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White House to prioritise research over development

Research should take precedence over development, the Obama administration has said in a memo to federal agencies outlining its science and technology priorities for the fiscal year 2014 budget.

“Because of the crucial government role in supporting research, in general agencies should give priority to funding for research above funding for development activities,” asserts the 6 June memo, issued by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

On research portfolios, the administration encourages agencies to identify and pursue “Grand Challenges”, which it describes as “ambitious goals that require advances in science, technology and innovation to achieve”.

The memo also urges the agencies to support “the research tools and infrastructure needed to ensure that US science remains at the leading edge of discovery”.

But in delineating priorities, the administration says, proposals for new research major facilities must be “fully justified and balanced against” funding for research activities and operations of existing facilities.

“In a time of constrained resources, agencies should continue to direct resources to high-priority activities and identify potential eliminations or reductions in less-effective, lower-quality, or lower­priority programs,” OMB and OSTP state.

They direct agencies to avoid duplicating research in areas receiving funding from the private sector.

The memo requests that they explain in their budget submissions how they are redirecting available resources from lower-priority areas to science and technology activities that address the administration’s key priorities.

These multi-agency priorities include advanced manufacturing, clean energy, global climate change, nanotechnology, R&D that strengthens the scientific basis for policy decision-making, as well as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.