Search Penny Hill Press

Loading...

Friday, May 28, 2010

America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of2010 and the America COMPETES Act: Selected Policy Issues

Heather B. Gonzalez, Coordinator
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

John F. Sargent Jr.
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

Patricia Moloney Figliola
Specialist in Internet and Telecommunications Policy

Enacted in 2007, the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act (P.L. 110-69) is being considered for reauthorization this year. The law responded to concerns about long-term U.S. economic competitiveness and innovative capacity by authorizing increased investments in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and federal research in the physical sciences and engineering. Statutory authorities for certain America COMPETES Act provisions expire in 2010. 

Two America COMPETES Act reauthorization bills have been introduced in the House: H.R. 5116 and H.R. 5325. Both measures are titled the "America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010." H.R. 5116 was heard on the House floor on May 12 and 13, 2010, but was subsequently recommitted to committee and ultimately pulled from consideration. H.R. 5325, introduced on May 18, 2010, was heard on the House floor on May 19, 2010, under suspension of the rules and failed to garner the required two-thirds vote. H.R. 5325 may come back to the House floor under a rule. Similar legislation has not been introduced in the Senate. 

H.R. 5325 includes the provisions of H.R. 5116 as amended in committee and on the floor, and adopts some of the provisions of the motion to recommit. Although these measures are for the most part identical, one difference between them is the authorization period for appropriations. H.R. 5116 would have authorized appropriations for five years while H.R. 5325 would authorize appropriations for three years. 

As with its predecessor, H.R. 5116, H.R. 5325 builds upon, and differs from, the original America COMPETES Act. Among its many provisions, the bill augments and amends P.L. 110-69's provisions in STEM education and federal research in the physical sciences and engineering. H.R. 5325 seeks to increase the coordination of federal STEM education programs and to improve STEM teaching and learning in higher education. It would also increase authorizations for the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology laboratories, and Department of Energy Office of Science for three years; and would make program changes designed to provide for high-risk, high-reward research, increased collaboration, and commercialization. 

The reauthorization measure would also expand provisions of P.L. 110-69 that sought to increase the participation of underrepresented populations in STEM education and employment, and would reauthorize the National Nanotechnology Initiative and Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program, two federal multi-agency R&D initiatives. 

In both the debates about H.R. 5116 and H.R. 5325 and the evaluation of P.L. 110-69, critics have raised concerns about appropriations. Some critics argue these measures are fiscally unsustainable in the current economic and budgetary environment. Supporters contend existing weaknesses in STEM education and federal research in the physical sciences and engineering threaten the fundamental underpinnings of the economy and therefore justify national investment even in an era of fiscal constraint.
 


Date of Report: May 24, 2010
Number of Pages: 18
Order Number: R41231
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The National Nanotechnology Initiative: Overview, Reauthorization, and Appropriations Issues

John F. Sargent Jr.
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

Nanotechnology—a term encompassing the science, engineering, and applications of submicron materials—involves the harnessing of unique physical, chemical, and biological properties of nanoscale substances in fundamentally new and useful ways. The economic and societal promise of nanotechnology has led to substantial and sustained investments by governments and companies around the world. In 2000, the United States launched the world's first national nanotechnology program. From FY2001 through FY2010, the federal government invested approximately $12.4 billion in nanoscale science, engineering, and technology through the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). U.S. companies and state governments have invested billions more. President Obama has requested an additional $1.8 billion in NNI funding for FY2011. As a result of this focus and these investments, the United States has, in the view of many experts, emerged as a global leader in nanotechnology. However, the competition for global leadership in nanotechnology is intensifying as countries and companies around the world increase their investments. 

Nanotechnology's complexity and intricacies, early stage of development (with commercial payoff possibly years away for many potential applications), and broad scope of potential applications engender a wide range of public policy issues. Maintaining U.S. technological and commercial leadership in nanotechnology poses a variety of technical and policy challenges, including development of technologies that will enable commercial scale manufacturing of nanotechnology materials and products; environmental, health, and safety (EHS) concerns; and maintenance of public confidence in its safety. 

Congress established programs, assigned responsibilities, and initiated research and development (R&D) related to these issues in the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-153). While many provisions of this act have no sunset provision, FY2008 was the last year of agency authorizations included in the act. Legislation to amend and reauthorize the act was introduced in the House (H.R. 5940, 110th Congress) and the Senate (S. 3274, 110th Congress) in the 110th Congress. Both bills were titled the National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act of 2008. The House passed H.R. 5940 by a vote of 407-6; the Senate did not act on S. 3274. In January 2009, H.R. 554, the National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act of 2009, was introduced in the 111th Congress. The act contains essentially the same provisions as H.R. 5940 (110th Congress). In February 2009, the House passed the bill by voice vote under a suspension of the rules. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; no further action has been taken. On May 7, 2010, the House Committee on Science and Technology reported the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (H.R. 5116) which includes, as Title I, Subtitle A, the National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act of 2010. Provisions of this subtitle are nearly identical to the provisions of H.R. 554. 

