Congress has been busy in 2022 on a number of fronts, not least in the areas of technology and cybersecurity. As the 117th Congress wraps up and the 118th Congress gets ready to take over in early January 2023, here’s a look at some of the most important pieces of tech legislation in 2022.
The Chips and Science Act
The Chips and Science Act, signed into law on Aug. 9, focuses on expanding the United States’ ability to manufacture semiconductor chips domestically, and lower reliance on foreign made chips.
The legislation received bipartisan support, with the House approving the measure by a vote of 243-187, and the Senate approving with a vote of 64-33. Many of the legislation’s provisions came from the USICA/COMPETES legislation that failed earlier in the year to clear a House-Senate conference committee.
The legislation includes $52 billion of funding focused on incentivizing manufacturers to invest in building semiconductor plants across the United States. The law also includes billions more for Federal research and development, and for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a technology directorate.
Inflation Reduction Act
The Inflation Reduction Act passed on Aug. 16 aims to help the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rebuild its antiquated technology systems and networks.
The legislation gives the IRS $80 billion over ten years for a rebuilding effort, including $5 billion slated for “business systems modernization,” aimed at boosting the agency’s three-year-old IT modernization plan, which had already received $275 million from the fiscal year 2022 budget and a one-time shot of $1 billion under the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021. The IRS’s systems date to as far back as the 1960s, which has drawn criticism from lawmakers concerned about the use
The bill passed the House by a small margin of 220-207, and many of the provisions in the legislation deal with non-tech issues including climate change efforts.
The Veteran Affairs Electronic Health Record Transparency Act
The Veteran Affairs Electronic Health Record Transparency Act was signed into law by President Biden on June 23, and aims to help increase the amount of transparency at the agency’s EHRM system program, whose development and rollout has been problematic.
The main focus of the law is to require the VA to give periodic reports on program metrics such as costs, performance and outcomes to help keep the program accountable to veterans.
The legislation was originally introduced last year by Sen Jerry Moran, R-Kan., ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, after serious concerns surfaced about the program. “Now that this legislation has been signed into law, we can make certain the VA is providing the proper transparency throughout the EHRM implementation,” the senator said. “This will better allow the committee to conduct oversight during the deployment process to ensure veterans receive the care they deserve and hold the VA accountable for taxpayer dollars.”
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Extension Act of 2022
The law was signed by President Biden on Sept. 30, and focuses on strengthening commercial partnerships between the federal government and private firms.
The bill also created a due diligence program that helps deter program applicants that may pose a “potential risk” due to foreign ties. According to the White House, the programs also established “minimum performance standards for firms that have won a certain number of awards during a specified period of time.”
“America’s innovators, scientists and entrepreneurs will have another three years of certainty as they continue to create opportunities which lead to jobs and equity in our nation’s innovation economy,” stated Isabella Casillas Guzman, who heads the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Omnibus Appropriations Bill
President Biden signed this piece of legislation into law on March 15 after it passed both the Senate and the House with bipartisan support.
The spending bill featured many substantial cybersecurity and technology measures including bumping up the budget of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to $2.6 billion.
Among other items, the bill included:
- An $11 million increase for the Multi-State Information and Analysis Center, bringing funding for the information sharing and analysis center designed to share cyber threats, vulnerability, and analysis across state lines to $38 million for FY2022;
- An additional $20 million to begin to build out a Next-Generation 9-1-1 ecosystem program; and
- A $47.6 million increase in funding for Next-Generation Networks Priority Services.
Promoting Rigorous and Innovative Cost Efficiencies for Federal Procurement and Acquisitions (PRICE) Act of 2021
Early in the year President Biden signed the Promoting Rigorous and Innovative Cost Efficiencies for Federal Procurement and Acquisitions (PRICE) Act of 2021 which aims to promote best practices for acquisition and procurement practices.
The bill helps boost the number of opportunities that small businesses have to partner with the Federal government on contracting opportunities; historically, some agencies have been reluctant to work with smaller organizations. The legislation also requires the Management Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to compile and publish an annual report on successful projects that utilized innovative procurement techniques.
Artificial Intelligence Training for The Acquisition Workforce Act
On Oct. 17 President Biden signed legislation geared to enhancing the Federal workforce’s capabilities and understanding of AI technology titled “Artificial Intelligence Training for the Acquisition Workforce Act.”
The legislation requires that the Office and Management (OMB) provide regular updates to its AI training program and consult with scholars and experts of AI technology on promoting best practices.
“When the government purchases AI to improve government functions, we need to know that the AI we buy actually works and meets standards for ethics and safety,” stated Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a sponsor of the legislation.
Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act
The Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act signed into law by President Biden on Dec. 21 encourages government agencies to implement technologies that will help them maintain protections against decryption via quantum computing.
The legislation requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to begin migrating many Federal agencies towards IT systems that are suitable for protecting against quantum cryptography. The legislation also requires the White House to create a report that outlines areas of cryptography weakness in the federal government, and then relay that report to Congress for any additional funding needs.
Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022 (CIRCIA)
The Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022 (CIRCIA) was signed into law on March 15 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, and focuses on requiring CISA to create rules for critical infrastructure organizations to report cyber incidents and ransomware payments to the government.
CISA will benefit from the additional attack and ransomware payment reporting by better understanding how to “deploy resources and render assistance to victims suffering attacks, analyze incoming reporting across sectors to spot trends, and quickly share that information with network defenders to warn other potential victims,” the agency said.
As it creates the new reporting requirements, CISA has been tasked to consult with different entities such as Department of Justice (DOJ), and the DHS-chaired Cyber Incident Reporting Council.