Slimmed-Down Competitiveness Bill Introduced with NSF Reauthorization Language
Slimmed-Down Competitiveness Bill Introduced with NSF Reauthorization Language

July 2022

On July 19, the Senate advanced a procedural motion on a 64–34 vote that opened consideration of the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act. While the thrust of the bill is focused on the semiconductor industry, the bill also includes language to reauthorize the National Science Foundation (NSF) and provisions to support the scientific enterprise. The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee released a high-level summary of the science provisions.

Throughout this year, a conference committee worked to resolve differences between the America COMPETES Act, advanced by the House, and the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), advanced by the Senate. The CHIPS Act contains the provisions of the NSF for the Future Act that were in COMPETES, including:

  • Authorization for a range of activities that would support the conduct and dissemination of STEM education research on pre-K–12 through graduate education
  • National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Decadal Survey of STEM Education Research in pre-K–12 education
  • Funding for research on STEM education and workforce needs
  • Grants focused on research on the graduate education system and outcomes of various interventions and policies
  • Graduate education funding study that would examine the role NSF has had in supporting graduate student education
  • Topics for new data fields in National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) surveys, such as the skilled technical workforce, working conditions and work-life balance, and harassment and discrimination
  • Programs at NSF that work toward broadening participation in STEM, such as NSF INCLUDES and the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program
  • Activities to promote data sharing, including through NSF support of data repositories and mechanisms to encourage research reproducibility
  • Language to incorporate social, behavioral, and economic science in NSF activities and review panels

The CHIPS Act expands on language in the America COMPETES Act to encourage research and dissemination to increase the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.

Additional provisions in the CHIPS Act include:

  • Establishment of the National Secure Data Service within NCSES
  • Authorizing language for the Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) Directorate at NSF, which would include as one of its activities scaling innovation in pre-K–12 STEM education in establishing multidisciplinary Centers for Transformative Education Research and Translation
  • The Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act, which would authorize $250 million in two fiscal years for a two-year pilot program at NSF to support early-career scientists to conduct research
  • The Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act, which as one component that would enable NSF to conduct research to better understand the factors contributing to, and consequences of, sexual harassment, and examine best practices to reduce the incidence and negative consequences of such harassment
  • The STEM Opportunities Act, which includes provisions on the collection of demographic data on federal research grant recipients and collection of data on faculty demographics
  • The Rural STEM Education Research Act, which contains provisions on preparing rural STEM educators and broadening participation

As Highlights goes to press, the Senate is debating the CHIPS Act before final vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a Dear Colleague letter on July 20 noting her support for the bill.

“We applaud the Senate for taking this important first step in moving forward comprehensive legislation to reauthorize the National Science Foundation,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “We encourage Congress to pass this bill to enhance the U.S. scientific enterprise.”