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H.R. 4186 (113th): FIRST Act of 2014

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

3/10/2014--Introduced. Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology Act of 2014 or FIRST Act of 2014 - Authorizes appropriations for FY2014-FY2015 to the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Specifies policy objectives for the NSF in allocating resources.

Directs the NSF to award federal funding for basic research and education in the sciences through a new research grant or cooperative agreement only if it makes, and justifies in writing, an affirmative determination that the grant or agreement is worthy of federal funding and meets certain other criteria.

Authorizes the NSF Director to increase funding for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship program (or any successor) over the previous fiscal year's funding level only at the same rate as a corresponding funding increase for the NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program (or any successor).

Allows any Education and Human Resources Directorate grant to support informal education to be used to: (1) support the participation of students in nonprofit competitions, out-of-school activities, and field experiences related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects; and (2) broaden secondary school students' access to, and interest in, careers that require academic preparation in STEM subjects.

Requires the Director of the NSF to provide merit-reviewed, competitive grants for research on programming that engages underrepresented students in grades kindergarten through 8 in STEM to prepare them to pursue undergraduate and graduate STEM degrees or careers.

Requires such grants to be used toward research to advance the engagement of these students in STEM through providing before-school, after-school, out-of-school, or summer activities designed to encourage interest, engagement, and skills development of underrepresented students in STEM.

Directs the Comptroller General (GAO) to study the use of NSF-funded scientific computing resources at institutions of higher education.

Requires the NSF Director to place a high priority on designing and administering pilot programs for scientific breakthrough prizes, in conjunction with private entities, that are consistent with Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) guidelines.

Amends the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to call on the NSF to collaborate with the Israel Science Foundation.

Instructs the NSF to support research activities related to the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative.

Directs the President to establish or designate a STEM Education Advisory Panel.

Requires the NSF Director to establish a STEM Education Coordinating Office for the coordination of STEM education activities and programs of the federal government. Requires the Office, taking over from the committee to coordinate federal programs and activities in support of STEM education, to update triennially the STEM education strategic plan established in May 2013.

Authorizes appropriations for FY2014-FY2015 for OSTP.

Requires the Director of OSTP to establish a working group under the authority of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) to review federal regulations that affect research and research universities.

Directs the NSTC to deliver a plan to Congress containing policies, procedures, and standards for the federal science agencies to enable archiving and retrieving covered material in digital form for public availability in perpetuity.

Requires the OSTP Director to establish a body under such Council to identify and coordinate international science and technology cooperation that can strengthen U.S. science and technology enterprise, improve economic and national security, and support U.S. foreign policy goals.

Directs the heads of specified federal science agencies to conduct pilot programs to validate alternative research funding models.

Amends the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 regarding prize competitions.

Authorizes appropriations for FY2014-FY2015 to the Secretary of Commerce for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Amends the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act (the Act) to authorize the Secretary of Commerce, through the Director of the NIST, to serve as the President's principal advisor on standards policy pertaining to the nation's technological competitiveness and innovation ability.

Revises requirements for research fellowships. Authorizes the NIST Director to support, promote, and coordinate activities and efforts to enhance awareness and understanding of measurement sciences, standards, and technology by the general public, industry, and academia in support of the NIST mission. Retains the current post-doctoral fellowship program, but eliminates the manufacturing fellowship program and the teacher science and technology enhancement program.

Directs NIST to contract with the National Research Council (NRC) to perform and report on assessments of the technical quality and impact of the work conducted at NIST laboratories (currently, contract with the NRC for advice and studies to assist the NIST to serve U.S. industry and science).

Adds as a purpose of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Centers the transfer of best business practices.

Amends the Small Business Act to replace the Proof of Concept Partnership pilot program (to accelerate the creation of small businesses and the commercialization of research innovations made by certain institutions) with a requirement that each federal agency already required to establish a small business technology transfer (STTR) program also carry out an Innovative Approaches to Technology Transfer Grant Program to support innovative approaches to technology transfer at institutions of higher education, nonprofit research institutions, and federal laboratories in order to accelerate the commercialization of federally funded research and technology by small businesses, including new businesses.

Advancing America's Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act of 2014 - Amends the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991 to rename the National High-Performance Computing Program as the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program.

Requires the participating federal agencies to develop, and update every three years, a five-year strategic plan to guide activities provided for under the Program, to be accompanied by milestones and road maps for establishing the national research infrastructure required to support the Program.

Requires the OSTP Director to encourage and monitor the efforts of participating agencies to allocate the resources and management attention necessary to ensure that the strategic plan is executed effectively and that Program objectives are met.

Replaces the National Research and Education Network with a National Coordination Office, and requires the Director of the Office to convene: (1) a workshop to explore mechanisms for carrying out collaborative R&D activities for cyber-physical systems; and (2) through the National Science and Technology Council, an interagency working group to examine how federal science agencies can facilitate the use of cloud-computing for federally-funded science and engineering research.

Requires the NIST to develop and propose standards and guidelines needed for assuring the cost-effective security and privacy of information in federal computer systems (under current law, privacy of sensitive information in those systems).