It will take a while for the higher education community to fully understand the scope of the recently approved federal stimulus bill, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). We have prepared an overview of the stimulus act and highlighted areas in which higher education institutions could qualify for funding.

Note: Most agencies have a website dedicated to the stimulus bill with up to date information on funding opportunities. The typical domain name is: http://www.nameofagency.gov/recovery. Please check these websites regularly as time is of the essence in terms of submitting grant applications for stimulus funds. Please also regularly review the page on Virginia Tech’s research division website: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (2009).

I. Department of Agriculture

  • Broadband: $2.5 billion is provided to the Rural Utilities Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for loans, loan guarantees, and grants for broadband development. Projects must focus on rural broadband development.
  • Biomass: $50 million is provided to the Forest Service for wood to energy competitive grants for the increased use of biomass from federal and non federal forested lands.

II. Department of Commerce

A. National Telecommunications and Information Administration

  • Broadband: $4.35 billion for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Broadband Technology Opportunity Program. This program is run through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and it includes competitive grants to accelerate broadband deployment in un-served and underserved areas.
  • Broadband: $350 million for the U.S Department of Commerce’s State Broadband Data and Development Grant. This program provides grants to develop and implement statewide initiatives to identify and track the adoption and availability of broadband services.

B. National Institute for Standards and Technology

  • Scientific Research at NIST: $220 million for the Scientific and Technical Research Services Program (STRS) for research, competitive grants, and research fellowships. The STRS program is a research program made up of laboratories and technical programs and national research facilities. Funding will be used to establish environmental measurements and standards, including remote sensing for climate change, to develop metrics, tools, and data supporting green building technologies, to improve energy efficiency and distribution through smart grid technologies, etc.
  • Research Building Construction through NIST: $180 million for a competitive construction grant program for research science buildings. At this time it is not clear as to whether NIST will consider new proposals for funding or will whether it will only look at previous years’ applications that were denied. Previous years’ guidance indicates that, “Proposals will be evaluated by considering the scientific and technical merits of the proposal, the quality of the design of the proposed science research building, and the adequacy of a project execution plan that includes project scope, schedule, budget, management, and financial support for the project. Selections also will be based on the degree to which the proposed project complements DoC science and technology programs; the applicant’s experience in promoting national impacts through research outcomes, training, cooperation with federal programs, and opportunities for visiting researchers; whether or not the proposed project would duplicate other federally funded projects; the amount of additional funding the applicant is prepared to supply; and other factors.”

C. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

  • NOAA Research: $230 million for NOAA operations, research, and facilities to address a backlog of research, restoration, navigation, conservation, and management activities.

III. Department of Justice

IV. Law Enforcement Prevention Grants: $225 million is provided for the Byrne competitive grant program. These grants are for state, and local governments, as well as non-profits to help prevent crime, improve the administration of justice, provide services to victims of crime, and other activities.

V. Science

A. NASA

  • NASA Earth Science Climate Research: $400 million to NASA to accelerate earth science climate research.
  • NASA Aeronautics Research: $150 million to NASA for aeronautics research.

B. National Science Foundation - $3.0 billion, divided, in part, as follows:

  • NSF Research and Related Activities - $2 billion.
  • NSF Major Instrumentation Program: $300 million for the major research instrumentation program, a program to increase research and training at institutions of higher education to help assist with the acquisition, and development of shared research instrumentation.
  • NSF Academic Facilities Modernization: $200 million for the academic facilities modernization program to repair and renovate obsolete science and engineering buildings devoted to research.
  • NSF Math, Science Partnerships: $25 million for math and science partnerships. This program is a merit-based competitive grant program that provides funds to teams of higher education and K-12 entities to develop and implement pioneering ways off advancing math and science education.
  • NSF Research Equipment and Construction: $400 million for major research equipment and facilities construction. Funds will be used to accelerate the construction and development of major research facilities that provide unique capabilities and that are transformative in nature. It is expected that funds will be used for previously approved investments and those nearing their completed design reviews.

VI. Department of Defense

  • DOD Energy Research: $300 million is provided for research and development, test, and evaluation on energy efficiency and enhancements in transmission, regulation, and storage of energy. Research and development shall include energy derived from fuel cells, wind, solar, biofuels, and bioenergy. Of the $300 million - $75 is provided to the Army; $75 million to the Navy; $75 million to the Air Force; and $75 million Defense-wide for these purposes.

VII. Department of Energy

  • DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Research Programs: $16.8 billion is provided to the Department of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs. Of this amount, the following is provided:

$2.5 billion for applied research, development, demonstration and deployment activities. Of this $2.5 billion: $800 million shall be for projects related to biomass and $400 million for geothermal activities

$3.2 billion for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program. Funds under this block grant program flow to states and localities for a host of energy efficiency related activities, including: conducting residential and commercial building energy audits; establishing financial incentives programs for energy efficiency improvements; grants to non-profits to perform energy efficiency retrofits; technical and consulting services, etc.

