View all text of Chapter 16 [§ 1861 - § 1887]

§ 1862p–9. Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research
(a) FindingsThe Congress finds that—
(1) the National Science Foundation Act of 1950 [42 U.S.C. 1861 et seq.] stated, “it shall be an objective of the Foundation to strengthen research and education in the sciences and engineering, including independent research by individuals, throughout the United States, and to avoid undue concentration of such research and education”;
(2) National Science Foundation funding remains highly concentrated, with 28 States and jurisdictions, taken together, receiving only about 12 percent of all National Science Foundation research funding;
(3) each of the States described in paragraph (2) receives only a fraction of 1 percent of the Foundation’s research dollars each year;
(5) the EPSCoR structure requires each participating State to develop a science and technology plan suited to State and local research, education, and economic interests and objectives;
(6) EPSCoR has been credited with advancing the research competitiveness of participating States, improving awareness of science, promoting policies that link scientific investment and economic growth, and encouraging partnerships between government, industry, and academia;
(7) EPSCoR proposals are evaluated through a rigorous and competitive merit-review process to ensure that awarded research and development efforts meet high scientific standards; and
(8) according to the National Academy of Sciences, EPSCoR has strengthened the national research infrastructure and enhanced the educational opportunities needed to develop the science and engineering workforce.
(b) Continuation of program

The Director shall continue to carry out EPSCoR, with the objective of helping the eligible States to develop the research infrastructure that will make them more competitive for Foundation and other Federal research funding. The program shall continue to increase as the National Science Foundation funding increases.

(c) Coordination of EPSCoR and similar Federal programs
(1) Another finding

The Congress finds that a number of Federal agencies have programs, such as EPSCoR and the National Institutes of Health Institutional Development Award program, designed to increase the capacity for and quality of science and technology research and training at academic institutions in States that historically have received relatively little Federal research and development funding.

(2) Coordination requiredThe EPSCoR Interagency Coordinating Committee, chaired by the National Science Foundation, shall—
(A) coordinate each EPSCoR to maximize the impact of Federal support for building competitive research infrastructure, and in order to achieve an integrated Federal effort;
(B) coordinate agency objectives with State and institutional goals, to obtain continued non-Federal support of science and technology research and training;
(C) develop metrics to assess gains in academic research quality and competitiveness, and in science and technology human resource development;
(D) conduct a cross-agency evaluation of each EPSCoR and accomplishments, including management, investment, and metric-measuring strategies implemented by the different agencies aimed to increase the number of new investigators receiving peer-reviewed funding, broaden participation, and empower knowledge generation, dissemination, application, and national research and development competitiveness;
(E) coordinate the development and implementation of new, novel workshops, outreach activities, and follow-up mentoring activities among each EPSCoR for colleges and universities in EPSCoR States and territories in order to increase the number of proposals submitted and successfully funded and to enhance statewide coordination of each EPSCoR;
(F) coordinate the development of new, innovative solicitations and programs to facilitate collaborations, partnerships, and mentoring activities among faculty at all levels in non-EPSCoR and EPSCoR States and jurisdictions;
(G) conduct an evaluation of the roles, responsibilities and degree of autonomy that program officers or managers (or the equivalent position) have in executing each EPSCoR at the different Federal agencies and the impacts these differences have on the number of EPSCoR State and jurisdiction faculty participating in the peer review process and the percentage of successful awards by individual EPSCoR State jurisdiction and individual researcher; and
(H) conduct a survey of colleges and university faculty at all levels regarding their knowledge and understanding of EPSCoR, and their level of interaction with and knowledge about their respective State or Jurisdictional EPSCoR Committee.
(3) Meetings and reports

The Committee shall meet at least twice each fiscal year and shall submit an annual report to the appropriate committees of Congress describing progress made in carrying out paragraph (2).

(d) Federal agency reportsEach Federal agency that administers an EPSCoR shall submit to Congress, as part of its Federal budget submission—
(1) a description of the program strategy and objectives;
(2) a description of the awards made in the previous fiscal year, including—
(A) the total amount made available, by State, under EPSCoR;
(B) the total amount of agency funding made available to all institutions and entities within each EPSCoR State;
(C) the efforts and accomplishments to more fully integrate the EPSCoR States in major agency activities and initiatives;
(D) the percentage of EPSCoR reviewers from EPSCoR States; and
(E) the number of programs or large collaborator awards involving a partnership of organizations and institutions from EPSCoR and non-EPSCoR States; and
(3) an analysis of the gains in academic research quality and competitiveness, and in science and technology human resource development, achieved by the program over the last 5 fiscal years.
(e) National Academy of Sciences study
(1) In general

The Director shall contract with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on all Federal agencies that administer an EPSCoR.

(2) Matters to be addressedThe study conducted under paragraph (1) shall include the following:
(A) A delineation of the policies of each Federal agency with respect to the awarding of grants to EPSCoR States.
(B) The effectiveness of each program.
(C) Recommendations for improvements for each agency to achieve EPSCoR goals.
(D) An assessment of the effectiveness of EPSCoR States in using awards to develop science and engineering research and education, and science and engineering infrastructure within their States.
(E) Such other issues that address the effectiveness of EPSCoR as the National Academy of Sciences considers appropriate.
(f) Award structure updatesIn implementing the mandate to maximize the impact of Federal EPSCoR support on building competitive research infrastructure, and based on the inputs and recommendations of previous EPSCoR reviews, the head of each Federal agency administering an EPSCoR program shall—
(1) consider modifications to EPSCoR proposal solicitation, award type, and project evaluation—
(A) to more closely align with current agency priorities and initiatives;
(B) to focus EPSCoR funding on achieving critical scientific, infrastructure, and educational needs of that agency;
(C) to encourage collaboration between EPSCoR-eligible institutions and researchers, including with institutions and researchers in other States and jurisdictions;
(D) to improve communication between State and Federal agency proposal reviewers; and
(E) to continue to reduce administrative burdens associated with EPSCoR;
(2) consider modifications to EPSCoR award structures—
(A) to emphasize long-term investments in building research capacity, potentially through the use of larger, renewable funding opportunities;
(B) to allow the agency, States, and jurisdictions to experiment with new research and development funding models; and
(C) to increase the capacity of rural communities to provide quality STEM education and STEM workforce development programming to students, and teachers; and
(3) consider modifications to the mechanisms used to monitor and evaluate EPSCoR awards—
(A) to increase collaboration between EPSCoR-funded researchers and agency staff, including by providing opportunities for mentoring young researchers and for the use of Federal facilities;
(B) to identify and disseminate best practices; and
(C) to harmonize metrics across participating Federal agencies, as appropriate.
(Pub. L. 111–358, title V, § 517, Jan. 4, 2011, 124 Stat. 4013; Pub. L. 114–329, title I, § 103(a), (c), (d)(1), Jan. 6, 2017, 130 Stat. 2972–2974; Pub. L. 117–167, div. B, title III, § 10325(a)(2), Aug. 9, 2022, 136 Stat. 1539.)