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Pandemic Preparedness and Climate Change Are Among Federal Research Priorities For 2023

White House tells agencies to consider these and the other R&D priorities in developing their budget proposals. 

Pandemic readiness, climate change and equity are some of the research and development priorities the White House told agencies on Friday they should include in their budget proposals for fiscal 2023.

Although the budget process for fiscal 2022 is not complete yet, the White House is already starting to think about fiscal 2023. The first step in the federal budget process is that departments and agencies work on and then submit their proposals to the Office of Management and Budget. These proposals help formulate the president’s request and are submitted up to 18 months before the fiscal year for the budget begins. 

“This moment in American history, as we face unprecedented challenges but also unprecedented opportunities, is a moment for the federal government to take action to refresh and reinvigorate our nation’s science and technology enterprise,” wrote Shalanda Young, acting director of OMB, and Eric Lander, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, in a memo to all heads of executive departments and agencies. “Scientific discovery, technological breakthroughs, and innovation are the engines for expanding the frontiers of human knowledge and are vital for responding to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.” 

The priority areas they outlined were: pandemic readiness and prevention; tackling climate change; emerging technologies; equity; national security; and economic resilience. These priorities reflect the focuses the Biden administration has been championing since coming into office in January. 

In the section on pandemics, the memo says agencies should build on previous research and development investments on vaccine development and manufacturing, early warning systems and therapeutics. 

Agencies should use their investments “to strengthen the public health system, with special attention to rural areas, underserved communities, and veterans and military health systems,” wrote Young and Lander. They “should build the data infrastructure, manufacturing and delivery capabilities, and workforce needed to support rapid and scalable public health response—both domestically and globally.” 

Some of the priorities for climate change research and development are: measuring and monitoring reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, including the efficacy of federal programs aimed at doing this; increasing the public’s access to climate-related information and data; and prioritizing “the procurement of promising innovative climate technologies exiting the federal R&D pipeline to increase their marketability.”

White House officials said agencies should emphasize diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility with all of their research and developments as well as support STEM education, such as at federal and federally-funded institutions and formal and informal learning communities, like nonprofit programs. 

Additionally, “to build a trustworthy and engaged U.S. science and technology enterprise, agencies should prioritize making federally funded R&D: open to the public in a findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable way,” said the memo. This would be “grounded in assessment of ethical, legal, and societal implications; and free from improper political interference—all while minimizing administrative burden”

In other budget related news, also on Friday, OMB released the fiscal 2022 mid-session review, which updates the administration’s budget estimate to incorporate economic and technical changes since the proposal was released in May

Biden has still yet to name a nominee to be the permanent head of OMB, following Neera Tanden’s withdrawal in March.