Government Relations Update January 2024

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By Samuel Burns - Internet2 Policy Advisor

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Internet2 Offers Testimony to Federal Precision Agriculture Task Force

On January 31, George Loftus, Internet2’s AVP of Network Services, presented “How Collaboration Sustains the Regional and National R&E Broadband Infrastructure” at the first meeting of the re-chartered Task Force for Reviewing the Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the U.S. at the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Washington, D.C. headquarters. The presentation provided information to the Task Force regarding the existing model used by the research and education community to reach constituencies across the nation with connectivity designed to handle data heavy research applications, including to agricultural and technical colleges in many of the rural areas concerning the Task Force.

The Task Force is a joint effort between the FCC and the United States Department of Agriculture to provide advice and recommendations on “how to assess and advance deployment of broadband internet access service on unserved agriculture land to promote precision agriculture.”

George’s presentation begins at the 1 hour 49 minute mark of the meeting.

NSF Launches Federal AI Resource Pilot

On January 24 the National Science Foundation (NSF) officially launched the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) pilot program. The pilot will serve as a proof of concept over the next two years to drive additional investment into a larger scale “shared research infrastructure that will provide AI researchers and students with significantly expanded access to computational resources, high-quality data, educational tools, and user support.” The goal of the pilot is to bring together assets, expertise, and people from government, industry, and academia to “ensure that AI resources and tools are equitably accessible to the broad research and education communities in a manner that advances trustworthy AI and protects privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.”

This effort was set in motion by an Executive Order signed in October 2023 directing NSF and other federal agencies to assess the capabilities of existing federal resources that could be made available for use by AI researchers under this program.

The federal interagency working group behind the NAIRR pilot is currently conducting a survey to gather information from researchers and educators to gain insight into current and anticipated use cases as well as challenges and barriers to access in using AI resources and tools to inform the planning for the pilot’s structure. Those interested in participating in the survey have until 5:00PM ET on March 8 to submit their responses.

Government Funding Extended to March

On January 19, President Biden signed a new temporary funding extension to keep the federal government running until March. The Continuing Resolution (Pub. L. 118-35) contains a dual track funding structure where certain federal priorities will be funded until March 1 and other federal priorities will be funded until March 8.  The first deadline includes funding for the Department of Energy and its Office of Science. The second deadline covers NSF and the Department of Education amongst many other agencies.

The extension gives Congress a narrow window to conclude funding negotiations. Adding to the challenge of such a tight timeframe, the Senate will be out of session starting February 12 – February 25 and the House will be out of session from February 19 – February 25. While there seems to be general optimism from House and Senate leadership, there is no certainty that funding for fiscal year 2024 will be approved by either deadline.


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