What's New @ IEEE-USA - Eye On Washington
House Hearing Stresses Need for Coordinated R&D Efforts to Enhance Cybersecurity
Recently, the House Science Committee's Subcommittees on Technology and Innovation (T&I), and Research and Science Education (R&SE) held a joint hearing to review the Administration's cybersecurity legislative plan, the 2009 Cyberspace Policy Review, and to discuss whether the multi-billion dollar Federal investment in cybersecurity should place greater emphasis on coordination of research and development between the various agencies to more effectively achieve long-term security. Cybersecurity R&D efforts include working to prevent cyber attacks, detect attacks as they are occurring, respond to attacks effectively, mitigate severity, recover quickly, and identify responsible parties.
"Since so many agencies have cybersecurity responsibilities, and federal efforts in this area are growing, I am concerned that agencies may actually compete with each other for cyber ownership” said T&I Chairman Ben Quayle (R-AZ). "Congress must ensure that agencies are working collaboratively to avoid duplication and inefficient use of precious taxpayer funds.” Quayle also stressed the value of standards in cybersecurity and the need to ensure that any comprehensive legislation leverages the expertise of all federal assets.
R&SE Chairman Mo Brooks (R-AL) echoed the need for close oversight, saying, "Our role in Congress is to ensure that Federal investments are made wisely, and once made, investments must produce significant value for the nation."
In reviewing the activities of the agencies' cybersecurity programs, the hearing specifically focused on how each agency is addressing: objectives of the 2009 Cyberspace Policy Review; efforts to educate and develop the necessary cybersecurity personnel; and how standards development is coordinated with other relevant agencies.The White House released the Cyberspace Policy Review in May and recommended an increased level of interagency cooperation among all departments and agencies, specifically highlighting the need for information sharing concerning attacks and vulnerabilities.The review also addressed the need for an exchange of research and security strategies essential to the efficient and effective defense of Federal computer systems. Moreover, it stressed advancing cybersecurity R&D to guarantee a secure and reliable infrastructure, through partnering Federal Government efforts with the private sector.
Since the release of the Cyberspace Policy Review, NITRD has provided leadership in coordinating Federal unclassified R&D. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been tasked with monitoring Federal civilian networks for cyber attacks and coordinating the gathering and dissemination of information on cyber attacks to Federal agencies and private industry. NIST currently develops cybersecurity standards for non-national security Federal information technology systems; and NSF serves as Co-Chair to NITRD and, acts as the principal agency supporting unclassified cybersecurity research and development, education, and the development of cybersecurity professionals.
At the hearing, Michael McCaul (R-TX) expressed his intent to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to enhance the 2002 Cybersecurity R&D Act. The legislation will be similar to a failed bill he cosponsored with Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) in the 111th Congress.
The following witnesses testified:
Dr. George Strawn, Director, National Coordination Office, Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program, said that R&D will be essential not only to better meet existing vulnerabilities, but also to work toward addressing emerging threats and developments.Strawn also stressed the importance of coordination in reducing duplication of efforts. "The coordination of such research and development, and the transition to practice of its successful results, are key components of the NITRD contributions to improving cybersecurity."
Dr. Farnam Jahanian, Assistant Director, Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering, National Science Foundation, stressed the importance R&D has on the nation's future, "With robust sustained support for cyber security research and development in both the executive and legislative branches, there is a unique opportunity to protect our national security and enhance our economic prosperity for decades to come."
Ms. Cita Furlani, Director, Information Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Rear Admiral Michael A. Brown, Director, Cybersecurity Coordination, Department of Homeland Security, emphasized that Americans depend on cyber infrastructure. "It is important to recognize that we do not undertake cybersecurity for the sake of security itself, but rather to ensure that government, business and critical societal functions can continue to use the information technology and communications infrastructure on which they depend."
Opposition to Patent Reform Defies Party Lines
Opponents - include IEEE-USA - of the currently drafted language of legislation to overhaul our patent laws are marshalling forces in the House in advance of expected floor action on the measure. While Republican leaders have included the HR 1249 - the mis-named America Invents Act, introduced by Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) - on their so-called "job creation" legislative agenda, Smith and his allies must overcome significant bipartisan opposition to get the bill passed.
Supporters of HR 1249 are confident the bill, which is very similar to a Senate-passed measure (S 23), will pass the House. However, stakeholders are gathering in a trail mix coalition of Republican and Democratic opponents. There is much bipartisan unrest over provisions in the bill that threaten future innovation in the United States and result in a job killing environment that sends jobs overseas.
Additionally, opponents claim that by taking away patent rights from the inventor who first invents an idea and giving them to the first person to race to the patent office, we are running counter to the specific constitutional guarantee of patent rights for "authors and inventors." California Republican Dana Rohrabacher and Ohio Democrat Marcy Kaptur unveiled a letter to the Rules Committee during a Capitol Hill news conference this week, listing the names of members from both parties who ask that before HR 1249 receives any floor consideration, the House provide for at least 20 minutes to debate the constitutionality of the measure. They also argue that Smith’s legislation increases costs for individual inventors, and that provisions for reviewing the validity of issued patents could leave patents mired in bureaucratic processes for years.
