May 18, 2018
Capitol Update

In this issue:


NEW REPORT FINDS DOE’S MANUFACTURING USA INSTITUTES OFFER POTENTIAL TO ACCELERATE TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS TOWARD IMPORTANT NATIONAL GOALS

This week, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) released a new report titled, “Manufacturing USA at DOE: Supporting Energy Innovation.”  The report reviews the progress of DOE’s Manufacturing USA Institutes and makes specific recommendations for the long-term success of the institutes, which include:

  • Congress should continue to fund the institutes that have already been established beyond the current five-year limit;
  • Greater flexibility for institutes in raising and using funds;
  • Increased outreach to small- and medium-sized manufacturers;
  • Strengthened education and training programs for technicians and mid-skill workers; and
  • Better public awareness of their energy-specific missions.

The recommendations were presented at an event at the ITIF headquarters in Washington, DC where authors David M. Hart and Peter I. Singer discussed key findings, followed by a panel of experts discussing potential policy options. The presenters mentioned that the DOE Manufacturing USA institutes are key in addressing “market failures,” noting that certain market failures have led to gaps in the private sector’s response to manufacturing and energy innovation, including:

  • Underinvesting in knowledge and skills;
  • Weak cooperation across supply chains and within regions; and
  • Unfair international competition.

The report notes that these failures have created a problem in the United States that go “beyond obvious externalities that justify an active role for the federal government, such as national security and environmental protection, to include the economic and workforce dimensions.” It also noted that the U.S. manufacturing sector is responsible for a quarter of the energy consumed, which presents a huge opportunity for the United States if we are able to obtain a competitive advantage in these markets and develop them over the coming decades.

The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (now called America Makes) was the first Institute created.  It was led by DOD and cofunded by the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) on the federal side—whose contributions were matched by $50 million of coinvestment from 50 industrial partners, 28 universities and labs, and 16 other organizations. The institute’s membership grew to include 180 organizations in its first five years.

The panel discussion focused on the threat the institutes and their member companies will face if Congress does not act on the recommendations provided. Alain Charles, Vice President of Infineon Technologies Americas Corp., shared his concern for what will happen with the potential Intellectual Property (IP) created at these institutes if the government no longer funds the projects. He was worried that many of the benefits the institutes currently provide, like their ability to connect big businesses with small- and medium-sized businesses they would otherwise never have the opportunity to encounter, would cease as the battle for the IP becomes based on members’ ability to contribute large sums of funds. Additionally, panelists Susan Helper from Case Western Reserve University and Gina Oliver from American Chemistry Council concern for the institutes’ ability to sustain and grow a workforce development component.

Panelists at the event also shared recent success stories from some of the DOE institutes such as IACMI, which can be found here: https://iacmi.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/IACMI-Accomplishments-Jan-2018.pdf.

To read ITIF’s new report on “Manufacturing USA at DOE, please visit: https://itif.org/publications/2018/05/16/manufacturing-usa-doe-supporting-energy-innovation.

Additional information about the Manufacturing USA Institutes is available at https://www.manufacturingusa.com/


DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CAUTIONS AGAINST OFFSHORE DRILLING IN EASTERN GULF, CITING MILITARY TRAINING EXERCISES IN THE AREA

In a new report sent to several House Committees, Michael Griffin, the Department of Defense’s Undersecretary for Research and Engineering, cautioned against offshore oil and natural gas drilling in the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico. The report stated that the drilling would cause issues with Navy and Air Force military exercises being conducted in the area.

As the Department of the Interior moves forward with drafting its new five-year offshore plan at the direction of President Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has struggled to find new drilling locations unencumbered by political opposition. A large area of the Gulf has been blocked for drilling by Congress until 2022, however in his plan for developing the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program) released in January, the President considered the possibility of allowing companies to lease drilling rights in the area in 2023 and 2024. This announcement received significant negative feedback from Florida lawmakers, leading Zinke to rescind it. He repeated this pledge in a recent subcommittee hearing, promising “…no new oil and gas platforms off the coast of Florida.”

While many lawmakers want to keep the area free of drilling, The Hill reports that many drillers have long had their eye on the eastern Gulf. This latest report has been construed by some as leaving the door open for potential opportunities in the future. Randall Luthi, National Offshore Industries Association President said, “The report shows there is a lot of ocean out there and while these will be devils in the details, the overall message from the Pentagon should be interpreted as cooperation and coordination.”

