October 27, 2017
Capitol Update

In this issue:


Earlier this week, ASME partnered with the Robotics Caucus Advisory Committee and the Congressional Robotics Caucus to convene a briefing for congressional staff on the anticipated arrival and integration of automated vehicles (AVs) into the nation’s transportation infrastructure.   

The Congressional Robotics Caucus, chaired by Congressman Rob Woodall (R-GA) and Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA), focuses on issues facing the robotics industry, including technological as well as legal and regulatory challenges. Both Congressmen Woodall and Doyle addressed the audience and shared their excitement for the economic and societal benefits AV technology will provide, while also expressing their commitment to addressing policy concerns.

In addition to hearing from the Caucus Co-Chairs, Deputy Assistant Secretary Finch Fulton spoke to the role of the Federal government in integrating AVs. He remarked that the Department recently released new guidelines for automated driving systems in “A Vision for Safety 2.0,” and are already working on version 3.0 to be released in the new year.

After the opening remakes, incoming ASME President Said Jahanmir moderated the panel of experts listed below, who provided their insights on where the government should play a role and what issues the government should be addressing proactively:

  • Chuck Thorpe Ph.D. – ASME Robotics Public Policy Task Force, Chair; Clarkson University, Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences
  • Constantine Samaras – Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Joe Jarzombek – Global manager, Synopsys Software Integrity Group; Synopsys, Inc.

The speakers offered insightful remarks on the specific challenges the government must be thinking about while researchers and industry race towards full AV integration. During the event, it became clear that while the benefits AVs promise are vast, AVs face major societal obstacles as they are integrated into society, such as how to deter malicious activities aimed at connected vehicles, where and to what extent the technology should be utilized, and how to prepare a sufficient infrastructure that moves at the same pace as the technology. All the panelists noted that it is necessary for policymakers to consider these far-reaching impacts as technologists continue to improve and innovate AV capabilities.

To learn more about the Congressional Robotics Caucus please visit: http://roboticscaucus.org/


Secretary Rick Perry recently spoke to Congress about opportunities to update and align Department of Energy’s missions and operations with the emerging energy, national security, environmental, and technological challenges confronting the nation.

At a recent House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing on DOE mission and management priorities, Secretary Perry placed his focus on energy security, including DOE’s efforts to improve the reliability and resiliency of the grid. In this area, much of Perry’s testimony focused on DOE’s recent electricity pricing proposal to FERC.

In his testimony, Perry stated that “thousands of megawatts of fuel-secure generation capacity, including environmentally compliant coal and emission-free nuclear resources, have been prematurely retired before reaching full life expectancy or will be placed into retirement soon.” Losing such capacity, Perry argued, negatively impacts the grid’s resilience especially in an extreme weather situations. These resiliency concerns are why DOE has asked FERC to change market rules so that ‘fuel-secure generation’ is valued for what it is worth and not forced into early retirement.

Perry also touched on topics ranging from DOE funded research and development to the agency’s commitment to long-term nuclear waste storage and nuclear security management.

Secretary Perry’s Testimony is available at:

The recorded hearing is available to view at:


Hurricane Harvey's high winds and flooding are expected to have long-term impact on small and medium-size manufacturers (SMM). The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a program of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), is working to alleviate the challenges facing SMMs in these areas by awarding $3 million to assist them in their recovery.

Two of the MEP National Network Centers, the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center (TMAC) and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership of Louisiana (MEPOL) are providing recovery support to manufacturers who have had physical damage to their facilities, labor shortages, and other disruptions from the aftermath.

“President Trump has made clear that the recovery of the people of Texas and all those affected by the recent hurricanes is a top priority for every department and agency in his administration,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “By coordinating with local leaders, programs such as these provide much-needed support to communities and businesses after a disaster.”

Looking into the future, MEP Centers will work with NIST to develop the best way to disseminate disaster preparedness information and best practices for what manufacturers should do before, during and after a disaster as part of risk mitigation and recovery planning.

To learn more about NIST MEP, visit https://www.nist.gov/mep


Recently, the House Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy, and Environment examined implementation of the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA), which directed the Department of Energy to build and operate a repository for used nuclear fuels and other high-level radioactive waste.  Despite this direction, the United States does not utilize one repository or storage site, leaving nuclear waste sitting at numerous nuclear facilities throughout communities nationwide.

