The Rush to the Airport

Mike Waring
AUTM Advocacy and Alliances Coordinator

As lawmakers prepare to dash for the airport right before Christmas, now is the time for universities to make the case for a federal funding strategy that will prioritize technology transfer in fiscal year 2023.
Now that the mid-term elections are over, Congress is back in town and desperate to finish up its “must do” business before the holidays. Among those items is funding the federal government for the rest of the 2023 fiscal year, which began October 1 and runs through next September.
Currently, last year’s funding levels have been extended only until December 16.  This was done in late September – not only to push final decisions until after the election, but also to buy time to find a final compromise between the House and Senate. 
During the last few weeks, staffers for the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have been informally meeting to try and come up with compromise spending levels across all 12 appropriations bills.  If the leadership of both houses will allow it, all of those bills would be combined into one giant spending bill called an “omnibus” appropriations bill, which the House and Senate would then vote on before Congress decamps from DC.  That would be the preference for many lawmakers as well. 
However, with the Republicans assuming control of the House come January, there may be some who will argue that the final decision on funding should be decided by the next Congress in early 2023, and that the current Congress should merely extend the temporary funding levels until, say, February.  We will know more about the ultimate strategy soon.
Regardless of when a decision is made, the key issue for technology transfer is how much new money the National Science Foundation (NSF) will receive.  That may well determine funding levels for the new NSF technology transfer programs that AUTM fought to have included in the CHIPS and Science Act passed in early August.  Those programs would provide direct support of tech transfer operations as well as new regional consortia to spur local economic development.  These grants, each up to $1 million per year for three years, could be transformative for many tech transfer operations.
Your university is already pushing lawmakers from your state to increase NSF funding as high as possible for 2023. Citing the opportunities these new tech transfer programs could provide will strengthen their case. If you have not already done so, alert your federal relations team and urge them to use this talking point with lawmakers to advocate for full and robust funding of NSF.