Build analytics capacity to support critical technology strategy


In a Project Hamilton proposal, author Erica RH Fuchs of Carnegie Mellon University and the National Bureau of Economic Research proposes the creation of a national cross-mission critical technology analysis capability to create the intellectual foundations, data and analysis needed to inform national technology. strategy. Specifically, Fuchs’ proposition:

  • Create a Federal Critical Technology Analysis (CTA) program focused on informing technology policy decisions that are cross-mission in nature – for example, covering national security, economic prosperity and social welfare – and therefore beyond the jurisdiction of any federal or private agency to solidify; and,
  • Ensure that the program has a highly flexible and distributed structure capable of rapidly mobilizing experts from academia, industry, government laboratories and government departments.

The challenge

Existing federal agencies relevant to science and technology enterprise are appropriately focused on their missions, but the United States lacks the intellectual foundations, data infrastructure, and analytics to identify opportunities where the value of investment in all missions (e.g. national security, economic prosperity, welfare) is greater than the sum of its parts.

The U.S. government lacks systematic mechanisms to assess the country’s technology strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities and to assess the long chain of vendors involved in the production of mission-critical national products.

Two examples where modern data and analytics—leveraging star cross-disciplinary talent from across the country—and a cross-mission approach could transform outcomes include 1) the challenges faced by the federal government in facilitating the production and distribution of personal protective equipment in the spring of 2020, and 2) the lack of clarity on the causes and solutions to the semiconductor shortage. Going forward, the scaling up of electric vehicles promises similar challenges.

The U.S. government lacks systematic mechanisms to assess the nation’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in technology


Critical Technology Analysis (CTA) would identify 1) how emerging technologies and institutional innovations could potentially transform timely situational awareness of US and global technological capabilities, 2) opportunities for innovation to transform national challenges and American internationals, and 3) win-win opportunities through national missions. The program would be strategic and forward-looking, conducting work on a timeline of months and years rather than days and weeks, and would seek to generalize lessons learned from individual cases to inform data and analysis that government needs to create to support mission-critical technology policy.

To build the intellectual foundations and determine best practices, a pilot program focused on bringing analytical power and talent from academia and industry to critical technology policy issues would precede CTA’s full program. This pilot program would start with a smaller annual budget, perhaps $10 million per year, co-financed by public and private funds.

Once established, the CTA program would have an annual budget of approximately $20 million appropriated by Congress and an additional approximately $30 million from other federal entities funding CTA program analyses. These analyzes would be complemented by a nationally distributed network of experts from academia and industry as well as dedicated staff who serve three to five year rotational terms as program managers and staff. of translation. The teams engaged in the network would be integrated in all disciplines, and the composition of the network would change according to needs.

The program would interact extensively with other agencies. This would be formalized by a program advisory board made up of members from government agencies as well as academia and industry, in addition to rotating government members who would focus on specific projects. Areas of study would be chosen by the program director, with significant input from the advisory board.

The CTA program would produce reports containing data and analysis on the value of different technology investments or policy decisions in different scenarios and for different government missions, potential win-win paths between missions, and generalizable lessons. Federal agencies represented on the advisory board would be required to comment publicly on how they act on program recommendations.

What the CTA program wouldn’t do

Because the program must remain focused on building the intellectual foundation, data, and analytical tools to inform U.S. mission investments in technologies critical to security, prosperity, and social well-being, it would not be not :

  • Resolve short-term issues of the day or week;
  • Become the permanent workplace (e.g. take full responsibility for overseeing technology and supply chains); Where,
  • Build long-term data infrastructure (instead of providing guidance on how other agencies should build such infrastructure).

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