Proponents of the NNI assert that nanotechnology is one of the most important emerging and enabling technologies and that U.S. competitiveness, technological leadership, national security, and societal interests require an aggressive approach to the development and commercialization of nanotechnology. Critics of the NNI voice concerns that reflect disparate underlying beliefs. Some critics assert that the government is not doing enough to move technology from the laboratory into the marketplace. Others argue that the magnitude of the public investment may skew what should be market-based decisions in research, development, and commercialization. Still other critics say that the inherent risks of nanotechnology are not being addressed in a timely or effective manner.


Date of Report: May 13, 2010
Number of Pages: 53
Order Number: RL34401
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of2010 (H.R. 5116) and the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69): Selected Policy Issues

Heather B. Gonzalez, Coordinator
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

John F. Sargent Jr.
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

Patricia Moloney Figliola
Specialist in Internet and Telecommunications Policy

On August 9, 2007, President George W. Bush signed the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act (P.L. 110-69) into law. The law responded to concerns about long-term U.S. economic competitiveness and innovative capacity by authorizing increased investments in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and federal research in the physical sciences and engineering. Statutory authorities for certain America COMPETES Act provisions expire in 2010 and work on reauthorization has begun in both chambers of Congress. On May 12 and 13, 2010, the House debated the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (H.R. 5116), voted on a series of amendments, and voted to recommit the bill to committee. Further House action on the measure was postponed immediately after the motion to recommit passed and the bill was eventually pulled from consideration. Similar legislation has not been introduced in the Senate yet. 

H.R. 5116 builds upon, and differs from, P.L. 110-69. Among H.R. 5116's many provisions and titles, it augments and amends P.L. 110-69's provisions in STEM education and federal research in the physical sciences and engineering. H.R. 5116 includes new provisions that seek to increase coordination among federal STEM education programs and that seek to improve STEM teaching and learning in higher education. It would also increase authorizations for the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology laboratories, and Department of Energy Office of Science for a period of five years; and would make program changes that seek to provide for high-risk, high-reward research, and increased collaboration and commercialization. 

H.R. 5116 would also expand provisions of P.L. 110-69 that sought to increase the participation of underrepresented populations in STEM education and employment, and would reauthorize the National Nanotechnology Initiative and Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program, two federal multi-agency R&D initiatives. 

In both the debate about H.R. 5116 and evaluation of P.L. 110-69 critics have raised concerns about appropriations. They argue the bill is fiscally unsustainable in the current economic and budgetary environment. Supporters contend existing weaknesses in STEM education and federal research in the physical sciences and engineering threaten the fundamental underpinnings of the economy and therefore justify national investment even in an era of fiscal constraint. 

This report provides background information on P.L. 110-69 and H.R. 5116 and analyzes four policy issues addressed by both measures: (1) STEM Education, (2) Federal Research Programs and Activities, (3) Broadening Participation, and (4) Funding. It also discusses selected policy concerns identified in the debate about U.S. competitiveness and describes how H.R. 5116 responds to those concerns. It contains a description of federal multi-agency research and development initiatives that are included in H.R. 5116 but not found in P.L. 110-69. This report does not attempt to address all provisions of H.R. 5116 or to project likely outcomes from its provisions. 



Date of Report: May 13, 2010
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: R41231
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Access to Broadband Networks: The Net Neutrality Debate

Angele A. Gilroy
Specialist in Telecommunications Policy

As congressional policymakers continue to debate telecommunications reform, a major point of contention is the question of whether action is needed to ensure unfettered access to the Internet. The move to place restrictions on the owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet, to ensure equal access and non-discriminatory treatment, is referred to as "net neutrality." There is no single accepted definition of "net neutrality." However, most agree that any such definition should include the general principles that owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network, and they should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network. 

A major focus in the debate over telecommunications reform is concern over whether it is necessary for policymakers to take steps to ensure access to the Internet for content, services, and applications providers, as well as consumers, and if so, what these steps should be. Some policymakers contend that more specific regulatory guidelines may be necessary to protect the marketplace from potential abuses which could threaten the net neutrality concept. Others contend that existing laws and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) policies are sufficient to deal with potential anti-competitive behavior and that additional regulations would have negative effects on the expansion and future development of the Internet. An April 2010 court ruling in FCC v. Comcast that vacated the FCC's application of its Internet principles in an order against Comcast has focused attention on the issue. Although most concede that networks have and will always need some management, the use of prioritization tools, such as deep packet inspection, as well as the initiation of metered/consumption-based billing practices have further fueled the debate. 

A consensus on this issue has not yet formed, but one stand-alone measure (H.R. 3458) that comprehensively addresses the net neutrality debate has been introduced in the 111th Congress to date. Two bills (S. 1836, H.R. 3924) to prohibit, with some exceptions, the FCC from proposing, promulgating, or issuing any further regulations regarding the Internet or IP-enabled services, were introduced in response to the adoption, by the FCC, of a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) seeking comment on proposed rules to, among other things, codify and expand on rules to "preserve the open Internet." The net neutrality issue has also been narrowly addressed within the context of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5). Provisions require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), in consultation with the FCC, to establish "nondiscrimination and network interconnection obligations" as a requirement for grant participants in the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). These obligations were released, July 1, 2009, in conjunction with the issuance of a notice of funds availability soliciting applications. The ARRA also required the FCC to submit a report, containing a national broadband plan, to both the House and Senate Commerce Committees; it was released on March 16, 2010. Furthermore, legislation (H.R. 2902) authorizing the Federal Trade Commission, in consultation with the FCC, to review volume usage service plans offered by broadband providers was introduced June 16, 2009.


