 2020.  Among undergraduate majors at four-year colleges, biology, business, health, and engineering saw the sharpest enrollment declines in fall 2021.  Overall, enrollment has dropped by 5.1 percent since spring 2020, which means that nearly 1 million fewer students have enrolled in higher education since the pandemic began.  Read more.
  • The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) are holding a public briefing webinar about a new booklet on biodiversity for the public and policy makers on January 27, 2022 at 3:00-4:00 PM EST.  The booklet, “Biodiversity at Risk: Today’s Choices Matter,” produced by an international committee of experts, provides a publicly accessible overview of the many dimensions of biodiversity and why it’s vital to the health of all life on the planet. It examines the causes of biodiversity loss and presents actions that can be taken from the individual to the global level to stop this decline.  Register here.
  • The convergence of synthetic biology, genetic engineering, computational algorithms, nanomaterials, and other biotechnological-related research fields has brought about new and emerging capabilities for biological-based communication and information transmission.  Join the National Academies’ Standing Committee on Biotechnology Capabilities and National Security Needs on Thursday, January 20 from 1:00-2:30pm ET and Friday, January 21 from 2:30-4:00pm ET, for a workshop exploring these topics.
  • Recent advances in the life sciences and biotechnologies have led to new and emerging paradigms for biological detection.  Join the National Academies on Thursday, January 20 from 2:30-4:00pm ET and Friday, January 21 from 1:00-2:30pm ET for a workshop, “Cutting Edge Scientific Capabilities for Biological Detection,” exploring these biotechnologies and critical issues related to their development and use.

From the Federal Register

The following items appeared in the Federal Register from January 3 to 14, 2022. 




Environmental Protection Agency

Health and Human Services



The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a non-profit 501(c)3 public charity organization that advances the biological sciences for the benefit of science and society. AIBS works with like-minded organizations, funding agencies, and political entities to promote the use of science to inform decision-making. The organization does this by providing peer-reviewed or vetted information about the biology field and profession and by catalyzing action through building the capacity and the leadership of the community to address matters of common concern.

Founded in 1947 as a part of the National Academy of Sciences, AIBS became an independent, member-governed organization in the 1950s. Today, AIBS has over 100 member organizations and has a Public Policy Office in Washington, DC. Its staff members work to achieve its mission by publishing the peer-reviewed journal BioScience, by providing scientific peer-review and advisory services to government agencies and other clients, and by collaborating with scientific organizations to advance public policy, education, and the public understanding of science.

Website: www.aibs.org.

Unsubscribe or Manage Your Preferences