The White House Fiscal Year 2022 budget priorities memo released today outlines the Trump Administration’s ideal research and development (R&D) investments across areas including emerging technologies and public health innovation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FY2022 R&D Budget Priorities Memorandum guides agencies through what science and technology areas the White House wants them to prioritize in their annual budget request. R&D investments in public health are “top priority,” per the memo.

“Under President Trump’s strong leadership, we are making important strategic R&D investments and fostering a research environment where discovery and innovation will continue to flourish,” Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Kelvin Droegemeier said of the memo. “It is also critical that U.S. researchers are equipped with the cutting-edge tools they need to answer major challenges, like the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

The White House is directing agencies to continue to support all R&D that will help foster the technical response to COVID-19, including modernized equipment and vaccines. Other efforts, such as improving the ability to predict future pandemics and discovering evidence-based standards to enhance biotech infrastructure, are also listed in the memo.

In line with past emerging technologies initiatives, the White House memo prioritizes investing in R&D for industries of the future, such as AI, quantum information science, and advanced communications networks. Specifically, the executive administration recommends agency investments in R&D on ethical AI, novel hardware, and evaluation methodologies and standards.

According to another report also released today by the White House, investments in nondefense AI and quantum information sciences R&D grew from about $1.4 billion in FY2020 to about $2.2 billion in FY2021. The White House, per the report, aims to double the FY2020 Federal R&D investments in these emerging tech areas by FY2022.

As our nation faces one of the greatest challenges in our history, the Trump Administration is prioritizing the key emerging technologies that will help ensure continued economic strength and national security,” CTO Michael Kratsios said. “Our R&D budget priorities reflect a commitment to turbocharging America’s innovation ecosystem, ensuring a healthier, safer, and more prosperous future for all Americans.”

Other key priorities in the memo include R&D investments in national security, energy and environmental leadership investments, building a strong Federal R&D workforce, and strengthening the research environment. The memo highlights the importance of leveraging the power of data, a part of the President’s Management Agenda, as agencies prepare FY2022 budgets.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.