New White House memo outlines the administration’s research and development priorities

The memo encourages agencies to coordinate among themselves and invest largely in early-stage research — leaving later stage investment for the private sector.
White House, presidential administration
The White House. (Diego Cambiaso / Flickr)

A memo from the Executive Office of the President released last week gives an overview of the research and development priorities agencies should consider in crafting fiscal year 2019 budget requests.

“American leadership in science and technology is critical to achieving this Administration’s highest priorities: national security, economic growth, and job creation,” begins the memo, written by Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and White House Deputy CTO Michael Kratsios.

It goes on to outline five R&D priority areas. These are characterized as American military superiority, American security, American prosperity, American energy dominance and American health. The memo advises that “these priorities should receive special focus in agency budget requests.”

The memo also goes into R&D priority practices, or the how for investing in research while also reducing the size of government, as is a leading administration goal. The memo suggests that agencies should “ensure that the proposed programs are based on sound science, do not duplicate existing R&D efforts, and have the potential to contribute to the public good.”


It also prioritizes supporting early-stage research most and leaving later-stage funding to the private sector and finally advises that agencies should strive to coordinate their R&D efforts with other agencies.

Finally, the memo encourages agencies to invest on the inside, too. “Agencies should incorporate STEM education, including computer science education, and workforce training opportunities into their programs,” it reads. It also prompts “maintaining and modernizing research infrastructure.”

The memo is the first and (as of writing) only release published on the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy webpage. The office was lively under President Obama, but has been fairly quiet since President Trump took office. The White House has denied claims that the science division of OSTP has no employees, but, aside from Kratsios, OSTP is lacking leadership.

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