The hearing included discussion on the management of the nation’s increasing amount of nuclear waste, as well as the challenges communities across the country face when dealing with nuclear waste. There were five witnesses from the following organizations: National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Energy Communities Alliance, U.C. San Diego School of Global Policy & Strategy, Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Heritage Foundation.

The NARUC, a nonprofit, whose members are the public utility commissions in all 50 States and the U. S. territories, noted that there are repercussions from the failure of the federal government to fulfill its obligation to take possession of and manage nuclear waste, as well as the government’s failure to develop a long term storage site. For example, taxpayers from every State, even those whose utilities have no stake in nuclear-generated electricity, continue to fund court-awarded damages from the Department of Justice Judgment Fund for the Department of Energy’s partial breach of its contracts with electric companies that required it to take title to used fuel.

When the NWPA was developed and passed, state regulators agreed that users of electricity from nuclear power plants should pay for the federal nuclear waste management and disposal program. Since that time over $40 billion has been paid into the U.S. Nuclear Waste Fund (NWF). Consumers have also paid for the original waste storage at the facilities through their rates, for consolidating used fuel pools for on-site, out-of-pool dry cask storage, and into the Judgment Fund to cover damages caused by the failure of the federal nuclear waste program. 

To read the testimony of all the witnesses and their recommendations to remedy the situation please visit:



A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine says that the Department of Energy should be placing a higher priority on developing an accurate and actionable inventory of agency-owned or managed properties that can be leased or sold for use in energy development.

The report also outlines a strategy for this assessment, which includes:   

  • Engage developers of energy projects and infrastructure to take commercial best practices into account when managing the disposition or use of federal lands. 
  • Put in place the administrative procedures needed to make these lands available to developers.
  • Use the information gathered during prior phases to improve its estimates of the costs and benefits of developing its properties for energy projects. Once properties with the most promising cost-benefit profiles are identified, solicitations should be made for commercial input to begin actual development of energy projects.

Constrained by limited data and budgets, the analysis provided insights into the type of energy resources that could be developed at certain sites but failed to settle the question of which sites have the greatest potential for cost-effective development. The report concluded that Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) as the main determinant of the potential for energy resource development on DOE lands is flawed. Rather site-specific analyses for individual technologies and resources are needed.

Read more: https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24825/utilizing-the-energy-resource-potential-of-doe-lands


The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) is led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NICE sought views about the scope and sufficiency of efforts to educate and train the nation’s workforce to meet current and future private and public sector cybersecurity needs to fulfill a May 11, 2017, executive order issued by President Trump on strengthening cybersecurity. 

A report will be due to the President with findings and recommendations regarding how to support the growth and sustainment of the Nation's cybersecurity workforce in both the public and private sectors. NIST also conducted a workshop in the summer in Chicago, Illinois, to gain further public input to the assessment and recommendations regarding the cybersecurity workforce development.

The Governor of Virginia also announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia is the first state to formally adopt the new NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework and incorporate it into existing cyber security education and hiring efforts. “Adding this framework to our current efforts led by the Secretaries of Technology, Education, Commerce and Trade, and Administration will strengthen the commonwealth’s ability to address the high demand for skilled cyber security professionals and enhance our position as a global leader in cyber security,” Governor McAuliffe said.

The proceedings of the public workshop are available for viewing at:

Additional information concerning the NICE Framework is available here:


Neuroinflammation is a pathological feature of many central nervous system diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease, as well as part of the brain injury, and neuropsychiatric disorders. 

A public workshop was held by the Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine early this year to explore and advance efforts to identify biomarkers of neuroinflammation that could be used in clinical development and regulatory decision making.

At the workshop worked on key questions that needed to be addressed as a field to develop tractable biomarkers of neuroinflammation to assess the progression of a disease or its therapeutic efficacy, thereby furthering the development of therapeutics.  Questions such as what are the unique features of neuroinflammation in acute versus chronic disease states and are there different phenotypes that are important to measure in those conditions?

The proceedings are available for download: https://www.nap.edu/read/24854/chapter/1

Visit the ASME Public Policy Education Center at http://ppec.asme.org/ for daily news and policy developments, including the following:

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