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
  • FY21 Update: Senate Releases Numbers in Preparation for Budget Endgame in December
    When last we left the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget process, we were worried about a potentially stalled continuing resolution at the end of September. Luckily, no one wanted to shut down the government just before the November Election; a CR was passed and signed into law. The CR created a new deadline to get a permanent budget into place, which is December 11th. Now with the election behind us, and hoping to jumpstart the process, yesterday the Senate Appropriations Committee released its slate of appropriations bills. Let’s get into the details.
  • Post 2020 Election Analysis: What Happened, What’s Still in Doubt, and How Does It Impact Computing Research?
    November 3rd has passed, but the 2020 Presidential Election is ongoing. While there are quite a lot of unknowns, not least of which is who was elected President, there are some things that we know right now. Additionally, we can point to some key races that are still undecided. What does this mean for federally supported research here in Washington? Let’s get into the details.
  • FY21 Appropriations Update: A Continuing Resolution is Coming but Will it be Passed into Law?
    Despite appearances, Congress has not forgotten about the Fiscal Year 2021 budget. The problem has been the ongoing disagreement on how to respond to the COVID pandemic. Since Congress hasn’t been able to get beyond that issue, it hasn’t been able to focus on other high-level topics. However, the approaching November election, and a desire to not have a government shutdown just before voters go to the polls, has necessitated a continuing resolution (or CR) to be considered.
  • Update on AI Bills in Congress; House Science Committee AI Initiative Act Added to Defense Policy Bill
    There has been a flurry of activity over the last few weeks on a number of AI related pieces of legislation in Congress.
  • President’s Immigration Order is Latest in a Series Vexing Computing Research Community
    On Monday, June 22nd, President Trump issued the latest in a series of immigration and visa related orders designed to limit the involvement of foreign students and researchers, particular those from mainland China, in U.S. research efforts. The order follows a series of other proposals and orders emanating from the White House and Capitol Hill that have raised the ire of higher-education, U.S. industry, and the computing research community over recent weeks.

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
  • Update on AI Bills in Congress; House Science Committee AI Initiative Act Added to Defense Policy Bill
    There has been a flurry of activity over the last few weeks on a number of AI related pieces of legislation in Congress.
  • FY21 Appropriations Update: From a Certain Point of View, the House Numbers for the Defense Department are Good. But They’re Not Good.
    Continuing our review of the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) federal budget, we turn to the House Appropriations Committee's bill for the Department of Defense. DOD'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.
  • Department of Defense FY 2021 Request: With Few Exceptions, this is a Very Bad Budget
    In our continuing series following the Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget request, we now turn to the Department of Defense (DOD). The DOD’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, with few exceptions, most of these accounts are cut under the Trump Administration’s plans for FY21.
  • Budget Update: Got a Little Good News but More Bad News
    When we last discussed the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations, we were hopeful that the process was finally starting to move toward completion. A week later, we have some good news but we also have more bad news.

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