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
  • Appropriations Update: NSF, NIST, and NASA do well in FY19 Senate Bill
    Continuing CRA’s tracking of the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) appropriations process, we turn to the Senate’s Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee marked up their version of the CJS bill on June 14th (by June 28th, the Committee finished marking up all 12 subcommittees’ bills, a 30-year record for timeliness). The CJS bill includes funding for NSF, NIST, and NASA, which are of the most concern to the computing community, along with funding for the Department of Justice. While the attention surrounding this bill has been dominated by immigration issues concerning the Department of Justice, science and computing research have fared relatively well.
  • Appropriations Update: Department of Energy does well in FY2019 Bills
    [Editor’s Note: This post was written by CRA’s new Tisdale Policy Fellow for Summer 2018, Amita Shukla.] Continuing CRA’s tracking of the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) appropriations process, we pick up with coverage of the Energy and Water Appropriations bills. This is the annual appropriations bill that funds the Department of Energy (DOE) and all […]
  • 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.
  • Good early news for FY 19 Appropriations for Science
    Congress has taken its first steps at setting funding levels for FY19 and at first glance, it looks positive for some key science agencies. The House Appropriations committee last week passed it’s version of the FY19 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations and included a 5.2 percent overall increase for NSF, including a 5.0 percent increase to […]

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
  • Science Fares Well in Final FY 2018 Spending Bill
    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 […]
  • Appropriations Update: FY 18 House and Senate Numbers for Defense Research
    In our continuing series looking at the House and Senate appropriations moves for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY2018), we turn to the Defense Appropriations bills. Just before the Thanksgiving break, the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee released their version of the bill; the House had passed their version back at the end of June.
  • First Look: President Trump’s FY18 Budget Request is Rough for Science
    Today President Trump released a more detailed budget request for FY 2018, a follow up to the “skinny” budget released in March, and science agencies fare pretty poorly (as do a lot of other government programs), though U.S. efforts to develop “exascale” computing capabilities were prioritized. Here are some quick details:  The National Science Foundation would see a cut […]
  • Defense Research in the FY17 Omnibus
    Earlier this week, we published a breakdown of the research agencies in the Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus spending bill that had been agreed to by both political parties in Congress. There was one significant research agency that was left out of that breakdown: the Department of Defense (DOD). As one would expect, given President Trump's campaign pledge to increase defense spending, DOD did relatively well in the agreement, with Defense Science and Technology (DOD S&T) accounts being no exception.

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
  • 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.
  • Another Source of Funding at the Department of Education Opens for CS Education!
    Late last week, the Department of Education announced its Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grant program for 2018. This is the second program (including the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program) which supports the Administration’s policy of dedicating $200 million to STEM and CS within DOEd.
  • Make Computer Science a Priority within the Department of Education, CRA and Computing Community Tell Administration
    Yesterday, CRA joined with many other members of the computing community in submitting a public comment on the recently issued proposed grant funding priorities at the Department of Education. In the comment, we argued that computer science education should be made a higher priority in the grant making process at the department and that expanding access to CS to traditionally underserved students should be a priority in itself (it is listed as a sub-priority in the department's list). CRA's full comment is below.
  • White House Announces $200 million in FY18 Funds for Computer Science Education Efforts
    The White House today announced its intention to see $200 million in grant funding directed towards STEM and computer science education in FY 2018.
  • Travel Ban v. 2.0
    On Monday, President Trump issued a new executive order designed to suspend immigration to the U.S. from six countries considered either state-sponsors of terrorism or homes to terrorist activities, for 90 days beginning March 16, 2017.

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
  • 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"
  • 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 […]