On September 13th, 11 computing researchers from across the country visited Washington, D.C. to make the case for federally funded computing research. The volunteers, traveling from as near as Virginia and Pennsylvania, and as far away as Washington and Ohio, participated in nearly 30 House and Senate meetings. Their message to Congress was very simple: Federally supported computing research is vital to the nation’s future. Using their own research and individual stories as support, and reinforced with additional information from CRA, they made the “Federal case” for computing to Members of Congress and their staff. Those Members of Congress now know more about the expertise and interesting (and important) computing work that occurs in their districts and states, and our participants have a sense of just who represents them in Congress. And they’ve hopefully started a lasting dialogue on both sides.
Computing Research News
Articles relevant to Government Affairs.
On Friday, June 29th, the CRA Government Affairs Office welcomed the 2018 class of Eben Tisdale Science Policy Fellows to the CRA office in Washington, D.C. These fellows, undergraduates at universities and colleges from across the United States, spent the summer at high-tech companies, firms, or trade associations in Washington, learning the intricacies of technology policy. This year’s Tisdale Fellow for CRA is Amita Shukla, who is a rising junior at Columbia University, pursuing a major in computer engineering with a minor in political science; she is also a Presidential Global Fellow.
On May 9th, the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), an alliance of over 140 professional organizations, universities, and businesses, held their 24th Annual Capitol Hill Exhibition. CNSF supports the goal of increasing the federal investment in the National Science Foundation’s research and education programs, and the exhibition itself is a great way to show members of Congress and their staff what research the American people have funded. This year CRA, a member of CNSF, sponsored Jingrui He and her graduate student, Dawei Zhou, from Arizona State University.
Though it required negotiations that stretched nearly seven months into the fiscal year it is designed to fund, the FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations act won the approval of a sizable majority in Congress and the reluctant approval of the President at the end of March, providing substantial boosts in Federal spending, including healthy increases to science investments across the government.
Passage of the omnibus bill was made possible by an agreement in February to increase statutory limits on discretionary spending for FY 2018 and FY 2019. That extra spending room ensured that congressional appropriators could boost military spending sufficiently to satisfy a majority of the GOP and increased non-defense spending sufficiently to woo enough congressional Democrats to overcome opposition from the conservative Freedom Caucus in the House. In the end, the 2,000+ page bill boosts Federal discretionary spending to $1.3 trillion in FY 18, and boosts Federal R&D efforts by nearly 13 percent.
While appropriators generally do not spread funding increases evenly throughout the bill, overall, science agencies fare well in the bill, in many cases receiving meaningful increases for the first time in several years.
What a difference a budget deal makes…
The President’s budget request for FY 2019, released yesterday, includes some modest gains and some big losses for Federal science agencies — details below, but on the whole a rather mixed bag for those who believe in the importance of the Federal investment in fundamental research. But it could have been much worse.
On a day when President Donald J. Trump was expected to use his State of the Union address to unveil his administration’s plans for nationwide infrastructure investment, a panel representing computing researchers in academia and industry told a group of congressional staffers and other stakeholders that while those infrastructure needs are critical, it would be shortsighted to simply replicate more of what we have. Instead, they urged, now we have an opportunity to invest in the research and make progress on the policies that would allow for an “intelligent infrastructure” that would provide a foundation for increased safety and resilience, improved efficiencies and civic services, and broader economic opportunities and job growth.
On September 13, 14 computing researchers from across the country visited Washington, D.C. to make the case for federally funded computing research. In all, they participated in nearly 40 House and Senate meetings. Their message to Congress was very simple: Federally supported computing research is vital to the nation’s future. Using their own research and individual stories as support, and helped with additional information from CRA, they made the “federal case” for computing to Members of Congress and their staff.
Social science is instrumental to computing not just to help answer the question of “what can we do?”, but also “what should we do?” As algorithms and autonomous agents become increasingly part of daily life, the issue of algorithm bias, for example, requires much input from both social sciences and humanities. And as the world becomes ever more awash in digital data and as our technology becomes ever more adept at wading through it, social scientists are helping us understand the implications for privacy and offering ways to preserve it.
On Tuesday, July 11, the CRA Government Affairs Office welcomed the 2017 class of Eben Tisdale Fellows to the CRA Washington, DC office. These fellows, all of whom are undergraduates at universities and colleges across the United States, spent the summer at high-tech companies, firms, or trade associations in Washington, learning the intricacies of technology policy. Additionally, they took two class credits at George Mason University, and attended briefings at the U.S. Capitol, Department of State, World Bank, Federal Reserve, and other institutions. The fellows visited the office to attend a presentation by Brian Mosley, CRA’s Office of Government Affairs policy analyst, that covered the policy concerns and issues the association works on and influences at the federal level.
CRA announces the fourth offering of the workshop intended to educate computing researchers on how science policy in the U.S. is formulated and how our government works.