American Innovation and Competitiveness Act becomes law

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January 6, 2017

On January 6, President Obama signed the “American Innovation and Competitiveness Act” (AICA), (S.3084), into law. The bill was passed by the 114th Congress in December 2016. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced the bill, which replaces the America COMPETES Acts of 2007 and 2010. This bill creates a framework for future research at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and various other federal research agencies and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs.

The AICA reforms research processes and modifies how the NSF evaluates grant proposals. Proposal review criteria now explicitly reference the U.S. “national interest.” Under this law, NSF-funded abstracts must be understandable by accessible to both technical and non-technical audiences. In instances of research misconduct, the law requires the NSF to notify federal science agencies of the wrongdoing. It also mandates the National Academies of Science to assess the status of federally-funded interdisciplinary research data replication issues.

The AICA contains no recommended funding levels for research agencies, and it strengthens NSF facility management practices. Other components of this major update outline actionsfor research agencies and expand current NSF research policies.