Bennet Introduces Amendments to Strengthen America’s Technology Competitiveness and the Government’s Digital Workforce

Bennet and Sasse Amendment Would Create a White House Technology Competitiveness Council

Washington, D.C. — Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, introduced three amendments to the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), the legislation now advancing in the Senate to invest in emerging technologies, shore up critical supply chains, and bolster America’s economic competitiveness and national security. USICA includes the Endless Frontier Act, along with other provisions from different Senate committees.

The first amendment, which is co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), would strengthen America’s competitive advantage by elevating technology issues within the U.S. government and establishing a single entity responsible for over-the-horizon planning. Specifically, the amendment would create a Technology Competitiveness Council within the White House to drive a comprehensive National Technology Strategy to secure long-term U.S. leadership across all scientific, economic, and security aspects of emerging technologies. The National Technology Strategy would include a Technology Annex with an investment strategy for an integrated and enduring approach to prioritize, develop, and field emerging technologies.  

The second and third amendments would transform the pipeline of tech talent in the federal government. The second amendment would create a first-of-its kind civilian National Reserve Digital Corps to improve the federal government’s access to America’s growing tech workforce. The Corps would be modeled after the military reserves’ service commitments and incentive structure, allowing civilians to serve on a part-time basis to support critical federal projects and other needs that suffer from a lack of digital expertise.

Corps members would work as short-term advisors, instructors, or developers across the federal government to help mainstream technology in federal operations,  improve data triage and acquisition, and better strengthen technology collaboration between the public and private sectors. 

The third amendment would create new civilian career tracks in the federal government for software development, software engineering, knowledge management, data science, and artificial intelligence (AI) for civilian employees. It would also create similar career fields for the armed services. 

“It is long past time for America to make our technology competitiveness a priority at the highest levels and produce a comprehensive strategy to secure our advantage,” said Bennet. “At the same time, the federal government is woefully lacking in tech talent, even though America boasts the best tech workforce in the world. By creating new pathways in our government and armed services for data scientists, developers, and more, we can begin to close this gap and give America’s digital workforce more opportunities to serve our country.”

“The federal government's main job is national security, but it’s been asleep at the wheel on AI and tech issues. America still has an advantage, but our edge over our adversaries — like China — is shrinking. Our bipartisan legislation would create a Technology Competitiveness Council within the White House to drive a National Technology Strategy. The goal is pretty straightforward: America needs to prioritize emerging technologies because this is a critical national security responsibility. The Chinese Communist Party is leveraging everything it’s got, but American ingenuity is up to the challenge,” said Sasse.

Bennet’s amendments draw on recommendations from the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, an expert group chaired by Eric Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures and former CEO of Google, to consider how to advance the development of AI, machine learning, and associated technologies to address the national security and defense needs of the United States.

The amendments also build on Bennet’s bipartisan amendments to USICA that he introduced last week with Sasse to promote democratic values and support small businesses in emerging technologies.