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42 U.S. Code § 18999 - Programs to address the STEM workforce

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(a) In general

The Director shall issue undergraduate scholarships, including at community colleges, graduate fellowships and traineeships, postdoctoral awards, and, as appropriate, other awards, to address STEM workforce gaps, including for programs that recruit, retain, and advance students to a bachelor’s degree in a STEM discipline concurrent with a secondary school diploma, such as through existing and new partnerships with State educational agencies.

(b) Postdoctoral professional developmentIn carrying out this section, the Director shall encourage innovation in postdoctoral professional development, support the development and diversity of the STEM workforce, and study the impacts of such innovation and support. To do so, the Director may use postdoctoral awards established under subsection (a) or leveraged under subsection (d)(1) for fellowships or other temporary rotational postings of not more than 2 years. Such fellowships or temporary rotational postings shall be awarded—
to qualified individuals who have a doctoral degree and received such degree not earlier than 5 years before the date that the fellowship or temporary rotational posting begins; and
to carry out research at Federal, State, local, and Tribal government research facilities.
(c) Direct hire authority
(1) In general

The head of any Federal agency may appoint, without regard to the provisions of subchapter I of chapter 33 of title 5, other than sections 3303 and 3328 of that title, a qualified candidate described in paragraph (2) directly to a position in the competitive service with the Federal agency for which the candidate meets Office of Personnel Management qualification standards.

(2) Fellowship or temporary rotational postingParagraph (1) applies with respect to a former recipient of an award under this subsection who—
earned a doctoral degree in a STEM field from an institution of higher education; and
successfully fulfilled the requirements of the fellowship or temporary rotational posting within a Federal agency.
(3) Limitation

The direct hire authority under this subsection shall be exercised with respect to a specific qualified candidate not later than 2 years after the date that the candidate completed the requirements related to the fellowship or temporary rotational posting described under this subsection.

(d) Existing programsIn carrying out this section, the Director may leverage existing programs, including programs that issue—
postdoctoral awards;
graduate fellowships and traineeships, inclusive of the NSF Research Traineeships and fellowships awarded under the Graduate Research Fellowship Program;
(3) scholarships, research experiences, and internships, including—
scholarships to attend community colleges; and
research experiences and internships under sections 1862p–5, 1862p–6, and 1862p–7 of this title; and
awards to institutions of higher education to enable the institutions to fund innovation in undergraduate and graduate education, increased educational capacity, and the development and establishment of new or specialized programs of study for graduate, undergraduate, or technical college students, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of the programs of study.