(Senate - July 01, 2005)

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[Pages S7941-S7942]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                        OPPORTUNITY ACT OF 2005

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate 
proceed to the immediate consideration of Calendar No. 143, S. 432.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the bill by title.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (S. 432) to establish a digital and wireless network 
     technology program, and for other purposes.

  There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the bill.
  Mr. ALLEN. Mr. President, today I rise to respectfully urge my 
colleagues to support S. 432, the Minority Serving Institution Digital 
& Wireless Technology Opportunity Act of 2003. This legislation will 
provide vital resources to address the technology gap that exists at 
many minority serving institutions, MSIs. It establishes a new grant 
program within the National Science Foundation, NSF, that provides 
annually for 5 years up to $250 million to help historically black 
colleges and universities, Hispanic serving institutions, and tribal 
colleges to close what I often referred to as the ``digital divide'', 
but is more like an ``economic opportunity divide.''
  Since before I was elected to the Senate, my goal has always been to 
look for ways to improve education and empower all of our young 
people--regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion or economic 
background--to compete and succeed in life.
  Additionally, I have always been one who embraces innovations and 
advances in technology--especially as a means to provide greater 
opportunities or security for Americans.
  In my view, increasing access to technology provides our young people 
with an important tool for success both in the classroom and in the 
  We all know, the best jobs in the future will go to those who are the 
best prepared. However, I am increasingly concerned that when it comes 
to high technology jobs--which pay higher wages--this country runs the 
risk of economically limiting many college students in our society. It 
is important for all Americans that we close this economic opportunity 
  This Nation's economic stability and growth are increasingly 
dependent on a growing portion of the workforce possessing 
technological skills.
  African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans constitute one-
quarter of the total U.S. workforce. Approximately one-third of all 
students of color in this Nation are educated at minority serving 
institutions. It is estimated that in 10 years minorities will comprise 
nearly 40 percent of all college-age Americans.
  Yet, members of these minorities represent only 7 percent of the U.S. 
computer and information science workforce; 6 percent of the 
engineering workforce; and less than 2 percent of the computer science 
  U.S. information technology companies are increasingly relying on 
foreign workers to fill important IT positions. I am not against legal 
immigration, but I say let's properly educate and train Americans to 
get and fill those good-paying technology jobs. Let's make sure all 
American students are prepared to meet the requirements on the 21st 
century workforce.
  However, minority serving institutions still lack desired information 
and digital technology infrastructure. A study completed by the 
Department of Commerce and the National Association for Equal 
Opportunity in Higher Education indicated that:
  No historically black college or university, HBCUs, requires computer 
ownership for their undergraduate students;
  Thirteen HBCUs reported to have no students--not one--owning their 
own personal computer;
  Over 70 percent of the students at HBCUs rely on the universities to 
provide computers, however only 50 percent of those universities can 
provide their students access to computers in computer laboratories, 
libraries, classrooms or other locations; and
  Most of these minority serving colleges do not have the private 
foundation resources to provide financial support to upgrade their 
network infrastructure.
  So it is not surprising that most HBCUs do not have high-speed 
Internet access especially the desired ATM or asynchronous transfer 
mode technology and that only 3 percent of HBCUs have financial aid 
available to help students close the computer ownership gap.
  Access to the Internet is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity. 
Because of the rapid advancement and growing dependence on technology, 
being technologically proficient has become more essential to 
educational advancement.
  The fact is 60 percent of all jobs require information technology 
skills. And jobs in information technology pay significantly higher 
salaries than jobs in non-information technology fields. Thus, students 
who lack access to these information technology tools are at an 
increasing disadvantage. Consequently, it is vitally important that all 
institutions of higher education provide their students with access to 
the most current IT and digital equipment.
  This technology program will allow eligible HBCUs, HSIs and tribal 
institutions the opportunity to acquire equipment, networking 
capability, hardware and software, digital network technology and 
wireless technology and infrastructure--such as wireless fidelity or 
Wi-Fi--to develop and provide educational services. Additionally, the 
funds in this bill could be used to offer students much needed 
universal access to campus networks, dramatically increasing their 
connectivity rates or make necessary infrastructure improvements.
  There are over 200 Hispanic serving institutions; over 100 
historically black colleges and universities and 34 tribal colleges 
throughout our country.
  It is clear that minority serving institutions in the U.S. are 
providing a valuable service to the educational strength and future 
growth of our Nation. These institutions must upgrade their technology 
capabilities for their students. We cannot leave any college student 
  I am proud to say Virginia is home to five HBCUs--Norfolk State 
University, St. Paul's College, Virginia Union University, Hampton 
University and Virginia State University.
  I will continue to look for ways to: (1) improve education; (2) 
create new jobs; and (3) seek out new opportunities to benefit the 
people of Virginia and America. By improving technology-education 
programs in minority serving institutions, we can accomplish all three 
of these goals for students throughout our Nation.
  We all recognize the technology requirements on the 21st century 
workforce call for tangible action, not rhetoric. Our future economic 
and national security needs depend on and demand all of our young 
students have the highly technical skills needed to compete and succeed 
in the workforce.
  We must tap the underutilized talent of our minority serving 
institutions to ensure that America's workforce is prepared to lead the 
  I thank my colleagues for joining me today: Senators McCain, Warner, 
Burns, Graham, Hutchison, Lincoln, Pryor, Talent, Cornyn, Grassley, 
Lautenberg, Lott, Murkowski, Santorum, and Thune.
  This legislation is a significant, constructive, and positive action 
to ensure that many more of our college students are provided access to 
better technology and education, and most importantly, even greater 
opportunities in life.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the bill 
be read the third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be laid 
upon the