For further information on the National OCS Program, click here: https://www.boem.gov/National-Program/


NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION AND U.S. AIR FORCE ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH

National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Cordova and United States Air Force (USAF) Secretary Heather Wilson recently signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to create a new partnership in scientific and engineering research to advance the state of national security. The LOI initiates a strategic partnership focused on research in four areas of common interest: space operations and geosciences, advanced material sciences, information and data sciences, and workforce and processes.

The partnership will allow the basic research funded by the NSF, along with applied research and advanced technology development, to support and hopefully grow the technologies the USAF relies on. The LOI states that “The Air Force will benefit from greater access to NSF’s considerably larger basic research program and community of researchers. The NSF will benefit with a direct pathway for the technical maturation of many of its research efforts and products, with increased relevance afforded by its direct support of the Nation's defense posture.”

“Ensuring national security through innovation in science and engineering was part of the National Science Foundation’s founding mission nearly seven decades ago, and it remains one of our highest priorities today,” Córdova said. “We look forward to partnering with the Air Force on this collaborative venture and using our combined resources to innovate for the benefit of the nation.”

Initial discussions focused on topics ranging from the convergence of artificial intelligence, data and materials, to placements for fellows from NSF's Graduate Research Intern Program.

To view the LoI, click here: https://www.nsf.gov/news/newsmedia/USAF-NSF_Mutual_Letter_of_Intent.pdf


ADVANCED ROBOTICS FOR MANUFACTURING INSTITUTE RELEASES TECHNOLOGY PROJECT CALL

The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute recently released a second technology project call, supplemental to the original one released in October 2017. ARM is one of 14 Manufacturing USA institutes, member-driven, public-private partnerships and is partially funded by the Department of Defense. The call is for projects falling under one of the eight project areas: Identifying and Packing Objects; Unloading and unpacking objects; Transport and Delivery through a Complex, Crowded Floor; Inspection of Non-standard Materials; Tracking and Traceability of Components; Surface Treatments; Manipulating Compliant Materials; and Software Interoperability.

Organizations must be ARM members to submit concept papers for consideration. Submissions are due by 5pm EST on June 20, 2018, with the full proposal submission due by invitation only at 5pm EST on August 29, 2018.

Additional information on ARM is available at http://arminstitute.org/.  More information on the Project Call can be found here: http://arminstitute.org/tech-project-call-may-2018/#1525369176837-e3a7018c-7622.


AUTOMAKERS AND PRESIDENT MEET TO DISCUSS TRADE AND EMISSIONS STANDARDS

President Trump recently met with top automaker executives to discuss trade and environmental regulations. In addition, the President proposed imposing a tariff on vehicles brought into the U.S. as well as subjecting imported vehicles to stricter emissions standards than vehicles made in the U.S. in an effort to encourage more American vehicle production. The meeting took place as the current administration is considering rolling back fuel efficiency and pollutions standards implemented under the previous administration.

This is a decision that has proven to be quite contentious as automakers and states, notably California, disagree on what is feasible and what makes the most sense. “We are not asking the administration for a rollback,” Ford Chairman Bill Ford explained, “We want California at the table and we want one national standard.”

In addition, the EPA recently ruled that current regulations are too strict, as previously reported in the April 6 edition of Capitol Update. This decision was initially lauded by automakers. But as Bloomberg reported, the administration’s new draft that proposed freezing the standards in 2020 indicated that what the administration wants is more aggressive than what the automakers do. The administration’s draft also proposed limiting California’s ability to set standards that differ from the federal ones, which drew swift rebuke from California Governor Jerry Brown and other state officials and placed automakers in a tough spot.

To view the April 6 edition of Capitol Update, click here: https://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations/policy-publications/capitol-update/april-6-2018-capitol-update

To listen to Sen. Peters discuss the importance of research on economic growth, innovation, and national security, click here: http://www.innovationtaskforce.org/senator-gary-peters-d-michigan-bizforresearch-interview-morning-briefings-tim-farley-on-sirius-xm-potus-radio/

The articles contained in Capitol Update are not positions of ASME or any of its sub-entities, unless specifically noted as such. This publication is designed to inform ASME members about issues of concern being debated and discussed in the halls of congress, in the states and in the federal agencies.

ASME Government Relations
1828 L Street, NW, Suite 810
Washington, DC 20036
Website: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations

Paul Fakes is the Regulatory and Government Relations Manager, Technology Policy. He covers Standards and Energy and Environment.

Samantha Fijacko is the Senior Government Relations Representative. She covers Advanced Manufacturing, Robotics and R&D.

Anne Nadler is the Government Relations Representative. She covers Bioengineering, STEM Education and R&D.