Date of Report: May 6, 2010
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: R40616
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

United States Fire Administration: An Overview

Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA)—which includes the National Fire Academy (NFA)—is currently an entity within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The objective of the USFA is to significantly reduce the nation's loss of life from fire, while also achieving a reduction in property loss and non-fatal injury due to fire. The United States Fire Administration Reauthorization Act of 2008 (H.R. 4847/S. 2606) was signed into law on October 8, 2008 (P.L. 110-376). 

P.L. 111-83, the FY2010 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, provided $45.588 million for USFA, the same level as the Administration's proposal. The Administration's FY2011 budget proposal requested $45.930 million for USFA, an increase of 0.7% from the FY2010 level. 

In the 111th Congress, debate over the USFA budget focuses on whether the USFA is receiving sufficient funding to accomplish its mission, given that appropriations for USFA have consistently been well below the agency's authorized level. An ongoing issue is the viability and status of the USFA and National Fire Academy within the Department of Homeland Security.


Date of Report: May 3, 2010
Number of Pages: 9
Order Number: RS20071
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

The Jurisprudence of Justice John Paul Stevens: Selected Opinions on Intellectual Property Law

Brian T. Yeh
Legislative Attorney

This report briefly surveys decisions of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens in intellectual property cases. An examination of Justice Stevens' written opinions relating to intellectual property law reveals a strong desire to ensure that the rights of intellectual property creators are balanced with the rights of the public to access creative and innovative works. No decision embodies this interest more than Justice Stevens' majority opinion in Sony Corporation of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., a landmark copyright case issued in 1984 that paved the way for the development and sale of popular consumer electronics, such as the video recorder (VCR, DVR, TiVo), portable music and video players (iPod), personal computers, and other devices that permit the recording and playback of copyrighted content. 

In addition, Justice Stevens issued a lengthy dissent in the 2003 case Eldred v. Ashcroft, in which he asserted that Congress lacked the power to pass a law that extended the term of existing copyrights by 20 years. Such a retroactive extension delays the entrance of copyrighted works into the public domain and, in Justice Stevens' opinion, is a violation of the Constitution's Copyright Clause that authorizes Congress to grant exclusive intellectual property rights to authors and artists for "limited Times." 

In the area of patent law, Justice Stevens authored the majority opinion in the 1978 case Parker v. Flook that sought to severely restrict the availability of patent protection on inventions relating to computer software programs. Yet just three years later, the Supreme Court's decision in Diamond v. Diehr effectively opened the door to the allowance of patents on some computer programs. Justice Stevens wrote a strongly worded dissent in Diehr in which he suggested that Congress would be better suited than the Court to address the policy considerations of allowing patent protection for computer programs. His written opinions in both of these cases reveal an interest in judicial restraint, not wanting to extend patent rights into areas that Congress had not contemplated. 

Justice Stevens dissented from the 1999 opinion, Florida Prepaid v. College Savings Bank, in which a majority of the Court invalidated Congress's attempt to abrogate state sovereign immunity and authorize patent holders to file suits for monetary damages against states and state instrumentalities that infringe their patent rights. Justice Stevens believed that the 1992 Patent and Plant Variety Protection Remedy Clarification Act was a proper exercise of Congress's authority under §5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to prevent state deprivations of property without due process of law, and he expressed his disagreement with the majority opinion's expansive protection of states' rights.


Date of Report: May 14, 2010
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: R41236
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Broadband Infrastructure Programs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, P.L. 111-5) provided $7.2 billion primarily for broadband grant programs to be administered by two separate agencies: the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Of the $7.2 billion total, the ARRA provided $4.7 billion to establish a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) at NTIA, and $2.5 billion as funding for broadband grant, loan, and loan/grant combination programs at RUS. Broadband grants and loans funded by the ARRA are competitive and applicants must apply directly to NTIA and RUS. The NTIA appropriation also included $350 million for a national broadband inventory map, funding for the Broadband Data Improvement Act (P.L. 110-385), and funding to be transferred to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to develop a national broadband plan. 

The unprecedented scale and scope of the ARRA broadband programs, coupled with the short time frame for awarding grants, presents daunting challenges with respect to program implementation as well as Congressional oversight. Congress is closely monitoring how equitably and effectively broadband grants are allocated among states and the various stakeholders, and to what extent the programs fulfill the goals of short term job creation and the longer term economic benefits anticipated from improved broadband availability, access, and adoption. A continuing issue is how to strike a balance between providing federal assistance for unserved and underserved areas where the private sector may not be providing acceptable levels of broadband service, while at the same time minimizing any deleterious effects that government intervention in the marketplace may have on competition and private sector investment. 

