Current Events in Science Policy
weekly news update

February 16, 2016

Edited by Kate Stoll, Senior Policy Advisor, MIT Washington Office


The FY17 budget request from the Obama administration proposed a 4.2% increase in R&D investments overall. However, most of the increases are requested as “mandatory” funding, rather than “discretionary,” the usual bin for R&D funding. Mandatory funding would require additional legislation beyond the appropriations bills, but is not subject to the budget caps as determined by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. For a breakdown of the key science agencies’ budget proposals, go to AAAS R&D Budget Analysis. (Source: AAAS)


Scientists announced the detection of gravitational waves for the first time in history, proving right a 100 year-old theory by Einstein, and ushering a new era in astronomy. The signal originated from a pair of black holes colliding over a billion years ago. The gravitational wave detector was designed by a collaboration of MIT, Cal Tech and other researchers, and was funded by the National Science Foundation. (Source: MIT News)

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a controversial bill requiring NSF research to meet “national interest” criteria. Those in support of the bill want greater transparency in NSF’s grant selection process. Those who oppose the bill say Congress is interfering with the merit review process by which scientists choose which research is most worthy of funding. (Source: Science)

Weekly news digests do not imply endorsement of any political positions, and are not intended to be comprehensive.