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Vol. 2011, No. 7 (1 June 2011)

CAPITOL HILL

House Hearing Stresses Need for Coordinated R&D Efforts to Enhance Cybersecurity

Opposition to Patent Reform Defies Party Lines

THE WHITE HOUSE

Roundtable Informs Wireless Innovation for Transportation

White House Stresses That Entrepreneurs Key to Fixing Our Broken Immigration System, Announces New Visa Extension for STEM Grads

FEDERAL AGENCY ACTIVITY

LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

U.S. STATES

AWARDS, FELLOWSHIPS & GRANTS

REPORTS, DOCUMENTS OF NOTE & INFO RESOURCES

The Resurgence of the American Automotive Industry

The Difference Between "Spending" & "Investments": New Reports Illustrate That Some Outlays Do Pay Off


CAPITOL HILL

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.


THE WHITE HOUSE

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.


FEDERAL AGENCY ACTIVITY

None at this time.


LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

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Public Policy Position Statements on issues deemed to be of concern to or affecting IEEE's U.S. members. The statements make specific public policy recommendations for the consideration of Congress, the Executive Branch, the Judiciary, representatives of State and Local Government, and other interested groups and individuals, including IEEE members.

IEEE-USA E-Books - To see the latest E-Books, visit our online catalog which includes the 2010 IEEE-USA Salary & Fringe Benefits Survey, the 2010 Profile of IEEE Consultants and two new GovDocs.

Have an Idea For an IEEE-USA E-Book? - If you've got an idea for an e-book that will educate your fellow IEEE members on a particular topic of expertise, e-mail your e-book queries and ideas to IEEE-USA Publishing Manager Georgia Stelluto.

 


U.S. STATES

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.


AWARDS, FELLOWSHIPS & GRANTS

National Science Foundation Recent opportunities include:

Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation (SI2) - SI2 is a long-term investment focused on catalyzing new thinking, paradigms, and practices in developing and using software to understand natural, human, and engineered systems.  SI2's intent is to foster a pervasive cyberinfrastructure to help researchers address problems of unprecedented scale, complexity, resolution, and accuracy by integrating computation, data, networking, observations and experiments in novel ways. It is NSF's expectation that SI2 investment will result in robust, reliable, usable and sustainable software infrastructure that is critical to achieving the CIF21 vision and will transform science and engineering while contributing to the education of next generation researchers and creators of future cyberinfrastructure. Education at all levels will play an important role in integrating such a dynamic cyberinfrastructure into the fabric of how science and engineering is performed.

Engineering Research Centers (ERC) - The goal of the Generation Three (Gen-3) Engineering Research Centers (ERC) Program is to create a culture in engineering research and education that links discovery to technological innovation through transformational fundamental and engineered systems research in order to advance technology and produce engineering graduates who will be creative U.S. innovators in a globally competitive economy. These ERCs will be at the forefront as the U.S. competes in the 21st century global economy where R&D resources and engineering talent are internationally distributed.

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.


REPORTS, DOCUMENTS OF NOTE & INFO RESOURCES

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

Visa Waiver Program: DHS Has Implemented Electronic System for Travel Authorization, but Further Steps Needed to Address Potential Program Risks (GAO-11-335, May 5)

Commercial Launch Vehicles: NASA Taking Measures to Manage Delays and Risks GAO-11-692T, May 26, 2011 Summary (HTML) Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF, 23 pages) Accessible Text

Visa Waiver Program: DHS Has Implemented the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, but Further Steps Needed to Address Potential Program Risks GAO-11-335, May 5, 2011 Summary (HTML) Highlights Page (PDF)   Full Report (PDF, 44 pages) Accessible Text   Recommendations (HTML)

Spectrum Management: NTIA Planning and Processes Need Strengthening to Promote the Efficient Use of Spectrum by Federal Agencies GAO-11-352, Apr 12, 2011 Summary (HTML)  Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF, 77 pages)   Accessible Text   Recommendations (HTML)

Congressional Research Service

China-U.S. Trade Issues

Reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act: Selected Policy Provisions, Funding, and Implementation Issues

Energy Tax Policy: Historical Perspectives on and Current Status of Energy Tax

The Difference Between "Spending" & "Investments": New Reports Illustrate That Some Outlays Do Pay Off

Two new reports provide some of the most compelling evidence yet for the importance of federal investments in science and technology innovation. Amid the bitter and protracted negotiations over the FY2011 federal budget, U.S. investments in science and innovation were largely spared from the deepest cuts some federal programs faced. But Congress continues to consider further spending cuts in the FY2012 budget making it critically important that members of Congress distinguish between federal "spending" and "investments."

What many fiscally conservative lawmakers omit in their zeal to slash spending is that many federal programs actually have positive rates of return, meaning they bring in more revenue—to the government, economy, or both—than they cost the taxpayer. Some federal investments really are profitable and save taxpayer money in the long run. Two reports released this month showed that federal programs have had a positive economic impact.

1) The National Institutes of Health - "An Economic Engine: NIH Research, Employment, and the Future of the Medical Innovation Sector" published by a consortium of science and research medical organizations, looked at the consequences of the public investment in the NIH on employment and economic output. Dr. Everett Ehrlich, the leading business economist and former Clinton-era undersecretary of commerce who authored the study, found that the NIH directly and indirectly supported nearly 488,000 public and private sector jobs, and generated $68 billion in new economic activity in 2010 alone. Meanwhile, NIH research grants in FY 2010 cost the taxpayers only $26.6 billion. This would represent a 150 percent single-year return on public investment, counting total economic output from the research as revenue.

Critics of federal investment in R&D programs often argue that public programs like the NIH crowd out private investment. But a recent study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the opposite is in fact true for the NIH. Each dollar of federal investment leads to a 32-cent increase in private medical research investment as discoveries diffuse out of academia and filter into the market. Another study found that NIH-sponsored research was more likely to be considered "advanced," "novel," or be related to "orphan diseases" than entirely privately funded drug research. This means that the NIH not only supports an ecosystem of business and innovative companies, but the innovation that comes out of this research is more likely to be novel and substantial.

2) The Human Genome Projects -The Battelle Memorial Institute published a second report which looked specifically at the economic impact and return on the federal investment of the Human Genome Project, an iconic federal science research program begun in the late 1980s. The findings say that public investment of $3.8 billion, spread between1988 and 2003, yielded $796 billion in economic output, and created nearly 4 million job-years over the 23-year period examined. In 2010 alone, while it costing the government nothing, this farsighted, bipartisan investment in genomics research added $67 billion to U.S. gross domestic product, created $20 billion in personal income for American families, and sustained 310,000 public and private sector jobs.

The figures are remarkable in and of themselves, but they do not even take into account the intangible fact that these investments lead to innovation in medical treatments, medicines, and technologies that save lives and improve our public health, including cardiovascular treatments, neurotransmitters, and monoclonal antibodies, which were a component in 5 of the top 20 best selling drugs in 2010, generating worldwide revenue of $35 billion.


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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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