There are two rounds of broadband funding. The first funding round was announced with the release of a Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) on July 1, 2009. The NOFA contained eligibility requirements, application rules and procedures, and evaluation criteria for BTOP at NTIA and for the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) at RUS. In the first round, NTIA and RUS announced awards for 150 projects, totaling $2.275 billion in federal funding. This includes 82 BTOP projects (totaling $1.206 billion) and 68 BIP projects (totaling $1.069 billion). 

The second round NOFAs for BTOP and BIP were released on January 15, 2010. With respect to infrastructure, BTOP will fund middle mile projects, while BIP will focus primarily on last mile projects. Significant changes made from the first round NOFA, include: simplifying application procedures, reorienting BTOP infrastructure grants towards comprehensive community middle mile projects, eliminating the BIP remote last mile project category, and adding a separate BIP Satellite Project category. 
.


Date of Report: May 6, 2010
Number of Pages: 26
Order Number: R40436
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

The Google Library Project: Is Digitization for Purposes of Online Indexing Fair Use Under Copyright Law?

Kate M. Manuel
Legislative Attorney

In December 2004, Google announced its Library Project, which was to entail digitizing, indexing, and displaying "snippets" of print books in the collections of five major libraries, among other things. The Library Project was not limited to books in the public domain (e.g., books whose terms of copyright protection had expired), and Google did not seek the permission of copyright holders, in part, because it asserted that its proposed uses were fair uses. Many authors, publishers, and other rights holders disagreed. 

The arguments made by and on behalf of Google and the rights holders regarding the Google Library Project highlight several questions of first impression about infringing reproduction and fair use under copyright law. First, does an entity conducting a digitization and indexing project that is not authorized by the rights holders avoid committing copyright infringement by offering rights holders the opportunity to "opt out," or request removal or exclusion of their content? Is requiring rights holders to take steps to stop allegedly infringing digitization and indexing like requiring rights holders to use meta-tags to keep search engines from indexing online content? Or do rights holders employ sufficient measures to keep their books from being digitized and indexed online by publishing in print? Second, can unauthorized digitization, indexing, and display of "snippets" of print works constitute a fair use? Assuming unauthorized indexing and display of "snippets" are fair uses, can digitization claim to be a fair use on the grounds that apparently prima facie infringing activities that facilitate legitimate uses are fair uses? 

Several lawsuits that could help answer these questions, at least for purposes of U.S. law, have been filed. The Authors Guild and a group of five publishers filed separate suits in September and October 2005 that have been consolidated into a single class action suit in which the parties propose to settle. A revised version of the settlement agreement was proposed on November 13, 2009, and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held a final fairness hearing on it on February 18, 2010. Because the suit is a class action, the court must approve any settlement agreement, and opponents of the agreement have raised concerns in amicus briefs and other court filings about Google's potential monopolization of book searching, the treatment of orphan works, protection of searchers' privacy, the rights of foreign authors, and related issues. In part because persons holding rights in photographs, illustrations, and other pictorial works incorporated within the scanned books were excluded from the proposed settlement agreement, the court rejected a motion by pictorial rights holders to intervene in the Authors Guild suit on November 4, 2009. However, on April 7, 2010, the American Society of Media Photographers filed its own class action suit against Google, alleging that the Library Project infringes their members' copyrights by reproducing, distributing, and displaying their works without authorization.


Date of Report: May 5, 2010
Number of Pages: 19
Order Number: R40194
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Universal Service Fund: Background and Options for Reform

Angele A. Gilroy
Specialist in Telecommunications Policy

The concept that all Americans should be able to afford access to the telecommunications network, commonly called the "universal service concept" can trace its origins back to the 1934 Communications Act. Since then, the preservation and advancement of universal service has been a basic tenet of federal communications policy, and Congress has historically played an active role in helping to preserve and advance universal service goals. The passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-104) not only codified the universal service concept, but also led to the establishment, in 1997, of a federal Universal Service Fund (USF or Fund) to meet the universal service objectives and principles contained in the 1996 Act. According to Fund administrators, from 1998 through end of year 2009, over $65.7 billion was distributed, or committed, by the USF, with all 50 states, the District of Columbia and all territories receiving some benefit. 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is required to ensure that there be "specific, predictable and sufficient ... mechanisms to preserve and advance universal service." However, changes in telecommunications technology and the marketplace, while often leading to positive benefits for consumers and providers, have had a negative impact on the health and viability of the USF, as presently designed. These changes have led to a growing imbalance between the entities and revenue stream contributing to the fund and the growth in the entities and programs eligible to receive funding. The desire to expand access to broadband and address what some perceive as a "digital divide" has also placed focus on what role, if any, the USF should take to address this issue. The FCC's national broadband plan, Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan, calls for a major restructuring of the USF to enable it to take a major role in achieving the goal of nationwide broadband access and adoption. 

There is a growing consensus among policy makers, including some in Congress, that significant action is needed not only to ensure the viability and stability of the USF, but also to address the numerous issues surrounding its appropriate role in a changing marketplace. How this concept should be defined, how these policies should be funded, who should receive the funding, and how to ensure proper management and oversight of the Fund are among the issues framing the debate. 

