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Press Release: Foster Introduces the Bipartisan Smarter EPSCoR Act

Sep 13, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL) introduced the bipartisan Smarter EPSCoR Act to ensure research dollars are distributed in an equitable manner.  Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) is also an original cosponsor of the bill. The legislation would correct the formula that determines eligibility for EPSCoR program funding so that it is based on a per-capita basis instead of a per-state basis. This change would give priority to researchers in states that are genuinely under-represented in NSF research grants regardless of the state’s population.

Currently, researchers can only access EPSCoR funding if they work in a state that has received below a certain percentage of NSF grant funding in the previous three years. It puts researchers in large-population states at a disadvantage, because the eligibility is based on a per-state basis rather than a per-capita basis.

“EPSCoR was started in the hopes of bolstering research in states that did not receive their fair share of federal research spending.” Foster said. “While the goals of this program may have been noble in theory, the flawed eligibility formula means that this program has become just another example of a federal program that preferentially directs money out of states with large populations. Our legislation will ensure that researchers from underserved states get equal access to EPSCoR research funding irrespective of their state’s population.”

The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) was authorized by Congress in 1978 as a special set-aside of federal research funding only eligible to states who consistently received very few NSF grants. Eligibility to participate in NSF EPSCoR opportunities is currently determined by whether or not a state has received less than 0.75% of NSF research funding in the previous three years with no consideration for a state’s population.

Text of the bill is available here.