[[Page S7942]]

table, and any statements related to the bill be printed in the Record.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The bill (S. 432) was read the third time and passed, as follows:

                                 S. 432

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Minority Serving Institution 
     Digital and Wireless Technology Opportunity Act of 2005''.


       (a) In General.--There is established within the National 
     Science Foundation an Office of Minority Serving Institution 
     Digital and Wireless Technology to carry out the provisions 
     of this Act.
       (b) Purpose.--The Office shall--
       (1) strengthen the ability of eligible institutions to 
     provide capacity for instruction in digital and wireless 
     network technologies by providing grants to, or executing 
     contracts or cooperative agreements with, those institutions 
     to provide such instruction; and
       (2) strengthen the national digital and wireless 
     infrastructure by increasing national investment in 
     telecommunications and technology infrastructure at eligible 


       An eligible institution shall use a grant, contract, or 
     cooperative agreement awarded under this Act--
       (1) to acquire equipment, instrumentation, networking 
     capability, hardware and software, digital network 
     technology, wireless technology, and infrastructure;
       (2) to develop and provide educational services, including 
     faculty development, related to science, mathematics, 
     engineering, or technology;
       (3) to provide teacher education, library and media 
     specialist training, and preschool and teacher aid 
     certification to individuals who seek to acquire or enhance 
     technology skills in order to use technology in the classroom 
     or instructional process;
       (4) to implement joint projects and consortia to provide 
     education regarding technology in the classroom with a State 
     or State education agency, local education agency, community-
     based organization, national non-profit organization, or 
     business, including minority businesses;
       (5) to provide professional development in science, 
     mathematics, engineering, or technology to administrators and 
     faculty of eligible institutions with institutional 
     responsibility for technology education;
       (6) to provide capacity-building technical assistance to 
     eligible institutions through remote technical support, 
     technical assistance workshops, distance learning, new 
     technologies, and other technological applications;
       (7) to foster the use of information communications 
     technology to increase scientific, mathematical, engineering, 
     and technology instruction and research; and
       (8) to develop proposals to be submitted under this Act and 
     to develop strategic plans for information technology 


       (a) In General.--To be eligible to receive a grant, 
     contract, or cooperative agreement under this Act, an 
     eligible institution shall submit an application to the 
     Director at such time, in such manner, and accompanied by 
     such information as the Director may reasonably require. The 
     Director, in consultation with the advisory council 
     established under subsection (b), shall establish a procedure 
     by which to accept and review such applications and publish 
     an announcement of such procedure, including a statement 
     regarding the availability of funds, in the Federal Register.
       (b) Advisory Council.--The Director shall establish an 
     advisory council to advise the Director on the best 
     approaches for involving eligible institutions in the 
     activities described in section 3, and for reviewing and 
     evaluating proposals submitted to the program. In selecting 
     the members of the advisory council, the Director may consult 
     with representatives of appropriate organizations, including 
     representatives of eligible institutions, to ensure that the 
     membership of the advisory council reflects participation by 
     technology and telecommunications institutions, minority 
     businesses, eligible institution communities, Federal agency 
     personnel, and other individuals who are knowledgeable about 
     eligible institutions and technology issues. Any panel 
     assembled to review a proposal submitted to the program shall 
     include members from minority serving institutions. Program 
     review criteria shall include consideration of--
       (1) demonstrated need for assistance under this Act; and
       (2) diversity among the types of institutions receiving 
     assistance under this Act.
       (c) Data Collection.--An eligible institution that receives 
     a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement under section 2 
     shall provide the Office with any relevant institutional 
     statistical or demographic data requested by the Office.
       (d) Information Dissemination.--The Director shall convene 
     an annual meeting of eligible institutions receiving grants, 
     contracts, or cooperative agreements under section 2 for the 
     purposes of--
       (1) fostering collaboration and capacity-building 
     activities among eligible institutions; and
       (2) disseminating information and ideas generated by such 