The current policy debate has focused on five concerns: the scope of the program; who should contribute and what methodology should be used to fund the program; eligibility criteria for benefits; concerns over possible program fraud, waste, and abuse; and the impact of the Antideficiency Act (ADA) on the USF. 

The House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet held a hearing, March 2009, on reforming the USF High Cost Fund as well as a November 17, 2009, hearing on draft legislation addressing comprehensive USF reform. The House Communications Subcommittee and the Senate Commerce Committee are among the Committees that have held hearings on the FCC's national broadband plan. Legislation (H.R. 3646, H.R. 3101, H.R. 4619, S. 2879) to expand the role of the USF has been introduced. The FY2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which was enacted into law (P.L. 111-117) contained a provision to extend the USF ADA exemption until December 31, 2010. S. 348, introduced January 29, 2009, by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Rockefeller, and H.R. 2135, introduced April 28, 2009, by Representative Rehberg, provide for a permanent ADA exemption for the USF.


Date of Report: May 6, 2010
Number of Pages:32
Order Number:RL33979
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of2010 (H.R. 5116) and the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69): Selected Policy Issues

Heather B. Gonzalez, Coordinator
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

John F. Sargent Jr.
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

Patricia Moloney Figliola
Specialist in Internet and Telecommunications Policy

On August 9, 2007, President George W. Bush signed the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act (P.L. 110-69) into law. The law responded to concerns about long-term U.S. economic competitiveness and innovative capacity by authorizing increased investments in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and federal research in the physical sciences and engineering. Statutory authorities for certain America COMPETES Act provisions expire in 2010 and work on reauthorization has begun in both chambers of Congress. On April 28, 2010, the House Committee on Science and Technology ordered reported as amended H.R. 5116, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010. Similar legislation has not been introduced in the Senate yet. 

H.R. 5116 builds upon, and differs from, P.L. 110-69. Among H.R. 5116's many provisions and titles, it augments and amends P.L. 110-69's provisions in STEM education and federal research in the physical sciences and engineering. H.R. 5116 includes new provisions that seek to increase coordination among federal STEM education programs and that seek to improve STEM teaching and learning in higher education. It would also increase authorizations for the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology laboratories, and Department of Energy Office of Science for a period of five years; and would make program changes that seek to provide for high-risk, high-reward research, and increased collaboration and commercialization. 

H.R. 5116 would also expand provisions of P.L. 110-69 that sought to increase the participation of underrepresented populations in STEM education and employment, and would reauthorize the National Nanotechnology Initiative and Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program, two federal multi-agency R&D initiatives. 

In both the debate about H.R. 5116 and evaluation of P.L. 110-69 critics have raised concerns about appropriations. They argue the bill is fiscally unsustainable in the current economic and budgetary environment. Supporters contend existing weaknesses in STEM education and federal research in the physical sciences and engineering threaten the fundamental underpinnings of the economy and therefore justify national investment even in an era of fiscal constraint. 

This report provides background information on P.L. 110-69 and H.R. 5116 and analyzes four policy issues addressed by both measures: (1) STEM Education, (2) Federal Research Programs and Activities, (3) Broadening Participation, and (4) Funding. It also discusses selected policy concerns identified in the debate about U.S. competitiveness and describes how H.R. 5116 responds to those concerns. It contains a description of federal multi-agency research and development initiatives that are included in H.R. 5116 but not found in P.L. 110-69. This report does not attempt to address all provisions of H.R. 5116 or to project likely outcomes from its provisions.


Date of Report: May 11, 2010
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: R41231
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Distribution of Broadband Stimulus Grants and Loans: Applications and Awards

Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, P.L. 111-5) provided $7.2 billion primarily for broadband grant and loan programs to be administered by two separate agencies: the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

There are two rounds of ARRA broadband funding. The first round award announcements have concluded. NTIA and RUS announced first round awards for 150 projects, totaling $2.275 billion in federal funding. Second round awards are expected to be announced starting in June 2010. The ARRA mandates that all funding must be awarded by September 30, 2010. 

This report focuses on the distribution of round one ARRA broadband funding with respect to project category, program, technology deployed, state-by-state distribution, and other factors. Based on first round applications and awards data, the following observations can be made: 

• To date, the amount of funding awarded in the first round is about 57% of the available funding levels published in the first round Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA). 

• Of all broadband infrastructure projects awarded, middle mile projects have received more funding than last mile projects (53% vs. 47% of total funding for infrastructure). 

• Of all broadband infrastructure funding, most (70%) has been awarded to projects serving predominantly rural areas. However, a breakdown of the project categories awards data shows that while all last mile projects have been rural, the majority of middle mile funding has been awarded to projects serving nonrural areas. 

• Nonremote last mile rural projects were funded more heavily than remote area last mile rural projects. 

• Public notice responses were filed by existing service providers for 71% of all funded first round infrastructure projects. Public notice responses were filed for 89% of all middle mile projects and 70% of last mile nonremote projects. By contrast, one out of the thirteen (8%) last mile remote area applications received a public notice response from an existing service provider. 

