White House Wants Agencies to Prioritize Emerging Tech in Next Year’s Budget


Nanotechnology, robotics and cyber-physical systems get a shout-out in the budget memo.

The White House plans to prioritize emerging technology and big data in the fiscal year 2017 budget, according to a memorandum published last week. 

When submitting budget requests to the Office of Management and Budget, federal agencies should "prioritize investments in enabling technologies that benefit multiple sectors of the economy, such as nanotechnology, robotics, the Materials Genome Initiative, and cyber-physical systems and their application to smart cities,” the memo said.

General topics mentioned in the memo include "advanced manufacturing and industries of the future," and "information technology and high-performance computing," in addition to other science-related subjects such as climate change.

The document directs agencies to prioritize research into big data analytics as a means for advancing national security, noting that agencies should favor data investments that can "further scientific discovery and innovation while providing appropriate privacy protections for personal data."

That portion of the memo builds on the White House's February report outlining the federal government's plans to use big data techniques to strengthen cybersecurity, which "will include coordinating the development or changes of necessary policies to ensure that data is appropriately protected and secured."

The memo also tells agencies to highlight programs intended to "foster innovation," such as department-hosted Grand Challenges with prize rewards, and "collaboration with members of the Maker Movement."

Agencies should make sure their Small Business Innovation Research programs and Small Business Technology Transfer awards are furthering agency technology priorities, the memo said. 

Agencies should also prioritize investments that could improve access to federal data in their budget requests, according to the memo -- the results of federally-funded research, scientific collections and open educational resources, among other sources.

The memo also urges agencies to use more sophisticated methods to assess their research and development programs, asking them to use "using meaningful, measurable and quantitative metrics where possible and describe how they plan to evaluate the success of those programs."

(Image via JohnKwan / Shutterstock.com)