       The Director may not award a grant, contract, or 
     cooperative agreement to an eligible institution under this 
     Act unless such institution agrees that, with respect to the 
     costs to be incurred by the institution in carrying out the 
     program for which the grant, contract, or cooperative 
     agreement was awarded, such institution will make available 
     (directly or through donations from public or private 
     entities) non-Federal contributions in an amount equal to 25 
     percent of the amount of the grant, contract, or cooperative 
     agreement awarded by the Director, or $500,000, whichever is 
     the lesser amount. The Director shall waive the matching 
     requirement for any institution or consortium with no 
     endowment, or an endowment that has a current dollar value 
     lower than $50,000,000.


       (a) In General.--An eligible institution that receives a 
     grant, contract, or cooperative agreement under this Act that 
     exceeds $2,500,000, shall not be eligible to receive another 
     grant, contract, or cooperative agreement under this Act 
     until every other eligible institution that has applied for a 
     grant, contract, or cooperative agreement under this Act has 
     received such a grant, contract, or cooperative.
       (b) Awards Administered by Eligible Institution.--Each 
     grant, contract, or cooperative agreement awarded under this 
     Act shall be made to, and administered by, an eligible 
     institution, even when it is awarded for the implementation 
     of a consortium or joint project.


       (a) Annual Report Required From Recipients.--Each 
     institution that receives a grant, contract, or cooperative 
     agreement under this Act shall provide an annual report to 
     the Director on its use of the grant, contract, or 
     cooperative agreement.
       (b) Evaluation by Director.--The Director, in consultation 
     with the Secretary of Education, shall--
       (1) review the reports provided under subsection (a) each 
     year; and
       (2) evaluate the program authorized by section 3 on the 
     basis of those reports every 2 years.
       (c) Contents of Evaluation.--The Director, in the 
     evaluation, shall describe the activities undertaken by those 
     institutions and shall assess the short-range and long-range 
     impact of activities carried out under the grant, contract, 
     or cooperative agreement on the students, faculty, and staff 
     of the institutions.
       (d) Report to Congress.--The Director shall submit a report 
     to the Congress based on the evaluation. In the report, the 
     Director shall include such recommendations, including 
     recommendations concerning the continuing need for Federal 
     support of the program, as may be appropriate.


       In this Act:
       (1) Eligible Institution.--The term ``eligible 
     institution'' means an institution that is--
       (A) a historically Black college or university that is a 
     part B institution, as defined in section 322(2) of the 
     Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1061(2));
       (B) a Hispanic-serving institution, as defined in section 
     502(a)(5) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 
       (C) a tribally controlled college or university, as defined 
     in section 316(b)(3) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 
     U.S.C. 1059c(b)(3));
       (D) an Alaska Native-serving institution under section 
     317(b) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 
       (E) a Native Hawaiian-serving institution under section 
     317(b) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 
     1059d(b)); or
       (F) an institution determined by the Director, in 
     consultation with the Secretary of Education, to have 
     enrolled a substantial number of minority, low-income 
     students during the previous academic year who received 
     assistance under subpart I of part A of title IV of the 
     Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1070a et seq.) for 
     that year.
       (2) Director.--The term ``Director'' means the Director of 
     the National Science Foundation.
       (3) Minority Business.--The term ``minority business'' 
     includes HUBZone small business concerns (as defined in 
     section 3(p) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 632(p)).


       There are authorized to be appropriated to the Director of 
     the National Science Foundation $250,000,000 for each of the 
     fiscal years 2006 through 2010 to carry out this Act.