National Quantum Initiative Act - H.R.6227 / S.3143

Overview
Purpose
"To provide for a coordinated Federal program to accelerate quantum research and development for the economic and national security of the United States."
Primary Sponsors
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) / Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Final outcome

President signed amended version of H.R.6227 into law, Dec. 21, 2018.

Summary of Selected Provisions

Selected provisions in the final bill

  • Directs the president to implement a 10-year National Quantum Initiative Program aimed at accelerating progress in quantum information science (QIS) and technology development
  • Creates a Subcommittee on QIS within the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) and a National Quantum Coordination Office to oversee implementation of the initiative (Note: The White House created a QIS subcommittee in NSTC shortly before the House bill was introduced)
  • Specifies that the Department of Energy shall "establish and operate at least 2, but not more than 5" National QIS Research Centers and "shall allocate up to" $25 million to each center per year during the first five years of the initiative
  • Specifies that the National Science Foundation "shall establish at least 2, but not more than 5" Multidisciplinary Centers for Quantum Research and Education and "shall allocate up to" $10 million to each center per year during the first five years of the initiative
  • Specifies that the National Institute of Standards and Technology "shall allocate up to" $80 million per year to QIS during the first five years of the initiative
  • Instructs NIST to convene a "consortium" of stakeholders to discuss the measurement, standards, and cybersecurity needs of the emerging QIS industry
  • FYI's full summary of the bill is available here.

Selected provisions in the original House bill

  • Authorizes $1.275 billion for QIS R&D across DOE, NSF, and NIST over the first half of the initiative
  • Specifies that DOE “shall” allocate $125 million per year to support up to five National QIS Research Centers
  • Specifies that NSF “shall” allocate $50 million per year to support up to five Multidisciplinary Centers for Quantum Research and Education
  • Specifies that NIST “shall” devote $80 million per year to QIS. The report accompanying the bill notes that NIST currently spends about $30 million per year on QIS
  • Instructs NIST to convene a workshop that examines the measurement, standards, and cybersecurity needs of the emerging QIS industry

Selected provisions in the original Senate bill

The leaders of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee introduced a similar version of the bill in June 2018. The committee does not have jurisdiction over the Department of Energy, so those provisions were excluded. The committee approved a modified version of the bill in August 2018, adopting a substitute amendment by Committee Chair John Thune (R-SD) and three minor amendments by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).

The amended bill:

  • Authorizes up to $550 million for QIS R&D at the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology over the first half of the initiative
  • Specifies that NSF is authorized to support up to five Multidisciplinary Centers for Quantum Research and Education and allocate $10 million per year to each
  • Specifies that NIST is authorized to expend $60 million per year on QIS and instructs the agency to convene a "consortium" of stakeholders to discuss the measurement, standards, and cybersecurity needs of the emerging QIS industry
  • Tasks the NSTC QIS Subcommittee with proposing a coordinated interagency budget for the initiative as well as submitting an annual budget and progress report to Congress

In November 2018, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee introduced the "DOE Quantum Information Science Research Act." That bill directs the DOE Office of Science to create between two and five quantum information science research centers and authorizes a budget of up to $25 million annually for each over five years.

    Actions
    Actions on the House bill
    President signed amended version of the bill into law
    Dec. 21, 2018
    House passed amended version of the bill on a vote of 348 to 11
    Dec. 19, 2018
    Senate passed amended version of the bill by unanimous consent
    Dec. 13, 2018
    House passed bill by voice vote
    Sept. 13, 2018
    House Science Committee approved bill
    June 27, 2018
    Bill introduced
    June 26, 2018
    Actions on the Senate bill
    Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved bill
    Aug. 1, 2018
    Bill introduced
    June 26, 2018
    Relevant FYI Bulletins

    The Department of Energy and National Science Foundation are investing over $1 billion in dozens of new research centers designed to foster collaborative research aligned with top U.S. R&D priorities.

    The White House convened a roundtable of federal agency and university leaders last week to discuss how best to structure new research centers and workforce development efforts created through the National Quantum Initiative.

    The enactment of the National Quantum Initiative Act on Dec. 21 creates a multiagency program spanning the National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Science Foundation, and Department of Energy. As part of the initiative, NSF and DOE will each establish between two and five competitively awarded research centers.

    This week, top officials at the National Institute of Standards and Technology sketched out the agency’s three-pronged strategy for advancing quantum information science. Marquee elements include forming a Quantum Economic Development Consortium and commercializing quantum sensors developed through the “NIST on a Chip” program.

    At a Sept. 24 summit, the White House released an initial national strategy for advancing quantum information science, while the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation awarded $249 million in QIS grants. A Senate hearing the next day considered DOE’s role in a National Quantum Initiative.

    Congress sent two bills to the president last week that provide policy direction to the Department of Energy Office of Science and Office of Nuclear Energy, respectively. The House also passed legislation to establish a National Quantum Initiative, which now awaits action in the Senate.

    Last week, the House Science Committee advanced bipartisan legislation that would launch a 10-year National Quantum Initiative to increase coordination and funding of quantum R&D supported by the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and National Institute of Standards and Technology. Meanwhile, in the Senate, leaders of the Commerce Committee have introduced a companion bill, and the Armed Services Committee is seeking to establish a separate quantum R&D program for the defense agencies.

    The House Science Committee plans to introduce a bill next month that would create a 10-year National Quantum Initiative aimed at increasing America’s strategic focus on quantum information science and technology development.

    At an Oct. 24 hearing, House Science Committee members and witnesses voiced concern that the U.S. could fall behind countries that are rapidly ramping up investments in quantum R&D, with some calling for a national initiative to bolster current efforts.