President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 on August 9. The bipartisan legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 64-33 and the House by a vote of 243-187. The final legislation was several years in the making. Among the many key provisions, the bill establishes several important diversity initiatives under the National Science Foundation (NSF). Some of the items below will require new funding through the annual appropriations process.
- NSF Chief Diversity Officer: The bill codifies the Chief Diversity Officer position at the NSF to provide guidance and to lead the agency’s strategic planning to broaden diverse participation of individuals and institutions in NSF-funded activities. The Chief Diversity Officer will be responsible for providing vision, strategic leadership, and management for ongoing agency-wide programs and new initiatives related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA).
- NSF provisions to increase women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields: The bill supports research and its dissemination to increase the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. It supports activities to increase the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM studies and careers, including research studies, mentoring programs, research experiences, and outreach to elementary and secondary school students. This initiative incorporates ideas from other agencies that address inequities in science, including those outlined in the NIH’s UNITE committee listening session with research staff held January 27, 2022, that highlighted the need for professional development and training to improve STEM workforce diversity. The bill also supports capacity-building for minority-serving institutions (MSIs), including the establishment of MSI Centers of Innovation.
- EPSCoR provisions: The bill directs the NSF to scale-up funding in key research and STEM accounts to institutions and local researchers in Established Programs to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) jurisdictions to 20% of NSF research funding over seven years. States who are port of EPSCoR receive funding for the development and implementation of STEM education. This initiative expands existing provisions that support the EPSCoR program. It establishes a pilot program through EPSCoR to require multi-institution proposals seeking funding of $1 million to be submitted in partnership with emerging research institutions and requires annual reporting on such grants to include feedback directly from participating emerging research institutions.
- Sexual Harassment: The bill funds research to better understand sexual harassment in STEM and to develop effective interventions. It requires the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to designate an interagency working group to coordinate federal research agency efforts to reduce sexual harassment in STEM. The bill also requires NSF to enter into agreement with the National Academies to update the report On Being a Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research to include updated professional conduct standards, such as promising practices for preventing and addressing the negative impact of sexual harassment and promising practices for mitigating research security risks. The bill directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to assess federal research agency implementation of OSTP policy guidance related to preventing and mitigating sexual harassment in the academic STEM workforce.
- Improving Outreach to Minority Serving Institutions: The bill directs GAO to inventory federal competitive research programs targeted to minority-serving institutions and directs OSTP to issue uniform guidance to improve federal research agency outreach to MSIs.
- Rural STEM Education: The bill proposes R&D and resources for teachers to increase access to STEM education in rural schools, opens opportunities for online education and mentoring for rural students, and directs the GAO to study the engagement of rural populations in federal STEM programs.
Dr. Jasmine George is Research!America’s Dr. Louis Sullivan Science Policy Fellow.