Congress will likely continue to monitor how the stimulus broadband grants and loans are being distributed. To the extent that Congress may consider whether certain broadband grant and loan programs should be expanded, the funding patterns and trends that emerge during rounds one and two could provide insights into whether such programs should be expanded, and if so, how these or similar programs might be fashioned within the context of a national broadband policy.


Date of Report: April 28, 2010
Number of Pages: 23
Order Number: R41164
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding

Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program, also known as fire grants or the FIRE Act grant program, was established by Title XVII of the FY2001 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 106-398). Currently administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the program provides federal grants directly to local fire departments and unaffiliated Emergency Medical Services (EMS) organizations to help address a variety of equipment, training, and other firefighter-related and EMS needs. A related program is the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Firefighters (SAFER) program, which provides grants for hiring, recruiting, and retaining firefighters. 

The fire grant program is now in its tenth year. The Fire Act statute was reauthorized in 2004 (Title XXXVI of P.L. 108-375) and provides overall guidelines on how fire grant money should be distributed. There is no set geographical formula for the distribution of fire grants—fire departments throughout the nation apply, and award decisions are made by a peer panel based on the merits of the application and the needs of the community. However, the law does require that fire grants be distributed to a diverse mix of fire departments, with respect to type of department (paid, volunteer, or combination), geographic location, and type of community served (e.g. urban, suburban, or rural). 

On February 17, 2009, the President signed P.L. 111-5, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The ARRA included an additional $210 million in firefighter assistance grants for modifying, upgrading, or constructing state and local non-federal fire stations, provided that 5% be set aside for program administration and provided that no grant shall exceed $15 million. 

P.L. 111-83, the FY2010 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, provided $810 million for firefighter assistance, including $390 million for AFG and $420 million for SAFER. The Administration's FY2011 budget proposed $305 million for AFG (a 22% decrease from the FY2010 level) and $305 million for SAFER (a 27% decrease). The total amount requested for firefighter assistance (AFG and SAFER) was $610 million, a 25% decrease from FY2010. 

Meanwhile, on November 18, 2009, the House passed H.R. 3791, the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2009, which would reauthorize AFG and SAFER through FY2014 and modify the distribution of fire grant funds. On April 27, 2010, S. 3267, the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2010, was introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. On April 28, the Committee ordered S. 3267 to be reported with an amendment favorably. Debate over the AFG reauthorization has reflected a competition for funding between career/urban/suburban departments and volunteer/rural departments. The urgency of this debate could be heightened by the proposed reduction of overall AFG funding in FY2011, and the economic downturn in many local communities increasingly hard pressed to allocate funding for their local fire departments.


Date of Report: April 29, 2010
Number of Pages: 24
Order Number: RL32341
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

The FCC’s Authority to Regulate Net Neutrality after Comcast v. FCC

Kathleen Ann Ruane
Legislative Attorney

In 2007, through various experiments by the media, most notably the Associated Press, it became clear that Comcast was intermittently blocking the use of an application called BitTorrent™ and, possibly, other peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing programs on its network. Comcast eventually admitted to the practice and agreed to cease blocking the use of the P2P applications on its network. However, Comcast maintains that its actions were reasonable network management and not in violation of the Federal Communications Commission's ("FCC" or "Commission") policy. 

In response to a petition from Free Press for a declaratory ruling that Comcast's blocking of P2P applications was not "reasonable network management," the FCC conducted an investigation into Comcast's network management practices. The FCC determined that Comcast had violated the agency's Internet Policy Statement when it blocked certain applications on its network and that the practice at issue in this case was not "reasonable network management." The FCC declined to fine Comcast, because its Internet Policy Statement had never previously been the basis for enforcement forfeitures. Comcast appealed this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, as did other public interest groups. 

The D.C. Circuit ruled on April 6, 2010, that the FCC could not base ancillary authority to regulate cable Internet services solely upon broad policy goals contained elsewhere in the Communications Act. Whatever the merits of other jurisdictional arguments the FCC may advance, the court found that the FCC did not have jurisdiction to enforce its network management principles on the basis it had advanced in that case. The court did not address the other questions posed by the case, including whether the FCC could proceed via adjudication. 

On October 22, 2009, the FCC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would codify the four network management principles into regulations and would add two additional principles. The fifth principle would be one of non-discrimination and the sixth principle would be one of transparency. The period for public comment was open until January 14, 2010, with reply comments due in March of 2010. In light of the decision issued by the D.C. Circuit, the FCC may craft its jurisdictional argument for the adoption of the rules differently. It is possible that the agency could advance an argument that would satisfy the standard for its use of ancillary authority. Any new rules announced pursuant to this rulemaking will likely result in a court challenge. 

Congress could act to grant the FCC the authority necessary to adopt network management rules. If a law were enacted, the FCC would not have to rely on its ancillary jurisdiction to enforce network management rules. 
.


Date of Report: April 23, 2010
Number of Pages: 12
Order Number: R40234
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Broadband Loan and Grant Programs in theUSDA’s Rural Utilities Service

Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

Given the large potential impact broadband access may have on the economic development of rural America, concern has been raised over a "digital divide" between rural and urban or suburban areas with respect to broadband deployment. While there are many examples of rural communities with state of the art telecommunications facilities, recent surveys and studies have indicated that, in general, rural areas tend to lag behind urban and suburban areas in broadband deployment. 

