Aug 31, 2014

OMB’s FY16 budget priorities turn focus to big data, Earth observations, STEM and more

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While Congress continues to wrangle over funding provisions for fiscal year 2015, which begins Oct. 1, the White House Office of Management and Budget isn’t wasting any time looking ahead to fiscal 2016.

The agency has already issued a memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies for FY 2016 which lays out a number of science and technology priorities, including heightened emphasis on using big data to advance agency missions and a push for further scientific discovery and innovation, much like in 2015.

With the increased focus on big data, the 2016 memo said agencies should strategize around privacy and protections of personal data through the agency’s strategic plan for cybersecurity.

“Agencies should coordinate with each other and with the private sector to promote innovation in high-performance computing to support national security, scientific discovery and economic competitiveness,” the memo said.

New this year in the science and technology priorities is a focus on civil earth observations, following the administration’s recently released National Plan for Civil Earth Observations. The White House said interagency coordination is required to ensure that all areas of Earth observation are covered and encourages agencies to align their Earth observations with the national plan in the 2016 budget process.

“Earth observation data serve as the foundation for services that protect human life, property, the economy and national security,” the memo states.

The 2016 budget highlights several other scientific and technologic endeavors:

  • Clean energy – “In improving the nation’s ability to understand, assess, predict and respond to global change, agencies should prioritize activities that strengthen the scientific basis for, as well as the development and use of, actionable science, information and related tools needed to prepare for and reduce climate related risks.”
  • STEM education – “Agencies should also ensure that programs are designed to identify and effectively meet the needs of those we’re trying to serve – students, teachers, schools, districts and post-secondary institutions. The 2016 budget proposals should align STEM education investments with the strategic plan.”
  • National security intelligence – “In order to provide cutting-edge capabilities to meet current and future mission requirements, national security agencies need to support a balanced portfolio of basic and applied research and advanced technology development. In particular, priority should be given to investments to develop capabilities in hypersonics, countering weapons of mass destruction, accelerated training techniques, and handling large data sets for national-security mission requirements.”

President Obama unveiled his fiscal year 2015 budget March 4. However, the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 requires the President to submit his budget requests to Congress by the first Monday in February. That deadline has been amended several times since the initial 1921 passage of the Act.

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