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

Relevant Blog Posts
  • Get to Know a Budget Deal: What the New Budget Deal Means and How Does it Impact Research?
    As we reported in the House Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) Defense appropriations post, the Trump Administration and Congressional leaders were homing in on a budget agreement. Well, it sounds like a deal has been struck. This would provide top-line numbers for both defense and non-defense appropriations spending for FY20 and FY21, in addition to lifting the debt ceiling. All this would mean the Senate’s long delayed work on FY20 appropriations bills could start to move forward. Let’s get into the details.
  • Appropriations Update: House Defense FY20 R&D Numbers are Better than the Administration’s, but are not Great
    In our continuing series looking at the House of Representative’s actions on Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20), we turn to the House Defense Appropriations bill, which was passed in June. The Department of Defense’s Science and Technology (DOD S&T) program is made up of three accounts: 6.1 (basic research), 6.2 (applied research), and 6.3 (advanced technology development). These accounts are themselves made up of individual accounts for each of the three services (Army, Navy, and Air Force), as well as a Defense Wide account. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is a section under the Defense Wide account. Unfortunately, the numbers that the House settled on for these accounts are not good, but they are better than what the Administration requested.
  • Appropriations Update: House FY20 Energy & Water Bill is out and there are Reasons for Optimism
    In June, the House of Representatives passed their version of the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) Energy and Water appropriations bill, including increases for some key computing programs at Department of Energy. This bill contains the budgets for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE SC) and ARPA-E, as well as funding for the Exascale Computing R&D program, for which DOE is the lead federal agency. While the increases are probably positive news for the computing research community, uncertainty about overall Federal spending levels likely puts these specific appropriations levels in doubt. Nevertheless, the bills at least send a signal about the areas House Democrats see as priorities for the Federal government in FY20.
  • Appropriations Update: House Numbers for NSF, NIST, and NASA are out and they are quite good!
    Congress has begun the yearly appropriations process, divvying up tax-payer dollars to the assorted federal agencies. As is the norm, the House Appropriations Committee has begun its work first. The bill of most importance to the CS and IT research community is the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) bill; it contains the funding for the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and NASA. And there is good news: increases all around!

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
  • Get to Know a Budget Deal: What the New Budget Deal Means and How Does it Impact Research?
    As we reported in the House Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) Defense appropriations post, the Trump Administration and Congressional leaders were homing in on a budget agreement. Well, it sounds like a deal has been struck. This would provide top-line numbers for both defense and non-defense appropriations spending for FY20 and FY21, in addition to lifting the debt ceiling. All this would mean the Senate’s long delayed work on FY20 appropriations bills could start to move forward. Let’s get into the details.
  • Appropriations Update: House Defense FY20 R&D Numbers are Better than the Administration’s, but are not Great
    In our continuing series looking at the House of Representative’s actions on Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20), we turn to the House Defense Appropriations bill, which was passed in June. The Department of Defense’s Science and Technology (DOD S&T) program is made up of three accounts: 6.1 (basic research), 6.2 (applied research), and 6.3 (advanced technology development). These accounts are themselves made up of individual accounts for each of the three services (Army, Navy, and Air Force), as well as a Defense Wide account. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is a section under the Defense Wide account. Unfortunately, the numbers that the House settled on for these accounts are not good, but they are better than what the Administration requested.
  • Fiscal Year 2019 Update: Most of the Budget is Done…Except for what’s Most Important for Researchers
    It’s been a busy September from a Congressional appropriations perspective. As of this writing, nine of the twelve appropriations bills have passed, including the Defense, Energy and Water, and Labor-Health and Human Services (HHS) bills – a productive pace not seen from Congress in many years. While it’s good these were passed into law, and they do cover some important research agencies, left unfinished is one key bill of concern to the computing research community -- the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations bill, which includes funding for NSF, NIST, NOAA and NASA; more on that in a moment. Until then, here are the details of the pieces of legislative that have passed.

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

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
  • 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
  • “This Is a Moral Issue”: Hearing Calls Attention to Sexual Harassment in Science
    On Wednesday, June 12 the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee convened a hearing, titled Combating Sexual Harassment in Science, to explore what the federal research agencies are, and are not, doing to confront sexual and gender harassment in the Federal research community. The committee received important insights regarding the measures that have been implemented across different Federal agencies and research fields. Though the committee agreed that the agencies need to do more to confront this issue, there was not a consensus on specific policies Congress wants to see.
  • CRA Statement Concerning New Restrictions on Chinese Graduate Students in the U.S.
    The Computing Research Association, representing more than 200 Ph.D.-granting departments of computing in North America, expresses great concern at new guidance provided to U.S. consular officers that would place restrictions on students from China who wish to study robotics, advanced manufacturing, or aerospace research in the United States.
  • CRA Expresses Concern at New Executive Order Suspending Visas
    The Computing Research Association released the following statement in response to President Trump's new Executive Order, "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States"