Policy IssuesPicture of US Capitol

The Computing Research Association has been involved in shaping federal public policy of relevance to computing research for more than fifteen years, and weighs in on multiple issues that can affect the computing researching community. The Issues pages below provide links to information on research, science, and technology policy, with emphasis on issues of interest to computing research. While not comprehensive, below are a number of issues that the Association has worked on over the past few years. As new issues arise, which require CRA’s input, they will be added. To find out specifics on what CRA has done, please read through our Policy Blog.

Information Technology R&D

Advances in information technology (IT) are changing our lives, driving our economy, and transforming the conduct of science. America is the world leader in IT innovation because of a complex interplay of universities, industry, and the federal government. Essentially every aspect of IT upon which we rely today – every billion-dollar sub-category of the IT industry – bears the clear stamp of federally supported university-based research. These relatively modest investments have played an essential role in the past, and will play an essential role in the future. CRA’s mission in Washington is to be the voice for the computer researching community and to make sure that Congress and Administration officials, regardless of party, are aware of the benefits of this publicly funded research.

Relevant Documents
  • CRA Endorsement of S. 3084 - the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2016 - June 2016
    CRA's Endorsement of the Senate American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084), including the Senate version of a NITRD Reauthorization bill.
  • CRA Endorsement NITRD Modernization Act of 2016 - May 2016
    CRA's endorsement letter to the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee for the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Modernization Act of 2016
  • Science Coalitions Letter - Nov 2015
    A letter, signed by thirteen different coalitions, representing over 500 individual organizations, sent to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, urging them, "to make strong investments in America’s innovation ecosystem one of your highest priorities by increasing federal research funding by at least 5.2 percent above FY 2015 levels—the same level of increase to discretionary spending."
  • CRA Letter on H.R. 1806 - April 2015
    CRA letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Science Committee concerning the proposed America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806).

Relevant Blog Posts

Defense R&D

Many of the technologies that have enabled our current economic prosperity and increased our national security have their roots in university research supported by DARPA. The Internet, graphical user interfaces, and global positioning systems are all the result of long-term, cutting edge, university based research, supported decades ago by DARPA. The CS community still receives a significant amount of funding from defense related sources and it is vital that the community continue to the how the money is spent and in which directions the research is being taken.

Relevant Documents

Relevant Blog Posts
  • Budget Round-Up: NSF, Defense, and NIST Budget Requests Show Mixed Bag for Research
    To round out the President’s 2017 (FY17) Budget Requests for key science research accounts, which were released in February, we wanted to cover the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense (DOD), and the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST). Combined these three accounts cover the vast majority of the Federal government’s investment in IT and computing research.
  • FY16 Omnibus: A mixed bag for researchers; heads towards passage
    With the introduction of the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus this week, Congress is poised to put the budget to rest for the year. Here are the details of importance to the computing research community.
  • Coalition for National Security Research Releases Statement on Senate Defense Appropriations Bill
    The Coalition for National Security Research (CNSR), a broad-based coalition of 74 members (of which CRA is a member) including industry, research universities and institutes, and scientific and professional associations committed to a strong Defense Science and Technology (S&T) Program, released a statement commending the Senate Appropriations Committee for their work on S. 1558, the […]

CS Education & IT Workforce

Having a highly skilled IT workforce is crucial to America’s economic future, to ensuring our national security, and to maintain our leadership in the world research and development community. In order to assess that workforce, it is crucial that we understand the number of science and engineering degrees granted to American students annually. The flagship publication of CRA is the annual Taulbee Survey, which tracks information on the enrollment, production, and employment of Ph.D.s in computer science and computer engineering and in providing salary and demographic data for CS and CE faculty in North America. CRA takes an active role in disseminating the information collected in the Taulbee Survey to policy makers and other decision makers in Washington. As well, CRA is an active voice for Computer Science education, working with other organizations, both inside and outside the Computer Science community, in order to better prepare Americans for life in a IT-integrated world.

