ACM Washington Update
ACM Washington Update
December 21, 2015
Vol. 19, Issue 10
ACM Washington Update



ACM Washington Update recaps ACM's initiatives in the U.S. technology policy arena monthly. Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues in the computing community. View more details on each item below, as well as on the blog. Follow USACM on Twitter and Facebook.

  • ACM sponsored a congressional briefing on STEM education and public-private partnerships.
  • ACM praised a new federal law as an important and historic step forward for K-12 computer science education.
  • USACM submitted comments to the White House on the management of federal information technologies and services.
  • NIST seeks public comments on the use, potential updates, and management of the Cybersecurity Framework.
  • DHS is accepting nominations for its Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee.
  • The FTC will host PrivacyCon on January 14.
  • Submissions for the inaugural ACM/CSTA Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing are due by January 1.

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ACM Sponsors Congressional Briefing on STEM Education and Public-Private Partnerships

The ACM Education Policy Committee joined the National Science Teachers Association, the American Chemical Society, the Afterschool Alliance, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Education Development Center to sponsor a congressional briefing on informal STEM education hosted by the STEM Education Coalition Policy Forum.

The briefing, titled "Informal STEM Education 101: Public-Private Partnerships and Measures of Success," focused on examples of public-private partnerships aimed at helping students develop scientific and technical knowledge and skills. The panelists described how competitions, mentorships, afterschool clubs, and summer programs can help expose students to computer science and other STEM subjects. The panelists said that informal educational opportunities that allow students to explore new interests and discover possible career paths are in high demand.

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith provided opening remarks on the importance of STEM educational opportunities. Chairman Smith co-sponsored the bipartisan bill, the STEM Education Act of 2015, which expanded the definition of STEM for federal programs to include computer science. Congress unanimously approved the STEM Education Act of 2015, and the President signed it into law in October.

Experts on the panel included, Tyler Chandler, Florida's State Director for the Afterschool All Stars; Michael Kaurich, the Operations Director for STEM Action in Maryland; Anita Krishnamurthi, the Vice President of STEM Policy for the Afterschool Alliance; and Nick Hutchinson, the Executive of US2020.

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New Law Will Bolster Computer Science in K-12 Education

ACM praised the enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law as an important and historic step forward for K-12 education in the United States. The law recognizes computer science as one of the central subjects, along with reading and math, that students need for a well-rounded education.

The law contains several education policy priorities that ACM and its partners seek to make a sustainable reality: expanding access to computer science inside and outside the classroom, providing quality training and professional development for computer science teachers, and fostering opportunities and inclusive participation by diverse student populations. The new law also explicitly includes computer science within its STEM provisions and as part of the definition of STEM specialty schools.

"Having computer science explicitly written into the new Every Student Succeeds Act represents an important milestone," explains ACM CEO Bobby Schnabel. "In the 2010 report Running on Empty, ACM and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) proposed that computer science should be included as a core subject across US primary and secondary schools. ESSA demonstrates that this goal, which appeared audacious not many years ago, has now entered the mainstream."

Jeffrey Forbes, the Chair of the ACM Education Policy Committee (EPC), added that the new law takes steps in the direction of fostering greater access to computer science education. "As with the No Child Left Behind law that it replaces, a major goal of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is to close achievement gaps for students," says Forbes. "ESSA makes a number of significant improvements to expand access to computer science education by diverse populations in urban, suburban, and rural areas."

A 2014 report by the ACM Education Policy Committee, "Rebooting the Pathway to Success: Preparing Students for Computing Workforce Needs in the United States," found that few U.S. states are positioned to provide the computer science education required for ensuring future workforce needs are met. The report called for each state to develop an education and computing workforce development plan that includes K-12 computer science education and to align policy, programs, and resources to support the plan.

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USACM Comments to White House on Revised Policy for Managing Federal IT

The ACM U.S. Public Policy Council submitted comments to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on proposed changes to the policy document for the planning and management of federal information services. The document was last updated 15 years ago. The proposed changes would update the policy to support electronic transactions, cybersecurity, modern computing architectures, mobile technologies, cloud computing, and agile development processes.

