Companion bills supporting the National Quantum Initiative Act were introduce in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who serve as the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, along with Representatives Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), who serve as the chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, announced the introduction of Senate and House bills (S. 3143 and H.R. 6227) of the National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018.
Highlights of the National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018:
· Accelerate research – Establishes the National Quantum Initiative Program to speed quantum research and development over the next ten years.
· Establish interagency coordination – Authorizes a National Quantum Coordination Office and an interagency Subcommittee on Quantum Information Science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to oversee interagency coordination, provide strategic planning support, serve as a central point of contact for stakeholders, conduct outreach, and promote commercialization of federal research by the private sector.
· Support standards activities – Supports quantum information science research, measurement, and standards development, including a 5-year authorization of $80 million per year.
· Establish research and education centers – Sets up National Science Foundation-sponsored multidisciplinary quantum research and education centers including a 5-year authorization of $50 million per year.
· Encourage private sector involvement – Encourages U.S. high-tech companies and startups to contribute knowledge and resources to a national effort.
In H.R. 6227, an amendment to promote access to existing quantum computing and communication systems for users was added during markup, a provision called for by the National Photonics Initiative’s (NPI) National Quantum Initiative Action Plan and supported by the stakeholder community. Although the amendment does not refer specifically to a Quantum Computing Access Program (QCAP), the language gives responsibility to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to find an agency home for the program.
Regarding S.3143, the National Photonics Initiative noted that because of jurisdictional issues, the Department of Energy (DOE) portion of the bill was not included in the Senate version that was introduced. The House version of this portion establishes DOE national research centers, including a 5-year authorization of $125 million per year.
The NPI will be working with the Energy and Natural Resources Committee on introduction of the DOE portion and expects the Senate NQI measure to be considered sometime later this summer. The NPI also plans to work to get similar QCAP-related language added to the Senate version of the bill and then work with OSTP on implementation.