Citing the lagging deployment of broadband in many rural areas, Congress and the Administration acted in 2001 and 2002 to initiate pilot broadband loan and grant programs within the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Subsequently, Section 6103 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-171) amended the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 to authorize a loan and loan guarantee program to provide funds for the costs of the construction, improvement, and acquisition of facilities and equipment for broadband service in eligible rural communities. The RUS/USDA houses two assistance programs exclusively dedicated to financing broadband deployment: the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program and the Community Connect Grant Program. 

The 110th Congress considered reauthorization and modification of the loan and loan guarantee program as part of the farm bill. The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 became law on June 18, 2008 (P.L. 110-246). Title VI (Rural Development) contains authorizing language for the broadband loan program. 

Meanwhile, on May 11, 2007, RUS released a Proposed Rule seeking to revise the broadband loan program rules and regulations. Some key issues pertinent to a consideration of the RUS broadband programs include restrictions on applicant eligibility, how "rural" is defined with respect to eligible rural communities, how to address assistance to areas with preexisting broadband service, technological neutrality, funding levels and mechanisms, and the appropriateness of federal assistance. The final rule will reflect language in the enacted farm bill statute (P.L. 110-246). Ultimately, modification of rules, regulations, or criteria associated with the RUS broadband program will likely result in "winners and losers" in terms of which companies, communities, regions of the country, and technologies are eligible or more likely to receive broadband loans and grants. 

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed P.L. 111-5, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Broadband provisions of the ARRA provide a total of $7.2 billion, primarily for broadband grants. The total consists of $2.5 billion for RUS broadband loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations, and $4.7 billion to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the Department of Commerce (DOC) for a newly established Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.


Date of Report: April 20, 2010
Number of Pages: 23
Order Number: RL33816
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response: The SAFER Grant Program

Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

In response to concerns over the adequacy of firefighter staffing, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Act—popularly called the "SAFER Act"—was enacted by the 108th Congress as Section 1057 of the FY2004 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 108-136). The SAFER Act authorizes grants to career, volunteer, and combination local fire departments for the purpose of increasing the number of firefighters to help communities meet industry-minimum standards and attain 24-hour staffing to provide adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards. Also authorized are grants to volunteer fire departments for activities related to the recruitment and retention of volunteers. The SAFER grant program is authorized through FY2010. 

With the economic turndown adversely affecting budgets of local governments, concerns have arisen that modifications to the SAFER statute may be necessary to enable fire departments to more effectively participate in the program. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5) included a provision (section 603) that waives the matching requirements for SAFER grants awarded in FY2009 and FY2010. The FY2009 Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L. 111-32) included a provision authorizing the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive further limitations and restrictions in the SAFER statute for FY2009 and FY2010. 

P.L. 111-83, the FY2010 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, provided $420 million for SAFER, double the amount appropriated in FY2009. The Administration's FY2011 budget proposed $305 million for SAFER, a 27% decrease from the FY2010 level. The FY2011 budget proposal for SAFER could receive heightened interest, given high rates of unemployment and the local budgetary cutbacks that many fire departments are now facing. Meanwhile, on December 16, 2009, the House considered legislation intended to create jobs and passed the Senate amendment to H.R. 2847, would provide $500 million in additional FY2010 funding for SAFER. 

Concerns over local fire departments' budgetary problems have also framed debate over the SAFER reauthorization, which is included in H.R. 3791, the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2009, passed by the House on November 18, 2009. On April 27, 2010, S. 3267, the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2010, was introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. On April 28, the Committee ordered S. 3267 to be reported with an amendment favorably. Congress is considering whether some SAFER rules and restrictions governing the hiring grants should be permanently eliminated or altered in order to make it economically feasible for more fire departments to participate in the program.


Date of Report: April 30, 2010
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: RL33375
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Broadband Internet Access and the Digital Divide: Federal Assistance Programs

Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy
Angele A. Gilroy
Specialist in Telecommunications Policy

The "digital divide" is a term that has been used to characterize a gap between "information haves and have-nots," or in other words, between those Americans who use or have access to telecommunications technologies and those who do not. One important subset of the digital divide debate concerns high-speed Internet access and advanced telecommunications services, also known as broadband. Broadband is provided by a series of technologies (e.g., cable, telephone wire, fiber, satellite, wireless) that give users the ability to send and receive data at volumes and speeds far greater than traditional "dial-up" Internet access over telephone lines. 

Broadband technologies are currently being deployed primarily by the private sector throughout the United States. While the numbers of new broadband subscribers continue to grow, studies and data suggest that the rate of broadband deployment in urban/suburban and high income areas are outpacing deployment in rural and low-income areas. Some policymakers, believing that disparities in broadband access across American society could have adverse economic and social consequences on those left behind, assert that the federal government should play a more active role to avoid a "digital divide" in broadband access. One approach is for the federal government to provide financial assistance to support broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas. 

