Sunday, March 31, 2019

S 715 Introduced – Smart Manufacturing

Earlier this month Sen. Shaheen (D,NH) introduced S 715, the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Act. The bill would require the Secretary of Energy to develop a smart manufacturing plan and to provide assistance to small- and medium-sized manufacturers in implementing smart manufacturing programs. The bill is nearly identical to S 768 that was introduced in the 115th Congress. The earlier bill saw no action beyond its introduction.


The only differences between the two bills is that the staff added two sub-paragraphs to §4(b) of the bill. That paragraph outlined the actions that Federal agencies would take in support of the smart manufacturing plan required by this bill. The two new actions included in §4(b)(2) are:

• Actions to increase cybersecurity in smart manufacturing infrastructure;
Deployment of existing research results; and

Moving Forward

While Shaheen is not a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to which this bill was assigned for consideration, Sen. Alexander (R,TN) is. Adding Alexander as a cosponsor may see this bill considered by the Committee this session. No regulatory requirements are being added by this bill so there are unlikely to be any philosophical objections to the bill.

The major impediment to passage of this bill is the inclusion of a $10 million authorization for the grant program included in §7. That is small change in the Federal budget, but the money will have to come from somewhere. Shaheen avoided this spending problem in the other portions of her bill by requiring the money for the planning process to come out of Department unobligated funds; this left the spending allocation problem in the hands of DOE not Congress. That would have been difficult to do with a new grant program.


It is interesting to see that one of the new sub-paragraph additions to this bill was similar in intent to a recommendation I made on S 768; readers would be unsurprised to realize that the language was dealing with cybersecurity. Unfortunately, the major cybersecurity suggestion I had for the bill was not adopted in the new version of the bill. I still think that the existing provisions are inadequate, so I would like to re-suggest the following addition be made to the definitions in §3:

§3(10): “VOLUNTARY CYBERSECURITY STANDARDS AND PROTOCOLS -The term “voluntary cybersecurity standards and protocols” means a standard and/or protocol developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) or recognized independent standards setting organizations that an electronic equipment manufacturer, system integrator or system owner may voluntarily apply in the manufacture, integration or operation of an industrial control system, energy management system or information and communication technology system, that would protect such systems from a cyber threat as that term is defined in 6 USC 1501.”

This definition would then be used in new wording for the added §4(b)(2)(D):

“encourage to the development, promulgation and implementation of voluntary cybersecurity standards and protocols in smart manufacturing operations; and”

As I noted in my post on S 768 this simple, generic language could add a significant measure of cybersecurity support to this bill without drawing any significant opposition from manufacturers fearing new government regulations.

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