DC Dispatch

T2 Touchpoint — January 9, 2019

Published biweekly as part of the FLC’s DC Perspective news content, T2 Touchpoint gathers updates from inside and around the technology transfer (T2) community. News is collected from agency publications, news sites, and DC-central organizations, with original sources, contacts, and links provided in addition to our streamlined synopses. For more information and Touchpoint-related inquiries, please contact dcnews@federallabs.org.

Budget Bulletin

TMF Goes Unfunded in Government Shutdown Appropriations

The Technology Modernization Fund (TMF), after initial murmurs of stalled funding in August, will not be receiving additional appropriations according to a House budget request submitted at the end of last year. The bill, which passed the House during early session hours, would reopen all federal agencies affected by the partial government shutdown except the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In our deep dive into the TMF, we reported that funding for the technology incubator—currently responsible for two federal projects—hovered around $100 million for its first year of use. Although $31.5 million remains, this funding will not replenish unless agencies pay back grants or the government allocates more funding—an unlikely prospect due to no current or significant data showing the TMF’s efficacy.

Despite the bill’s similarity to a Senate version, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) forecasted that the White House would veto a compiled appropriations package. In a July memo, the OMB added “the [Trump] administration believes that any additional funding would be well-utilized and will continue working with the Congress to demonstrate the taxpayer value generated by the TMF.” Whether this conversation will continue into 2019 as the shutdown continues will be an item to watch in the coming weeks.

Policy Pulse

New Bill Seeks to Combat Chinese Tech Theft

Over the past year, domestic discussions about Chinese infiltration of American intellectual property resulted in two fixes, barring Chinese telecommunications companies from government work and evaluating foreign presence at universities. This conversation has continued in the latest convening of the Senate with bipartisan support. Virginia’s Mark Warner and Florida’s Marco Rubio introduced an unnamed bill into consideration to stand up a group within the White House to combat these threats from overseas. The Office of Critical Technologies and Security would create a governmentwide strategy to combat what Senator Warner has called “hybrid cyberwarfare.”

The Office, if created, would link agencies, the private technology sector, and U.S. allies to create safeguards in the international supply chain that would otherwise compromise American intellectual property (IP) theft. The Office would also practice public outreach to educate on the national security implications of foreign tech transfer.

The draft bill can be read in its entirety here.

White House Releases STEM Education Strategy

Last month, we reported that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced plans to update the current five-year strategic plan for STEM education programs. The OSTP has released the new plan. Titled Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education, the updated strategy is linked to three aspirational goals.

  1. Build Strong Foundations for STEM Literacy: In order to ensure that all Americans have access to STEM education, all sectors of educational communities (e.g., state, local, territorial, tribal) need to augment hands-on educational opportunities in STEM fields with digital and virtual experience.
  2. Increase Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEM: To attract diverse participation, data analysis will be used to report demographic statistics and reconfigure outreach practices alongside STEM education efforts and federal agencies.
  3. Prepare the STEM Workforce for the Future: A STEM-literate workforce will need a foundation built on innovation and entrepreneurship. Workforce stakeholders and STEM-adjacent firms will need to link together K-12 educators, as well as university and federal sectors, to create a widespread STEM ecosystem.

Additionally, the strategy focuses on developing and enriching strategic partnerships, engaging students where disciplines converge, building computational literacy, and operating with transparency and accountability. These are employed to “ensure the realization of a shared vision for American leadership in STEM literacy, innovation, and employment.”

Charting a Course is available in its entirety here.

Agency Activities

USPTO Releases 5-Year Strategic Plan

To better strengthen the protection and policy decisions surrounding American IP, as well as the quality of patents and trademarks issued in this country, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently released its 5-year strategic plan. The USPTO confirmed that progress on plan milestones will be monitored and made publicly available on the agency’s website, as well as inside its Data Visualization Center, to ensure quality, robust communications with key stakeholders. USPTO’s Strategic Plan covers fiscal years (FYs) 2018-2022.

The Strategic Plan is organized around three strategic goals and one mission support goal, summarized here, in accordance with the Plan’s Strategic Framework—Consolidated Matrix.

  1. Strategic Goals I and II—Optimize Patent (and Trademark) Quality and Timeliness: The USPTO is aiming to reconfigure application pendency by lowering processing times and streamlining review processes; issue highly reliable patents and trademarks by increasing the quality of prior art available to those evaluating applications; foster innovation at the agency level by improving the patent customer experience and enhancing interfaces available to external users of patent systems, and enhancing operations of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) by retooling standard operating procedures to ensure balance and predictability in deliberations.
  2. Strategic Goal III—Provide Domestic and Global Leadership to Improve Worldwide IP Policy, Enforcement, and Protection: The USPTO is aiming to provide leadership and education on domestic IP policy and awareness by increasing engagement from other government agencies and Congress on IP-positive legislation and advocating for the value of IP as a catalyst for innovation and creativity. The USPTO is also striving for increased leadership and education on IP policy and awareness on the international stage with the same initiatives.
  3. Mission Support Goal—Deliver Organizational Excellence: The USPTO is aiming to enhance human capital management by attracting and retaining a mission-focused workforce; optimize speed and quality of agency technology to establish holistic data governance and IT innovation; ensure financial stability for the USPTO through streamlined and strengthened financial management; and enhance USPTO’s stakeholder interactions with other agencies, like the Department of Commerce, OMB, and Congress.

The 2018-2022 Strategic Plan can be read in its entirety here.

Technology Transformation Services Names New Director

The Technology Transformation Services (TTS), the innovative and T2-focused arm of the General Services Administration (GSA), recently named Anil Cheriyan as its new director. Cheriyan has migrated from the private sector—after a lengthy career as chief information officer at firms like IBM and PwC—to GSA to oversee its internal tech consultancy, 18F. According to 18F’s official website, the TTS suboffice exists to augment government technology initiatives with over 120 federal designers, software engineers, strategists, and product managers. 18F has been responsible for several technology modernization initiatives not unlike the Farmers.gov portal commissioned under the TMF for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Cheriyan will also oversee the Office of Products and Programs, the Presidential Innovation Fellows, as well as the Centers of Excellence, improving IT and digital services at the USDA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Speaking on his new role, Cheriyan said he is “confident we will make tremendous progress in the years to come and look forward to leading the TTS team and serving the public in this important role.”

More on the TTS can be read here.

DC Dispatch