Economic stimulus legislation enacted by the 111th Congress included provisions that provided federal financial assistance for broadband deployment. On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed P.L. 111-5, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The ARRA provided a total of $7.2 billion for broadband, consisting of $4.7 billion to NTIA/DOC for a newly established Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and $2.5 billion to RUS/USDA broadband programs. 

The ARRA also directed the FCC to develop a National Broadband Plan, which was released on March 16, 2010. The National Broadband Plan will likely spur considerable debate over what actions, if any, the federal government should take in order to close the digital divide in broadband access. As Congress considers various options for encouraging broadband deployment and adoption, a key issue is how to strike a balance between providing federal assistance for unserved and underserved areas where the private sector may not be providing acceptable levels of broadband service, while at the same time minimizing any deleterious effects that government intervention in the marketplace may have on competition and private sector investment.


Date of Report: April 19, 2010
Number of Pages: 28
Order Number: RL30719
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

The Future of NASA: Space Policy Issues Facing Congress

Daniel Morgan
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

For the past several years, the priorities of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have been governed by the Vision for Space Exploration. The Vision was announced by President Bush in January 2004 and endorsed by Congress in the 2005 and 2008 NASA authorization acts (P.L. 109-155 and P.L. 110-422). It directed NASA to focus its efforts on returning humans to the Moon by 2020 and some day sending them to Mars and "worlds beyond." The resulting efforts are now approaching major milestones, such as the end of the space shuttle program, design review decisions for the new spacecraft intended to replace the shuttle, and decisions about whether to extend the operation of the International Space Station. At the same time, concerns have grown about whether NASA can accomplish the planned program of human exploration of space without significant growth in its budget. 

A high-level independent review of the future of human space flight, chaired by Norman R. Augustine, issued its final report in October 2009. It presented several options as alternatives to the Vision and concluded that for human exploration to continue "in any meaningful way," NASA would require an additional $3 billion per year above current plans. 

In its FY2011 budget request, the Obama Administration proposed cancelling the Constellation spacecraft development program and eliminating the goal of returning humans to the Moon. NASA would instead rely on commercial providers to transport astronauts to Earth orbit, and its ultimate goal beyond Earth orbit would be human exploration of Mars, with missions to other destinations, such as visiting an asteroid in 2025, as intermediate goals. Operation of the International Space Station would be extended to at least 2020, and long-term technology development would receive increased emphasis. 

Committees in the House and Senate have held hearings to consider both the Augustine report and the Administration proposals. As Congress considers these broad space policy challenges, it faces choices about 

• whether NASA's human exploration program is affordable and sufficiently safe, and if so, what destination or destinations it should explore; 

• whether the space shuttle program should continue past its currently planned termination at the end of 2010 (or in early 2011); if so, how to ensure the continued safety of shuttle crews after 2010; if not, how the transition of the shuttle workforce and facilities should be managed; 

• whether U.S. use of the International Space Station should continue past its currently planned termination at the end of 2015; 

• whether the currently planned Orion crew capsule and Ares rockets, being developed as successors to the space shuttle, are the best choices for delivering astronauts and cargo into space, or whether other proposed rockets or commercial services should take their place; and 

• how NASA's multiple objectives in human spaceflight, science, aeronautics, and education should be prioritized.


Date of Report: April 19, 2010
Number of Pages: 42
Order Number: R41016
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response: The SAFER Grant Program

Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

In response to concerns over the adequacy of firefighter staffing, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Act—popularly called the "SAFER Act"—was enacted by the 108th Congress as Section 1057 of the FY2004 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 108-136). The SAFER Act authorizes grants to career, volunteer, and combination local fire departments for the purpose of increasing the number of firefighters to help communities meet industry-minimum standards and attain 24-hour staffing to provide adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards. Also authorized are grants to volunteer fire departments for activities related to the recruitment and retention of volunteers. The SAFER grant program is authorized through FY2010. 

With the economic turndown adversely affecting budgets of local governments, concerns have arisen that modifications to the SAFER statute may be necessary to enable fire departments to more effectively participate in the program. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5) included a provision (section 603) that waives the matching requirements for SAFER grants awarded in FY2009 and FY2010. The FY2009 Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L. 111-32) included a provision authorizing the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive further limitations and restrictions in the SAFER statute for FY2009 and FY2010. 

P.L. 111-83, the FY2010 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, provided $420 million for SAFER, double the amount appropriated in FY2009. The Administration's FY2011 budget proposed $305 million for SAFER, a 27% decrease from the FY2010 level. The FY2011 budget proposal for SAFER could receive heightened interest, given high rates of unemployment and the local budgetary cutbacks that many fire departments are now facing. Meanwhile, on December 16, 2009, the House considered legislation intended to create jobs and passed the Senate amendment to H.R. 2847, would provide $500 million in additional FY2010 funding for SAFER. 

Concerns over local fire departments' budgetary problems have also framed debate over the SAFER reauthorization, which is included in H.R. 3791, the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2009, passed by the House on November 18, 2009. Congress is considering whether some SAFER rules and restrictions governing the hiring grants should be permanently eliminated or altered in order to make it economically feasible for more fire departments to participate in the program.


Date of Report: April 23, 2010
Number of Pages: 12
Order Number: RL33375
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.