$3.1 billion for State Energy Programs. Funds go to state energy offices which then can use grants to address their energy priorities and to adopt emerging renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies

$2 billion for grants for manufacturing advanced batteries and components

$300 million for the Alternative Fueled Vehicles Pilot Program

  • DOE Smart Grid Development: $4.5 billion to the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Reliability for a variety of smart grid development initiatives, including: (a) modernizing the electrical grid; (b) enhancing security and reliability of energy infrastructure, energy storage, research, demonstration and deployment; (c) to facilitate recovery from disruption of energy supply; and (d) for implementing smart grid projects under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act.
  • DOE Fossil Energy Research and Development: $3.4 billion is provided for the Fossil Energy Research and Development Program. Of these funds, the following is provided:

$1 billion for fossil energy research and development programs

$800 million for the Clean Coal Power Initiative Round III Funding Opportunity Announcement
$1.2 billion for competitive grants for a range of industrial carbon capture and energy efficiency improvement projects

$50 million for a competitive grant for site characterization activities in geologic formations
$20 million for geologic sequestration training and research grants

  • Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy - $400 million for ARPA-E activities. ARPA-E is designed to support transformational energy technology research projects with the goal of enhancing the nation’s economic and energy security.

VIII. Department of Labor

  • Workforce Training Programs: $3.95 billion is provided to programs under the Workforce Investment Act. Within these funds, the following programs specifically receive funding:

$500 million to the states for adult employment and training activities

$1.2 billion for youth activities, including summer employment

$1.25 billion to states for dislocated worker employment and training activities

$750 million in competitive grants for worker training and placement in high growth emerging industry sectors, of which $500 million is designated for research and job training projects that prepare workers for careers in energy efficiency and renewable energy. A local workforce investment board may contract with an institution of higher education for these purposes.

IX. Department of Health and Human Services

The National Institutes of Health - $10.4 billion. NIH has started to release grant notices with upcoming deadlines. They can be found at: http://grants.nih.gov/recovery/.

The $10.4 billion in NIH funds is divided as follows:

  • Scientific Research: $8.2 billion is provided for scientific research priorities at the NIH. These monies will be divided as follows:

$7.4 billion to the various institutes for research. Per a briefing provided by the Acting Director of NIH, funding for research must be for 2 years. The institutes will first review highly meritorious peer reviewed projects that were denied funding in previous years but that meet NIH standards for funding. The institutes will then review new applications for projects that can make good progress with a 2 year grant. The institutes will also look to supplement existing grants.

$800 million to the Office of Director to focus on health and science problems where progress can be expected within two years. Within this $800 million, $200 million has been set aside for the NIH Challenge Grant program . The director expects to award up to 200 or more grants that will be in the overall amount of $1 million ($500,000 per year for 2 years). Applications for challenge grants are due April 27, 2009. More information can be found at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-OD-09-003.html

X. Department of Education

  • Teacher Quality/Professional Development: $100 million is provided to Title II of the Higher Education Act of 1965. This title, among other things, provides for competitive grants to institutions of higher education to reform and improves teacher preparation programs and professional development.

XI. Health Information Technology

The stimulus bill provides $19 billion for a new, major health information technology initiative which is authorized in the stimulus bill. The bill creates a bureaucracy within the Department of Health and Human Services to recommend, develop and ultimately adopt HIT standards, criteria, and policy with respect to HIT infrastructure. Of the $19 billion, the legislation provides $2 billion to the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT to jump-start this effort. (The other $17 billion is intended for provider incentives) Possible funding avenues for HIT experts within the $2 billion provided to the National Coordinator include the following, in order of appearance in the stimulus bill:

Standards Development (Page 302 of Division A) – the National Coordinator MAY provide financial assistance to consumer advocacy groups and not-for-profit entities that work under the National Technology Transfer Act. The NTAA strives to increase interaction and cooperation of private and public sectors in developing and adopting standards that serve national needs.

Reimbursement Incentive Study (Page 330 of Division A) – The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall carry out, or contract with a private entity to carry out, a study that examines methods to create efficiency reimbursement incentives for improving health care quality in community health centers.

HIT Aging Services Technology (Pages 330-332 of Division A) – The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall carry out, or contract with a private entity to carry out, a study of matters relating to the potential use of HIT to meet the health care needs of seniors, individuals with disabilities, and their caregivers. The study shall evaluate the methods for identifying current, emerging, and future health technology that can assist these populations; methods for fostering scientific innovation with respect to aging services technology within the business and academic community; and developments in aging services technologies in other countries that may be applied in the United States.

HIT Testing – (Page 333 of Division A) – The Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology shall support the establishment of a conformance testing infrastructure, including the development of technical test beds. The development of this infrastructure may include a program to accredit independent, non-Federal laboratories to perform testing.

Health Care Information Enterprise Integration Research Centers (Pages 333-336 of Division A) - The Director of NIST shall establish a program of assistance to institutions of higher education (or a consortia) to establish multidisciplinary Centers for Health Care Information Enterprise Integration. Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis, and the purpose of the centers is to: generate innovative approaches to health care information enterprise integration by conducting research on systems challenges to health care delivery; develop and use health information technologies and other complementary fields. Research areas for the centers may include: interfaces between human information and communications technology systems; voice recognition systems; software that improves interoperability; HIT security and integrity. Applications shall be submitted to the Director of NIST at such time and manner that the director requires.

National Information Technology R&D – (Page 336 of Division A) – the section reads that the “National High-Performance Computing Program established by section 101 of the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991 shall include Federal research and development programs related to health information technology.”

HIT Research Center (Pages 341-343 of Division A) – The Secretary shall create a HIT Research Center to provide technical assistance and to develop or recognize best practices to support and accelerate efforts to adopt, implement, and effectively utilize HIT. The center shall provide a forum for the exchange of knowledge and experience and accelerate the transfer of lessons learned from existing initiatives. The center shall also assemble, analyze, and disseminate evidence related to the adoption and effective use of HIT.

Written by Director of Federal Relations Chris Yianilos.