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SSTI Digest

NIST plans to increase public access to federally funded research results

NIST has released a plan to make its scientific data and publications more readily available and accessible, following a memo from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) instructing all government agencies to do so. NIST has presented its plan in its June 30 Draft for Public Comment, now open for comment. Comments may be submitted until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on August 14 here.

DOL is looking for apprenticeship advisors

The Acting Secretary of Labor (Secretary) requests nominations of qualified candidates to be considered for appointment to the Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship (ACA) for the 2023-2025 membership term. Registered Apprenticeship is highly dependent on its stakeholders' and partners' engagement and involvement for its operational effectiveness. Apart from the ACA, there is no single organization or group with the broad representation of employers, labor unions, and public entities available to consider the complexities and relationship of apprenticeship activities to other training efforts or to provide advice on such matters to the Secretary,

Gen Z workforce inspires shift in broadband

As more households rely on faster forms of internet, broadband internet service has begun to be treated as a necessity in the home and workplace. But its use has varied by generation; according to Pew Research Center, 99% of US adults ages 18-29 report using the internet, while only 75% of senior citizens (65+) can say the same.

Mississippi, Tribal Governments receive SSBCI funds

This week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury approved the state of Mississippi and 15 Tribal Governments for State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) awards. Mississippi is receiving $86 million to launch four programs, including a $15 million fund investment program and an $11 million direct investment program. Treasury approved the funding of six venture capital programs from the awards to Tribal Governments: Chickasaw Nation ($8.0 million), Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope ($2.9 million), Ninilchik Village ($0.7 million), Levelock Village ($0.6 million), Redding Rancheria ($0.6 million), and Osage Nation (VC program amount not specified from the $5.1 million total award).

White House announces $42.5B in broadband allocations

On June 26, 2023, the U.S. government announced allocations from the $42.45 Billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. These funds, allocated to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories, are intended to close the digital divide in the U.S., as funding will be used to deploy or upgrade broadband networks to ensure that everyone in the U.S. has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed Internet service.

Supreme Court rules against Affirmative Action

Today, the Supreme Court ended Affirmative Action on college campuses. The syllabus (headnote) to the decision stated: “Because Harvard's and UNC's admissions programs lack sufficiently focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race, unavoidably employ race in a negative manner, involve racial stereotyping, and lack meaningful end points, those admissions programs cannot be reconciled with the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause.”

CT establishes a Green Job Corps Program

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has signed into law a bill that establishes a green jobs corps program. This program will identify a talent development strategy for communities to address the impacts of climate change and reduce carbon emissions. The bill includes several provisions to accomplish those goals and a plan to market and recruit these jobs to individuals, especially from underrepresented populations. The bill’s goal is to ensure the development of CT's green technology industry and workforce by implementing green job work-based learning, certification, and degree programs that target green industries facing workforce shortages. These programs will be offered at career schools and institutions of higher education.

Funding opportunity for large semiconductor supply chain projects

The U.S. Department of Commerce recently announced a funding opportunity and application process for large semiconductor supply chain projects that include materials and manufacturing equipment facility projects with capital investments equal to or exceeding $300 million. Alongside the funding opportunity for larger supply chain projects, the Department also released a “Vision for Success" outlining strategic objectives for investments in the semiconductor supply chain. The goals in the vision paper include:

New guidance released on CHIPS tax credit for semiconductor manufacturing

The U.S. Department of the Treasury released new proposed regulations this week that, together with draft guidance published in March, define how semiconductor companies can take advantage of the advanced manufacturing investment tax credit created as part of the CHIPS & Science Act. This credit is equal to 25% of the capitalized costs of tangible property used to manufacture semiconductors or semiconductor manufacturing equipment placed in service after 2022, and the credit is refundable, meaning that companies posting a loss can still receive its full value. In evaluating the cost of the legislation, the Congressional Budget Office expected more than $24 billion in claims for the credit. The latest proposed guidance defines elective payment procedures, which are intended to help companies receive the credit’s financial benefits more quickly. Comments on the rule are due by August 14.

Congress moves erratically on budget, tax issues

The House and Senate are working toward FY 2024 appropriations, but not even a negotiated agreement has kept the chambers moving in the same direction. Today, the Senate appropriations committee directed its subcommittees to produce bills that align with the slight reduction in non-defense spending agreed to in the debt ceiling agreement reached earlier this month. However, after House Freedom Caucus members revolted over the agreement, the House appropriations committee decided to direct its subcommittees to produce bills  that cut another $119 billion from the level agreed to as part of the debt ceiling deal.

EDA releases information on upcoming $200M Recompete Pilot Program

The Distressed Area Recompete Pilot Program (Recompete Pilot Program)—authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act— will invest $200 million toward interventions that spur economic activity in geographically diverse and persistently distressed communities nationwide. The program will support economic revitalization in distressed communities across the country. Specifically, this program targets areas where prime-age (25-54 years) employment significantly trails the national average and is intended to close the gap through flexible, bottom-up strategy development and implementation investments. Applicants should demonstrate how benefits from the program are shared equitably across all affected populations.

Changes to national broadband map means more money to some states, less to others

On May 30, 2023, FCC released a broadband map that had been updated to reflect states' challenges to the availability data for more than 4 million locations throughout the U.S. Seventy-five percent of those challenges had been resolved in the new map. The new map reflected a net increase of more than one million new serviceable locations that had not appeared on the previous map.