The policy document, known as Circular No. A-130, Managing Information as a Strategic Resource, provides guidance to federal agencies on how to manage effectively information technologies and information services used within and by the federal government. The guidance aims to foster systems that are trustworthy, resilient, responsive, secure, and manageable over time. The proposed changes seek to address current technical, privacy, and security threats while providing flexibility for integrating and deploying emergent technologies. To help ensure increased privacy and security protections, the proposed revisions would require agencies to make systems less vulnerable by implementing security by design.

In its comments, the ACM U.S. Public Policy Council recommends strengthened treatment of privacy, emphasizing privacy by design and privacy engineering, and the inclusion of open source software as among the software options for federal agencies.

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NIST Seeks Public Comments on the Cybersecurity Framework

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) invites public comments on how its voluntary Cybersecurity Framework is being used, possible updates, and options for the long-term governance and management of the Framework. Comments are due by February 9.

The Framework, officially known as the "Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity," provides standards, methodologies, procedures, and processes for managing cyber risks. NIST is particularly interested in feedback on which portions of the Framework have been useful and what steps can be taken to prevent duplication or conflicts with regulatory requirements.

Stakeholders are asked to consider whether there are updates to technical and other standards that should be incorporated in future updates and whether there are new industry initiatives that could inform any updates. NIST also welcomes feedback on the private sector's involvement in the future governance of the Framework.

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DHS Invites Nominations for Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is accepting nominations for the DHS Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee. Appointees will serve a three-year term and are not compensated. DHS anticipates appointing 17 people. Advisory Committee members are required to obtain and retain at least a secret-level security clearance as a condition of their appointment. Appointees should expect at least two meetings in Washington, D.C. during the year. Nominations are due by January 4.

The Advisory Committee will provide advice and recommendations on programmatic, policy, operational, administrative, and technological issues within DHS that relate to personally identifiable information, data integrity, and other privacy-related matters.

Individuals should have education, training, and experience in the fields of data protection, privacy, cybersecurity, and/or emerging technologies. Qualified individuals from higher education, state or local government, or nonprofits organizations are encouraged to express an interest in serving on the Advisory Committee.

Additional information and instructions for submitting a nomination are available in the Federal Register.

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FTC to Hold PrivacyCon on January 14

The FTC will hold a consumer privacy and security conference, known as PrivacyCon, on January 14 in Washington, D.C. The conference is intended for security researchers, academics, industry representatives, consumer advocates, and regulators. The event will be free and open to the public. A live webcast will be available.

Expert panel and research presentations will address research and trends related to data de-identification, drones, big data, security by design techniques, new vulnerabilities, the Internet of Things, smart homes, voice-activation, and health/fitness apps and devices.

Participants will discuss the latest policy initiatives, ways to further collaboration between researchers and policymakers, and practical steps for companies and consumers to take to safeguard sensitive data.

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ACM/CSTA Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing

The new ACM/CSTA Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing challenges high school seniors in the United States to develop innovative solutions using their knowledge of computer science. Four winners will each be awarded $10,000 and a trip to an awards reception.

Submissions should demonstrate ingenuity, complexity, relevancy, originality, and a desire to further computer science as a discipline. Students should be prepared to describe what the project is, how it was created, and why it is relevant.

The prize is named for David Cutler and Gordon Bell. Cutler is a software engineer, designer and developer of several operating systems including Windows NT at Microsoft and RSX-11M, VMS and VAXELN at Digital Equipment Corporation. He is Senior Technical Fellow at Microsoft. Bell is an electrical engineer and an early employee of Digital Equipment Corporation where he led the development of VAX. He is now a researcher emeritus at Microsoft Research.

Submissions are due by January 1.

Submit a Project - Review the required materials and then fill out the online submission form.

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About Washington Update - ACM Washington Update is produced by the ACM Public Policy Office. It highlights activities of the ACM U.S. Public Policy Council (USACM) and the ACM Education Policy Committee (EPC), as well as other events in Washington that affect the computing community.

About USACM - The ACM U.S. Public Policy Council (USACM) is the focal point for ACM's interactions with U.S. government organizations, the computing community, and the U.S. public in all matters of U.S. public policy related to information technology.

About EPC - The ACM Education Policy Committee (EPC) engages policymakers and the public on public policy issues that relate to computer science and computing-related education, including the importance of high-quality education at all levels to the labor market and the economy.

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