Smith continues to express confidence last week that his bill will garner broad support in the House, including from a majority of the GOP caucus. "The likely enactment of patent reform legislation does not mean that we should let criticism go unaddressed,” Smith said last week. "I will continue to provide guidance to members of Congress as we prepare for floor consideration to ensure they have accurate information about this important legislation."
Opponents are offering legislation that would strip HR 1249 of all provisions save for the sections that receive universal support - an end to fee diversion for the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Roundtable Informs Wireless Innovation for Transportation - On May 27th, as part of President Obama’s Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative -- a number of top technology leaders and visionaries representing the transportation and communications industries came to the White House Conference Center for a roundtable discussion.
White House Stresses That Entrepreneurs Key to Fixing Our Broken Immigration System, Announces New Visa Extension for STEM Grads
President Obama called for a national conversation on how to fix our broken immigration system so it works for the 21st Century economy. Recently, 25 entrepreneurs -- drawn from the local business community and attendees of the Big Omaha conference -- engaged in a discussion, and shared personal stories of hope and frustration with the current immigration system. Given the high-tech focus of many of the entrepreneurs in the room, the message was clear -- if we are to effectively compete in the global economy, we need access to the very best talent our communities can attract, especially in regions that lack the kind of talent concentration one finds in areas like Silicon Valley or Austin, TX.
Nick Hudson, a British-born entrepreneur three times described the Omaha community as very welcoming of immigrants, despite the difficulties of navigating the US immigration system. Another immigrant entrepreneur whose daughter successfully completed a master's degree in engineering - precisely the kind of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) training the President has emphasized as key to our economic future - discussed how she lacked a clear pathway to join the US workforce.
To that end, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced in May, an expanded list of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degree programs that qualify eligible graduates on student visas for an Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension-an important step forward in the Obama administration's continued commitment to fixing our broken immigration system and expand access to the nation's pool of talented high skilled graduates in the science and technology fields.
None at this time.
Stateline.org - If you like to keep up with what's going on in state politics, StateLine.org provides a good overview of the activities in all 50 state legislatures. Stateline.org's annual report on state trends and policy, "State of the States 2009" is now available. The report is full of helpful graphics and maps, in addition to reports on the most significant developments in the 50 states.
National Science Foundation Recent opportunities include:
National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program - Deadlines for Electrical Engineering and Computer Science were in November 2010. Check back later this year for 2012 deadlines.
IEEE Educational Programs, Scholarships, Fellowships & Student Grants Funds - With contributions from generous sponsors around the world, the IEEE Foundation seeks to increase the understanding of how technologies are created and how they impact society, individuals, and the environment. Interdisciplinary in its activities, and transnational in scope, the IEEE Foundation has the potential to improve people's lives in every country.
AAAS GrantsNet Express - A weekly American Association for the Advancement of Science listing of science funding opportunities from private foundations and organizations, and new U.S. government grant announcements in the sciences. AAAS will send GrantsNet by e-mail to AAAS member subscribers.
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Solicitations - The majority of EERE financial opportunities are for business, industry, and universities.
Grants.gov - The President's 2002 Fiscal Year Management Agenda established grants.gov as a central storehouse for information on over 1,000 grant programs. The site provides access to approximately $400 billion in annual awards. Most agencies, such as the DOE's Office of Science, use only grants.gov to list all funding opportunities. Other funding opportunities of interest include the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and NASA.
AAAS: Communicating Science, Tools for Scientists & Engineers - Scientists and engineers who foster information-sharing and respect between science and the public are essential for the public communication of and engagement with science. Although traditional scientific training typically does not prepare scientists and engineers to be effective communicators outside of academia, funding agencies are increasingly encouraging researchers to extend beyond peer-reviewed publishing and communicate their results directly to the greater public. In response to this need in science communications, the AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology has partnered with the National Science Foundation to provide resources for scientists and engineers, both online and through in-person workshops to help researchers communicate more broadly with the public.
The Resurgence of the American Automotive Industry - The White House released a report that highlights the resurgence of the American auto industry. The report discusses the jobs created in the sector, the turnaround of the companies that are now turning a profit, and how entire communities have been revitalized by a strengthened auto industry.
Government Accountability Office
Congressional Research Service
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What's New @ IEEE-USA's Eye on Washington highlights important federal legislative and regulatory developments that affect U.S. engineers and their careers. In addition to this biweekly newsletter, subscribers receive legislative bulletins and action alerts on IEEE-USA priority issues, including: retirement security, employment benefits, research & development funding, computers and information policy, immigration reform, intellectual property protection and privacy of health/medical information.
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