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Press Releases :: March 31, 2009

Subcommittee Approves Bills To Improve Coordination of STEM Education, International S&T Efforts

(Washington, DC) – Today the Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Science Education advanced two bills.  The first, H.R. 1709, will coordinate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs across the federal government.  The second bill, H.R. 1736, will coordinate international science and technology activities and partnerships between and among federal research agencies and the Department of State. 

H.R. 1709, STEM Education Coordination Act of 2009,will improve the coordination of STEM education programs at the Federal agencies. 
“This bill will bring about greatly needed interagency coordination of STEM activities funded across the federal government,” said cosponsor and Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Lipinski (D-IL).  “Coordination will make federal efforts in STEM education better focused and more effective.”
“The agencies are each investing in STEM education and doing some great work, but due to a lack of coordination, the agencies have had trouble evaluating their programs and building awareness of their programs among teachers,” said bill author Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN).  “Coordination and collaboration across the agencies must be improved in order to make the most of our federal investment in STEM education.  This bill establishes a mechanism to ensure that, through better planning, coordination, and evaluation, we are maximizing the benefit of federally-funded STEM activities.”
The legislation will establish a committee under the National Science and Technology Council with the responsibility to coordinate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education activities and programs being funded through the Federal R&D mission agencies.
This bill draws on recommendations from a 2007 National Science Board report, “ANational Action Plan for Addressing the Critical Needs of the U.S. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education System.” 
The bill would charge the committee with developing a STEM education strategic plan to specify and prioritize annual and long term objectives.  The strategic plan will also include metrics that will be used to assess progress and descriptions of the programs and activities conducted by each agency in support of the overall objectives. In addition, the committee is charged with establishing and maintaining a comprehensive inventory of federally sponsored STEM education activities.  This inventory will include assessments of the various programs.  Finally, the bill would require an annual report to Congress including a description and funding level of the STEM Education programs and activities at each of the participating Federal agencies for both the previous and current fiscal years. 
Other cosponsors include Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) and Full Committee Ranking Member Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX).
The second bill the Subcommittee considered, H.R. 1736 The International Science and Technology Cooperation Act of 2009, would create a committee to coordinate all international science and technology activities and partnerships between and among federal research agencies and the Department of State.
“I believe that the new Administration gives us a tremendous opportunity and a fresh outlook for both science and foreign policy, and H.R. 1736 is right at the intersection of those two realms,” said cosponsor and Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Lipinski (D-IL). “I am also pleased that we adopted my amendment to promote university and industry participation. Including these stakeholders in the coordinating committee will ensure that our scientists, engineers, and businesses reap the full benefit of our international partnerships. “
“Science diplomacy needs to play a major role in our nation’s foreign policy.  This bill takes an important step forward by providing American scientists access to the best research, and research sites from around the world,” said bill author Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA). “By working together, these world class minds will be able to advance both U.S. and international interests in the search for solutions to the problems created by global overheating, infection diseases and other problems that could directly affect not only the health of our planet, but our national security as well.”
The legislation would form a Committee on International Science, Engineering and Technology (CISET) under the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) at the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), similar to a committee that existed through the 1990’s. 
Other cosponsors include Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO), Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI)
The Subcommittee approved amendments from Chairman Baird, Rep. Parker Griffith (D-AL), Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO), and Chairman Lipinski.
For more information, please see the Committee’s website.

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