Provisions Support Security Supply Chain, U.S. Competitiveness
On July 27, the Chips and Science Act of 2022 cleared its final hurdle with passage in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill now moves to President Biden’s desk for his signature, following 18 months of negotiations over the final provisions of the measure to boost U.S. competitiveness globally in science and technology and within key industry sectors. The full text and helpful summaries can be found here.
What does this mean for the security industry? The final measure addressed several key priorities and requests detailed in the Security Industry Association’s (SIA’s) April 11 letter to House and Senate negotiators:
Bolstering U.S. Manufacturing
- Full Funding for the CHIPS Act. The bill includes a total of $52 billion in grants and incentives for U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, including $39 billion in incentives for building and modernizing U.S. semiconductor production capabilities in the U.S., and the rest for related research and workforce development. While this initiative is expected to take several years before significant impact on supply chains, it promises more long-term stability for in the market for microelectronic components that are key to many current and future planned security products.
- Expansion of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program (MEP). The measure triples funding for the U.S. Department of Commerce Manufacturing Extension Partnership program to support small and medium-sized manufacturers with cybersecurity, workforce training and supply chain resiliency and in other areas, from which a number of firms in the security industry have benefited. The bill also directs the creation of a National Supply Chain Database, leveraging MEP to assist the businesses with supplier scouting and minimizing supply chain disruptions. SIA supported additional language under the MEP Competitive Awards Program that encourages greater participation in in public-private partnerships from historically Black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, minority-serving institutions, community colleges and secondary schools and colleges in underserved and rural communities.
Assistance for U.S. Developers in Key Technology Areas
The Chips and Science Act authorizes the largest five-year public investment in research and development in the nation’s history. A centerpiece of this investment is $20 billion for a new organization within the National Science Foundation – the Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP), tasked with accelerating “domestic development of national and economic-security critical technologies.”
This initiative will provide new opportunities for U.S. businesses in this effort to strengthen U.S. leadership in advanced technologies, both through direct grants and research and development partnerships, especially in industries driven by artificial intelligence, biometrics, cybersecurity and robotics.
Eligible projects will involve an initial list of 10 “Key Technology Focus Areas” established in the bill that can be adjusted annually by TIP. Within this list are many areas of interest within the security industry:
- Artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomy and related advances
- High-performance computing, semiconductors and advanced computer hardware and software
- Quantum information science and technology
- Robotics, automation and advanced manufacturing
- Natural and anthropogenic disaster prevention or mitigation
- Advanced communications technology and immersive technology
- Biotechnology, medical technology, genomics and synthetic biology
- Data storage, data management, distributed ledger technologies and cybersecurity, including biometrics
- Advanced energy and industrial efficiency technologies, such as batteries and advanced nuclear technologies, including but not limited to for the purposes of electric generation (consistent with section 15 of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950 (42 U.S.C. 1874)
- Advanced materials science, including composites 2D materials, other next-generation materials and related manufacturing technologies
Prior to Senate passage earlier this year, the list of key focus areas was amended to include #8 above for “data storage, data management, distributed ledger technologies and cybersecurity, including biometrics,” an addition strongly supported by SIA and originally proposed by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.).
Testing, Evaluation and Standards
The bill doubles authorized funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology to nearly $10 billion annually. The authorization additionally included two key provisions supported by SIA.
- Codifying NIST’s biometrics testing programs. The bill includes a robust statutory authorization which provides NIST the direction it needs to expand its testing infrastructure to capture additional modalities and cloud-based applications, more thoroughly evaluate performance of biometrics across demographic variables, test the full range of available algorithms and partner with agencies that deploy biometric identification systems in the field. These activities are critical to establishing benchmarks developers need to continue to improve technologies both for government and commercial use.
- Establishing federal biometric performance standards. The bill directs the establishment of performance standards and guidelines for “high-risk” biometric identification systems, including facial recognition systems, accounting for various use cases, types of biometric identification systems and relevant operational conditions. There has been a longstanding interest among biometric technology developers in establishing such standards. The initiative has the potential to provide application-specific validation of the performance of biometric technologies, which could be useful to developers, end users and stakeholders alike, and help ensure such technologies are being leveraged in effective, accurate and nondiscriminatory ways.
Though not included in the final measure, SIA supported House provisions to establish a $45 billion U.S. Department of Commerce grant and loan program to address supply chain concerns, and create a Technology Partnership Office at the U.S. Department of State to further help position the United States and its allies as global technological leaders, as well as a Senate provision to reestablish a fair and transparent Section 301 tariff exclusion process that could assist U.S. manufacturers with supply of key components.
SIA strongly supports this extraordinary level of financial assistance that will help to address long-term supply chain challenges and further position U.S. manufacturers as leader in developing cutting-edge technologies that impact our society and security.
We applaud passage of the Chips and Science Act of 2022 and remain committed to promoting policies that support innovation in security and life safety technologies and supports U.S. global leadership in key technology areas.