Policy Update for November-December 2020

The following post was originally set as an email newsletter to our friends and supporters.


Re: Lincoln Policy Team Activities for November-December 2020

Dear friend of Lincoln:

2020 is coming to a close, but it has left us all with many questions and urgent policy decisions that need to be made to secure the future. At Lincoln, we have been analyzing the results of the election, its impact on 2021, and the overall state of the technology and policy arenas. In this update, I’m going to give an overview of that work in November and so far in December. Thank you for reading and for supporting us during this important time.

As we get ready for 2021, we’ve updated our program descriptions and about page, and would love any feedback you might be willing to provide.

The Realignment Podcast

Hosts Marshall Kosloff and Saagar Enjeti wrapped up season three of The Realignment podcast with some of their most compelling conversations yet. Richard Hanania argues that culture wars, not economics, drive political realignments. Joe Scarborough discussed his new book, Saving Freedom: Truman, the Cold War, and the Fight for Western CivilizationJane Coaston, the newly announced host of the New York Times’ The Argument podcast, unpacked the 2020 election and its implications. The Weekly Dish writer Andrew Sullivan discussed the prospects for Joe Biden’s presidency, the state of media, and his case against internet censorship.

Recent guests also include Ross DouthatScott GallowayEric WeinsteinJulius KreinAnna KhachiyanMatt StollerAvik RoyLisa Napoli, and many more! If you haven’t already, please subscribe to The Realignment on Apple Podcasts and give it a five-star rating to help us promote the show.

Lincoln Podcast

This fall, we launched Lincoln Shorts, our new podcast hosted by Sean Roberts, Lincoln’s chief technologist. Staying true to the name, the episodes are short—most are less than 15 minutes—and feature conversations with subject matter experts in various tech and policy areas. Recently, technologist Peter Rysavy returned to discuss the status of the pending 5G auction and the impact of the Defense Spectrum Sharing Request for Information. Mark Collier, chief operating officer at the Openstack Foundation, addressed what the innovation community needs from the policy community to make better products. Other recent guests have included the Niskanen Center’s Daniel Takash, Lacuna’s Mark Maxham, and the R Street Institute’s Charles Duan, and many more.

You can now subscribe to Lincoln Shorts on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. We encourage you to check it out and give this show a five-star rating as well.

Research & Commentary

While I’ve been stuck working on grant proposals and planning documents, Dan Lips has been publishing a lot of great new work. In the first of two new white papers, he shows that while federal agencies are banning the acquisition and use of certain information technology with links to nation-states that present a cybersecurity threat to the United States, the same isn’t true of state and local governments. He argues that Congress and federal agencies should prioritize sharing information about security vulnerabilities with state and local government agencies and restrict the use of federal grant funding to prevent the purchasing of technology or other equipment that would put sensitive data at risk. Expanding our security work, Dan published a second paper on combatting the threat of China’s state-managed tech sector, looking at the semiconductor industry and relevant policy questions for U.S. economic and national security. 

The Federalist Society also featured Dan Lips’ work (following up on an earlier research paper) on how Congress can leverage the Government Accountability Office to save taxpayers money, making the case that they should fully fund its budget request. He writes:

In 2020, GAO estimated that its work resulted in $77.6 billion in financial benefits to the government. That’s a return of $114 in savings for every dollar spent on the watchdog agency….Congress is facing multi-trillion dollar deficits and the global pandemic, so its decision about whether to fully fund the Comptroller General’s budget request may seem like an insignificant task, to say the least. But advocates of our constitutional order should recognize that strengthening the Government Accountability Office is a necessary step in restoring Congress’s robust Article I role

As of this writing, the spending bill is expected to pass with $661.1M in funding for GAO, a great result with a significant bump, but shy of their full budget request. A portion of this funding would also be set to expand GAO’s science and technology program, which we’ve advocated for.

The bill contains other provisions we’ve worked for, including a report on GAO’s congressional protocols for technology assessments due in 180 days, a directive for CRS to augment its science and technology capacity, an overall increase in the legislative branch’s funding and staff capacity. There’s also $2M allocated for a modernization account in the House, supporting the important bipartisan reform work of the Committee on House Administration and the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.

In The American Conservative, Garrett Johnson argues that the popular opinion in favor of breaking up and more strictly regulating major technology companies is wrong because doing so would unfairly punish success. He writes:

Instead of seeking to break up or otherwise enforce heavy-handed action against a handful of big firms—tying up all sides in years of costly litigation—what if the better choice is to pursue regulatory reforms that would improve competition up and down, from market-dominant incumbents to scrappy startups? … Such approaches warrant greater discussion and scrutiny in Congress and the administration, which has been altogether too fixated on a few prominent firms, and the emotionally satisfying but imprudent call for breaking them up.

Some of our other writings include:

Coming up early next year, we will have some major research papers coming out on tech competition, legislative branch funding and capacity, and other issues.

Events

Just after the election, we hosted Lincoln’s 7th annual Reboot conference! COVID-19 challenged us to host this year’s event virtually, making the participation and support of our sponsors, speakers, and attendees all the more valuable. Recordings of each day of the conference are available right now on YouTube. Videos of each individual session are also being uploaded. More information about next year’s Reboot conference and details from past Reboot conferences are available at www.rebootconference.org.

In December, we hosted a webinar called The Future of Cybersecurity: Five Years Later, which examined the results of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 and looked ahead to what the new Congress and administration should do to address the ongoing and growing cybersecurity challenges.

View our upcoming and past events here.

Final Thoughts

Thank you again for your ongoing interest and support of our work. We want to make sure our work continues to be relevant to you as we move into 2021, so please email me at any time with suggestions or questions. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and cheers to the new year!

Sincerely,

Zach Graves
Head of Policy, Lincoln Network
zach.graves@joinlincoln.org

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Dan Lips
VP for National Security and Oversight
Garret Johnson Lincoln Executive Director
Garrett Johnson
Executive Director
Zach Graves
Head of Policy
Sean Roberts
Senior Advisor
J. Scott McKaig
CFO and General Counsel
Arthur Rizer
Senior Advisor
Grace Meyer
Head of Development
Marshall Kosloff
Director of Outreach and Media