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.

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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.

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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.

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  • House of Representatives Passes NSF & DOE Science Legislation by Wide, Bipartisan Margins
    Last week, the full House of Representatives passed the National Science Foundation for the Future Act (H.R. 2225) and the DOE Science for the Future Act (H.R. 3593). Both bills passed by wide, bipartisan margins; the NSF bill passed on a 345-67 vote, while the DOE SC bill passed by 351-68. The bills now head into a conference process with the Senate’s United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021.
  • Tale of Two Bills: Competing Visions of NSF’s Future Make Their Way Through Congress
    Over the last two months, competing visions of the future of the National Science Foundation have been making their way through the House and Senate. And much like the famous opening line of Tale of Two Cities, their paths could not be more dissimilar. On the House side, the National Science Foundation for the Future Act has made deliberative and bipartisan progress through the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Meanwhile, on the Senate side, the Endless Frontier Act has been introduced; pulled, reworked, and reintroduced; heavily amended during a marathon Senate Commerce Committee hearing; and is now before the full Senate undergoing another round of amendments. Very different paths.
  • CRA Statement on the Introduction of the Bipartisan National Science Foundation for the Future Act
    The Computing Research Association applauds the bipartisan effort to increase dramatically investments in American science and technology research at the National Science Foundation through the introduction of the National Science Foundation for the Future Act (H.R. 2225).
  • Three New Immigration Rule Changes from the Trump Administration; All Likely to Impact the Computing Research Community
    The Trump Administration continues to issue regulatory rule changes that impact the US higher education and research communities. Regular readers of the Policy Blog will recall that earlier this year the Administration issued multiple proclamations and other policy changes, with regard to legal immigration that impacted the US research community in some way. While the Administration backed off in some of these instances, they never did so completely; in fact, the rhetoric and desire to make lasting changes to the American immigration system remained.

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.

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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.

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  • Computing Researchers Make the Case for Intelligent Infrastructure at Congressional Briefing
    On a day when President Donald J. Trump is 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 […]
  • NSF Funded IoT Security Research Excites at the 2017 CNSF Exhibition
    On May 16th, the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), an alliance of over 140 professional organizations, universities, and businesses, held their 23rd 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.
  • New Report Identifies Fundamental Research Needs for Advancing Internet of Things & Cutting-Edge Innovations
    A new report, titled, "Rebooting the IT Revolution: A Call to Action," produced by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), calls for, "a targeted and coordinated government initiative similar to that which sparked the semiconductor revolution fifty years ago."

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
  • Three New Immigration Rule Changes from the Trump Administration; All Likely to Impact the Computing Research Community
    The Trump Administration continues to issue regulatory rule changes that impact the US higher education and research communities. Regular readers of the Policy Blog will recall that earlier this year the Administration issued multiple proclamations and other policy changes, with regard to legal immigration that impacted the US research community in some way. While the Administration backed off in some of these instances, they never did so completely; in fact, the rhetoric and desire to make lasting changes to the American immigration system remained.
  • CRA Statement on Presidential Proclamation Concerning Visas for Chinese Scholars in the U.S.
    We oppose the banning of any foreign student or researcher unless there is clear evidence of their personal connection to wrongdoing. Indiscriminate large-scale banning of students and researchers from any particular country deprives the U.S. research enterprise of contributions by international scholars, most of whom are not involved in IP theft or espionage.