Government Relations Update August 2020
OSTP Announces $1 Billion for AI and Quantum Research Centers
On August 26, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) at the White House announced the commitment over $1 billion of awards for the establishment of seven National Science Foundation (NSF) led Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Institutes and five Department of Energy (DOE) led Quantum Information Science (QIS) Research Centers.
NSF and other federal partners will award $140 million over five years to support AI research at the University of Oklahoma at Norman, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of California at Davis, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. NSF also anticipates making additional awards available in the coming years. Supported research will include a range of areas, including machine-learning, synthetic manufacturing, precision agriculture, and forecasting prediction.
DOE will allocate $625 million over five years to QIS Research Centers led by DOE National Laboratory teams at Argonne, Brookhaven, Fermi, Oak Ridge, and Lawrence Berkley National Laboratories. An additional $300 million in contributions to this effort will come from the private sector and academic institutions. The centers will focus research on topics such as quantum networking, sensing, computing, and materials manufacturing.
Party Platforms Lay Out Future Broadband Plans
Both Democrats and Republicans held their party conventions this month and voted on the approval of their respective party platforms, which include their broadband agendas. The Republican Party elected not to implement a new platform, instead adopting a resolution to continue endorsing the Party’s 2016 platform. The platform focuses primarily on highlighting the need for broadband expansion to rural America and encouraging public-private partnerships to facilitate these connections. Separately, President Trump's campaign released a list of priorities, including one titled, "Win the Race to 5G and Establish a National High-Speed Wireless Internet Network."
The new Democratic Party platform features a number of broadband provisions, including some with an educational focus. Democrats propose increasing federal support for broadband and 5G technology, including rural and municipal broadband networks, while taking action to prevent states from blocking municipalities and rural co-ops from building their own networks. Democrats also support the creation of a national infrastructure bank that will "leverage public and private resources to build infrastructure projects of national or regional significance," including broadband. Finally, the platform contains a commitment to significantly increase federal investment in rural, urban, and Tribal areas to support broadband deployment to "close the digital divide and ensure that students can access educational resources from their homes and schools now and in the future."
With both parties' agendas for broadband and other issues set, the focus now will turn to any additional policy proposals offered by the campaigns of the presidential candidates as the election draws nearer.