Relevant Documents
Relevant Blog Posts
  • K-12 CS Framework Announced; CRA Endorses!
    Back in January the Computer Science Teacher Association (CSTA), the Association of Computer Machinery (ACM), and Code.org announced an initiative to develop a K-12 Computer Science Framework for use throughout the country’s education system. The plan was to develop a high level framework, not education standards, that states and school districts could use to create individual CS curriculums for their needs and wants. On Monday, the group, which now includes Cyber Innovation Center and the National Math and Science Initiative, announced that they had completed their work and made the framework public.
  • CRA’s CRA-W Urges Continued Support for Diversity Efforts in Capitol Briefing
    At a briefing of the congressional Diversity in Tech Caucus, hosted by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in the Capitol yesterday, CRA-W board member Rebecca Wright explained why efforts to increase the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields — particularly computing — were worthy of continued Federal support. Wright, a professor of computer science […]
  • President Announces Huge New “Computer Science for All” Initiative!
    President Obama used his weekly radio address today to announce a new Computer Science Education initiative that would allow states to take the lead in increasing access to CS in K-12 classrooms. The initiative, which will be included in the President's FY 2017 Budget Request to Congress on February 9th, will designate $4 billion for states available over 3 years, and $100 million directly for districts, to increase access to K-12 computer science education “by training teachers, expanding access to high-quality instructional materials, and building effective regional partnerships.” He will also direct NSF to spend more than $120 million over the next five years to support and train CS teachers.

Cybersecurity R&D

Information technology systems underpin key industries such as telecommunications and financial services, and also play a vital role in the smooth functioning of critical infrastructure and services, such as transportation systems, the electric power grid, and emergency response capabilities. As computer scientists, CRA is concerned how the Federal government approaches the cybersecurity needs of the country and must always be vigilant that the issue is handled with thought and care. We are particularly concerned the research funds at the relevant Executive Branch agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), are adequate to meet the ever-changing needs of this fast-moving field.

Relevant Blog Posts

Internet of Things

Computing technology is rapidly entering another disruptive phase; namely, the Internet of Things. In the same way that the Internet revolutionized access to ideas and information, advances in networked sensing and hardware has revolutionized the way computers can observe and interact with the physical world. Sensing and sensor information processing will have a profound impact. Coupling these systems with advances in machine learning brings dramatic new capabilities including the ability to capture and process tremendous amounts of data, predict behaviors, activities, and the future and manipulate the physical world in response. Physical interaction with “smart systems” will become a common way to manipulate the world around us. Applications of IoT include creating Smart Cities and Smart Homes, in which existing “dumb” infrastructure like roads and buildings becomes intelligent, greatly increasing efficiency and productivity. IoT will transform health care, providing improved, pervasive, and cost-effective health care to millions, including our increasing population of the elderly. This is an area the U.S. cannot afford to cede leadership, and our leadership in this area is not assured. Competition from Asia and the European Union is significant with advances in Smart Cities and Smart Homes outpacing the U.S. The Federal government must be proactive in driving the necessary research, standards, and public/private partnerships to ensure that the greatest benefit is reached with the least negative consequences. Efforts like the Smart Cities and Connected Communities framework developed by NITRD and the recently announced NSF/Intel partnership to secure the IoT should be supported and buttressed where possible.

Relevant Documents

Relevant Blog Posts

Impediments to Research

Impediments to CS research are many. Visa issues and other immigration problems; deemed export restrictions; federal requirements on public access to research data (Open Data) and journal publications (Open Access); and legislation targeting key science funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, are all examples of dangers to research that have come about in Washington. While many of these are unintended, or are wrapped up in larger issues outside the CS community’s expertise, it is still important to monitor what is happening and try to bring attention to bear whenever possible.

Relevant Documents

Relevant Blog Posts
  • PCAST Releases Report on Ensuring US Leadership in Semiconductors
    The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), an independent advisory group of the Nation’s leading scientists and engineers, released a report to the President today on semiconductor innovation, competitiveness, and security. Titled simply, "Ensuring Long-Term U.S. Leadership in Semiconductors," the report looks at the challenges facing the semiconductor community and outlines recommendations for possible actions for the Federal Government to take in order to ensure US leadership in the field.
  • 500+ Organizations Urge Congressional Leaders to Make Strong Investments in Research
    Thirteen different coalitions, representing over 500 individual organizations, who are concerned with the federal investment in research and development, have signed a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, urging them, "to make strong investments in America’s innovation ecosystem one of your highest priorities by increasing federal research funding by at least 5.2 percent above FY 2015 levels—the same level of increase to discretionary spending."
  • Microsoft Research VP to Speak to Congress about Importance of Federal Research Funding
    Jeannette Wing, a corporate vice president at Microsoft Research overseeing the company's core research labs and former CRA board member (and current member of CRA's), has an excellent post on the importance of federally supported fundamental research.
  • Computing Community Weighs in on “Truthy” Controversy
    Five leading computing societies and associations today released a letter they’ve jointly sent to House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and committee Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) expressing their concern over mischaracterizations of research on information diffusion in online social networks at Indiana University. The work has come under fire […]