History of the ND EPSCoR State Office

The ND EPSCoR State Office was created by the ND University System in late 2017 and is funded via appropriations to NDUS by the ND Legislative Assembly. The State Office is responsible for developing, implementing, funding, and managing several statewide programs and activities and administering several federal awards in support of its mission to broaden and diversify ND's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce pathways, support and grow statewide STEM research capacity and competitiveness, and inform and communicate science to ND stakeholders.

The organizational structure of the State Office (below) supports that mission.

History of NSF EPSCoR Programming in North Dakota

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Act of 1950 recognized the value of a broad science and engineering ecosystem across all jurisdictions (states and other U.S. entities). Over time, however, the distribution of research funds became concentrated in a few geographical areas. In response to this imbalance, the National Science Board created a task force in 1977 to examine the geographical distribution of funds. In FY79, the National Science Board approved a resolution that created the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) to ensure NSF was meeting the spirit of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950. The first sets of NSF EPSCoR awards were made in 1979.

The first sets of NSF EPSCoR awards were made in 1979, and the name was updated in 2017 to the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. The main NSF research infrastructure improvement (RII) award is the RII Track-1 cooperative agreement. The Track-1 program is a federal-state partnership, which requires a state financial commitment or match to compete for the federal dollars. The Track-1 is a jurisdictional award meant to build research capacity and competitiveness across the entire state.

NSF EPSCoR has evolved since its inception. Today, the expectation and requirement for funding of a Track-1 cooperative agreement is that a state jurisdiction provides a proposal and a plan whereby the research (intellectual merit) is fully integrated with the education outreach, broadening participation, workforce development, partnerships and collaborations, and communication dissemination to the public components/broader impacts. The motivation for increased integration between research activities and the programmatic elements is to develop a fully trained and diversified workforce to position the state’s national competitiveness and to broaden and sustain economic growth at the state level beyond the funding provided by the NSF.  

History of EPSCoR-like Programming in North Dakota

According to the NSF EPSCoR website, the success of the NSF EPSCoR program during the 1980s prompted the creation of EPSCoR and EPSCoR-like programs in six other federal agencies. In Fiscal Year 1992, the EPSCoR Interagency Coordinating Committee (EICC), was established among the federal agencies with EPSCoR or EPSCoR-like programs.

The major objectives of the EICC focus on improving coordination among and between the federal agencies in implementing EPSCoR and EPSCoR-like programs consistent with the policies of those agencies. Member agencies of the EICC are:

  • Department of Energy (DOE) – there is currently no DOE EPSCoR in the state
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – the ND NASA EPSCoR program is administered by the University of North Dakota with match funding from the ND University System
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) – there are several NIH Institutional Development Awards (IDeA) are administered by the PI’s home instition
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
    • RII Track-1 – this statewide NSF EPSCoR cooperative agreement is administered by the ND EPSCoR State Office. The match to this funding comes from the ND University System through the State Office
    • RII Track-2 – these cooperative agreements of two or more EPSCoR states is administered by the PI’s home institution
    • RII Track-4 – these individual PI awards are administered by the PIs home institution
    • Workshops – this call, which requires that EPSCoR states working together, is open at all times
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – there is currently no USDA EPSCoR funding in the state
  • Department of Defense – there is currently no DEPSCoR funding in the state