Public Health Security and Innovation Top the List of Federal R&D Priorities for the FY 2022 Budget

Published: August 19, 2020

Federal Market AnalysisArtificial Intelligence/Machine LearningBudgetCoronavirus (COVID-19) PandemicResearch and Development

OMB’s memo, released Friday, lists “American Public Health Security and Innovation” as the top priority for research and development (R&D) for the FY 2022 budget.

Key Takeaways:

  • Public health security and innovation emerges as a new R&D priority for the FY 2022 budget.
  • Other R&D priorities include American security, and leadership in energy, environment, space, and Industries of the Future (IotF).  
  • New cross-cutting actions in R&D include the science and technology workforce, research environments, multisector partnerships, and leveraging data.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a number of federal priorities. One place this is evident is in the new federal priorities for R&D for the FY 2022 budget.

On August 14th, OMB released a memo specifying the “FY 2022 Administration Research and Development Budget Priorities and Cross-cutting Actions.”  Many of the priorities mirror those specified in the FY 2021 president’s budget request. However, a new priority showed up, front and center, American Public Health Security and Innovation.

The pandemic has forced the administration to reevaluate priorities in light of the public health crisis. The Trump administration has long been critical of health and medical research agencies and budgets. The last two presidential budget requests sought to slash NIH budgets, and cut overall HHS discretionary funding.  

The OMB memo reveals the administration’s new R&D priorities for FY 2022. The table below shows these priorities in relation to those specified in the FY 2021 budget request.   

The memo specifies four areas of focus for R&D for public health security and innovation:

  • Diagnostic, Vaccine, and Therapeutic R&D
  • Infectious Disease Modeling, Prediction, and Forecasting
  • Biomedicine and Biotechnology
  • Bioeconomy

Leadership in the Industries of the Future (iotF) and related technologies include a focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Quantum Information Science (QIS), advanced communications networks including 5G, advanced manufacturing, and biotechnology.

The area of securing Americans includes protecting the U.S. and its citizens from threats from competitors and adversaries, but also from threats posed by the natural world. This area of R&D concentration includes resilience, advanced military capabilities, and semiconductors.

R&D for energy and environmental research includes research aimed at energy, earth system predictability, meteorological services, oceans and the artic.

R&D investments for space leadership focus on the president’s priority of returning to the moon’s surface by 2024, future human missions to Mars, and microgravity research.

OMB’s memo also specifies cross-cutting R&D actions for FY 2022:

  • Building the Science and Technology Workforce of the Future
  • Optimizing Research Environments and Results
  • Facilitating Multisector Partnerships and Technology Transfer
  • Leveraging the Power of Data

Several of these actions were mentioned in the FY 2021 budget, but OMB’s recent memo gives them more emphasis for the FY 2022 budget.

Contractors, as well as academia, may find opportunities to assist federal agencies with the new R&D agenda and priorities in the form of procurements, contracts or grants.