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Commerce, NIST and Implementation of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022

There were many vital takeaways from our recent What’s Next? interview with Dr. Melissa Flagg and Dr. Jennifer Buss on the Chips and Science Act of 2022, but the most crucial insights from Flagg and Buss were about the future role of the Department of Commerce and the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is housed at Commerce) in the implementation of the legislation.

As Dr. Buss commented: “Is the Department of Commerce able to execute?  It’s not a knock on Commerce. It’s just the way that the organizations are set up.”  Dr. Flagg added:  “I think we’ve done this to them.  They’re going to hand all this money to Congress and/or to Commerce and say, ‘Spend it in a year.’ And then they’re going to  come back four months later and say, “Tell me what progress you are making.” That’s not even enough time to hire a contracting officer.”

Regarding NIST, Flagg is “quite bullish on NIST.”  Buss agreed:  ” I think NIST does a wonderful job, not just working with industry, but the industry associations and getting the buy-in from even broader groups and the small companies that don’t have a big say in what’s going on. NIST is going to do what NIST does – and it’s a good thing.  I think as we start to see more of [the] advanced packaging and 3D construction of chips, it’s going to be much more important for NIST to have those standards in place, and doing that now is hugely important  – so that they’re not backtracking and having to fill it in later.”

The implementation of the Chips and Science Act of 202 is, arguably, a marathon not a sprint (although the three to five-year timeline of the law is structured as a spring, which is a telling data point in and of itself).

OODA Loop is tracking this implementation phase.  In the last few weeks, Commerce and NIST both provided the following signals and outcomes.

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Daniel Pereira

Daniel Pereira

Daniel Pereira is research director at OODA. He is a foresight strategist, creative technologist, and an information communication technology (ICT) and digital media researcher with 20+ years of experience directing public/private partnerships and strategic innovation initiatives.