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Association of American Universities Statement on House Passage of American Innovation and Competitiveness Act


The House of Representatives today gave final approval to the American Innovation and Competitive Act. The Senate passed it last week. Following is a statement by Association of American Universities President Mary Sue Coleman on the legislation.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Congress has come through and passed the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act. We applaud this bipartisan action. This was a case in which a legislative process that carefully balanced competing interests and took into account the input provided by the university community was rewarded with enactment of good legislation.

The bill reaffirms the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) continued use of the merit-based peer review process, the gold standard for evaluating scientific proposals. It also recognizes the work done by NSF to improve its transparency and accountability process and to communicate to the public why research grants are in the national interest.

The bill will also lead to establishment of an interagency working group to examine ways to reduce the administrative burden on universities and researchers. That burden takes time and resources that could be used for conducting research. We believe this could help lead to a more efficient and effective federal research enterprise.

Finally, the legislation will boost commercialization of university discoveries and also contains a small but important change to NSF’s broader-impacts criterion for grant approval that will aid AAU’s initiative to improve the quality of undergraduate STEM instruction.

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Founded in 1900, the Association of American Universities comprises 62 distinguished institutions that continually advance society through education, research and discovery. Our universities earn the majority of competitively awarded federal funding for academic research, are improving human life and wellbeing through research and are educating tomorrow’s visionary leaders and global citizens. AAU members collectively help shape policy for higher education, science and innovation; promote best practices in undergraduate and graduate education; and strengthen the contributions of research universities to society.