Senate Commerce and Science Committee Convene Hearings on the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA)

Feb 2, 2018

The Senate this week held a hearing titled “One Year Later: The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act,” with National Science Foundation (NSF) Director Dr. France Cordova and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Director Dr. Walter Copan testifying.

The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA), signed into law in January 2017, reauthorized NSF and NIST for the first time in six years. As the law’s original sponsor, Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) chaired the hearing and asked Director Cordova to discuss the impacts of increasing U.S. contributions to research and development from 0.7 percent of GDP to 2 percent. Director Cordova responded that a significant increase would be “tremendous horsepower for the nation,” citing the prospects of medical advances, new discoveries and remaining competitive with China.

NIST Director Dr. Copan spoke to some of the benefits that a renewed commitment to scientific agencies through AICA provides. In his testimony, Director Copan stated that NIST is prioritizing advanced manufacturing. He explained that since AICA was signed into law, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP)—a public-private partnership responsible for $9.3 billion in sales and 86,602 jobs in 2017—has continued to thrive and increase its reach. When Director Copan was asked to expand on NIST’s efforts to address the critical need for cybersecurity for our small businesses he spoke of the important role of Manufacturing USA Institutes and MEP centers in ensuring DOD supply chain readiness and security. These manufacturing programs provide the framework for the strong partnership between NIST, DOD, and U.S. manufacturers and have specifically provided training to translate NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework into a format small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can utilize. 

Under AICA, NSF has also reaffirmed its commitment to STEM education, establishing the STEM Education Advisory Council in October 2017. Addressing concerns that not enough women and minorities are involved in STEM, Director Cordova praised NSF’s INCLUDES initiative. She also touted the I-Corps as successful in catalyzing the commercialization of basic research and raising $250 million in seed capital.

During the hearing, Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Ranking Member Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) expressed alarm at the 2018 budget’s “slashing” of NSF by 11 percent and NIST by 23 percent. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) pointed out that the current Administration has still not appointed an Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) Director, someone who would have likely testified at this hearing. 

For additional information on Manufacturing USA, visit: https://www.manufacturingusa.com/

To view NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework, visit: https://www.nist.gov/cyberframework

To view the archived video of the hearing, please visit: https://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/hearings?ID=99ED6261-9C59-4B88-9F91-8D60E64787FE