Monday, May 27, 2019

HR 2636 Introduced – Smart Technology

Earlier this month Rep. DelBene (D,WA) introduced HR 2636, the Smart Cities and Communities Act of 2019. The bill is designed to “promote smart technologies and systems to improve community livability, services, communication, safety, mobility, energy productivity, and resilience” {§2}. The bill is very similar to HR 3895 from the 115th Congress.


Most of the differences between the two bills are inconsequential, though a grammatical change in §401(c)(2) from ‘may be not used’ to ‘may not be used’ is kind of interesting.

The one significant change is the addition of a new §205 that would require DOE to establish a Smart City Voucher Pilot Program. This program would be designed to “to improve the access of cities to the expertise, competencies, and infrastructure of National Laboratories for the purposes of promoting smart city technologies” {§205(b)(1)}. It would also expand the DOE’s current Technologist in Residence Program to include ‘smart cities’ efforts. Section 205 includes an annual authorization of $20 million to support the program through 2024.

Moving Forward

As with the earlier bill DelBene is not a member of any of the four committees to which this bill was assigned for consideration. Again, Rep. Lujan (D,NM), her sole cosponsor, is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but his influence on that Committee is much increased with the change in House leadership. I suspect that the bill has a much higher chance of committee consideration than did the earlier bill.

There is nothing in this bill that would drive any ideological opposition, but the spending authorizations (including the new §205 authorization), while federal chump change, still will have to come from somewhere. That will call for some additional backroom negotiations for this bill to move forward.


The general problems that I had with the cybersecurity language in the earlier bill remains in the new language; nothing in the new section alleviates any of those concerns. In a bill like this that attempts to comprehensively address the issues of enhancing the employment of undefined ‘smart technology’, the failure to specifically address the control system cybersecurity issues associated with this new technology is more than shortsighted, it borders on the legislative incompetence.

Then again, it may be deliberate. Adding significant cybersecurity language might have called for the addition of the House Homeland Security Committee to the list of committees from which the bill would require consideration. That added intra-committee conflict might be enough to kill any real consideration of this bill.

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