After years of infighting and inaction, the U.S. Congress finally has pulled itself together to produce three major pieces of legislation bolstering IT, data, and infrastructure that have either passed—or will pass—at the federal level within a span of 12 months.
This is fantastic news for the entire nation, but it is especially important for enterprise data and analytics leaders, who need to know how to take advantage of this newfound government support. We'll address this in this article.
Meanwhile, let's unpack these three significant pieces of legislation and assess their impact on infrastructure, innovation, and U.S. competitiveness on the global stage.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—arguably, the most important piece of federal legislation in a generation—was passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden in November 2021. It is providing $350 billion for federal highway projects over the next five years, with an additional $110 billion coming after that; $65 billion for high-speed internet upgrades; $55 billion for improving drinking water services; $39 billion to modernize transit; along with other funding to total $1.1 trillion.
In particular, it entails an investment into clean energy and energy technology to achieve a zero emissions future and infrastructure for electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations, the lack of which was stalling an even wider adoption of all-electric cars. Within months, EV sales tripled and in February 2023, the Biden-Harris administration announced that a national EV charging network will become reality within two years.
Thousands of companies are starting to refresh power lines, water services, turnpikes, bridges, airports, government compounds, solar and wind energy facilities, high-speed internet stations, and dozens of other projects, and they are expected to stay busy for the next decade at least. The act is meant to bridge the country’s digital divide, providing access to high-speed internet to all corners of the country. IT development and production are enmeshed in most of these projects. What’s more, it also dedicates $2.75 billion to digital skills training and related equity initiatives, meaning it ensures more data engineers and scientists will be entering the workforce.
The CHIPS and Science Act, H.R. 4346, was signed into law by President Biden on Aug. 9, 2022, and is just what the data doctor ordered. This is a serious federal investment in U.S. companies designed to enable more competitiveness in the world market. It also will create hundreds of thousands of new U.S.-based IT jobs, both in development and manufacturing.
The CHIPS Act provides a cool $52.7 billion in subsidies for U.S. semiconductor companies and their entire ecosystems. It means, not only funding for chip companies to open new factories, but also boosting STEM efforts and developing the underlying infrastructure for software-driven digitization. It also adds resiliency into the global chip supply chain after shortages handcuffed industries, such as automotive and consumer electronics, during COVID. "The future is going to be made in America," Biden said, calling the measure "a once-in-a-generation investment in America itself."
The act authorizes $10 billion of that total to invest in regional innovation and technology hubs across the country, bringing together state and local governments, institutes of higher education, labor unions, businesses, and community-based organizations to create regional partnerships to develop technology.
Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Seymore said chipmakers with the largest existing fabrication plants, or fabs, in the U.S. such as Intel, Texas Instruments, and GlobalFoundries will benefit most from the CHIPS Act. But those companies also have enormous downstream ecosystems of suppliers, contractors, consultants, and partners who also will benefit.
Take a close look at the partners of your own company and determine how they might become assets in joining the support structure financed by the federal government. An example would be co-developing a software or hardware project or a specific use-case solution for an in-common client.
This is also about building out American expertise and competitiveness in advanced industries. Many of those businesses are focused on digital tech. Quite literally in the bill’s acronym, fabrication of computer chips has earned a lot of headlines. States such as Ohio, Arizona, and Washington are building new chip-fabrication facilities and data centers due to a set of state and federal incentives.
The most widely publicized new installation is for a massive fabrication plant in Columbus, Ohio, being built by Intel. This is currently being constructed literally in a former cornfield. These are the kinds of investments in next-gen tech the federal government is funding.
But more than digital hardware technologies are racking up big bucks. This is also a general investment in the innovative capacity of the American energy industry and other kinds of advanced industrial processes that will happen on a regional scale. Examples include a battery-development compound in Reno, Nev., 11 new data centers in Prineville, Ore., and large wind-powered energy centers in several California locations.
The CHIPS Act also provides $200 billion for research into AI, quantum computing, and robotics—for government agencies, educational institutions, and the private sector. It will help develop and train new machine learning systems, improve cybersecurity, and educate a new generation of data scientists and AI researchers. For instance, funding is being directed to develop predictive software and algorithms to improve security of the systems and networks. It also focuses on adding security to software development to prevent the intrusion of malware into critical systems. Learn more here.
Lastly, we also have a third piece of legislation: It's called the Inflation Reduction Act because it reduces the federal budget deficit slightly over 10 years. But it’s primarily a climate change and health care bill, which means the data industry again will be heavily involved. This bill was signed into law on August 16, 2022.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in September released its score of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 legislation, which would use fiscal year 2022 reconciliation instructions to raise revenue; lower prescription drug costs; fund new energy, climate, and health care provisions; and reduce budget deficits. It also allocates money to develop and work on various datasets, such as these environmental ones, for example. Again, most of these provisions directly affect U.S. businesses in the data and IT sector, especially those in energy, climate, and health care.
Not only will these huge investments provide physical infrastructure for creating new tech over the next decade, but they are also expected to promote innovations and train new leaders in data science and analytics, IT development and production as a result of these new workplaces and workflows. As next-gen AI tools and best practices invariably speed up and optimize data analytics and software and hardware production, so will the establishment of new and cool places to work for all the new architects, scientists, and engineers of the future.
Ganesh Hegde is a Managing Director of Industry Solutions at Cloudera and responsible for ‘Manufacturing, Auto and Industrial’ verticals. Ganesh has more than 25 years of experience in the manufacturing and software industries. His experience includes working in semiconductor/HiTech industries. Prior to Cloudera, he worked at SAP, GE Digital, Applied Materials and was responsible for the industry strategy, business development, GTM Strategy, product management and marketing helping customers to digitally transform businesses. His extensive industry experience also include working at Semiconductor companies like Intel and Cypress. He is instrumental in reengineering business processes and implementation of various technologies and solutions to digitally transform the operations.