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109th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                     109-94
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

                                                       Calendar No. 143

   THE MINORITY SERVING INSTITUTION DIGITAL AND WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY 
                        OPPORTUNITY ACT OF 2005

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 OF THE

           COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION

                                   on

                                 S. 432



                                     

        DATE deg.June 27, 2005.--Ordered to be printed
       SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
                       one hundred ninth congress
                             first session

                     TED STEVENS, Alaska, Chairman
                 DANIEL K. INOUYE, Hawaii, Co-Chairman
JOHN McCAIN, Arizona                 JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West 
CONRAD BURNS, Montana                    Virginia
TRENT LOTT, Mississippi              JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas          BYRON L. DORGAN, North Dakota
OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine              BARBARA BOXER, California
GORDON H. SMITH, Oregon              BILL NELSON, Florida
JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada                  MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
GEORGE ALLEN, Virginia               FRANK LAUTENBERG, New Jersey
JOHN E. SUNUNU, New Hampshire        E. BENJAMIN NELSON, Nebraska
JIM DeMINT, South Carolina           MARK PRYOR, Arkansas
DAVID VITTER, Louisiana
                    Lisa Sutherland, Staff Director
             Christine Drager Kurth, Deputy Staff Director
                      David Russell, Chief Counsel
     Margaret Cummisky, Democratic Staff Director and Chief Counsel
 Samuel Whitehorn, Democratic Deputy Staff Director and General Counsel


                                                       Calendar No. 143
109th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                     109-94

======================================================================



 
   THE MINORITY SERVING INSTITUTION DIGITAL AND WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY 
                        OPPORTUNITY ACT OF 2005

                                _______
                                

                 June 27, 2005.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

       Mr. Stevens, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
                Transportation, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 432]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 432) to establish a digital and 
wireless network technology program, and for other purposes, 
having considered the same, reports favorably thereon without 
amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

  The purpose of the bill is to establish a $250 million per 
year grant program within the National Science Foundation (NSF) 
from fiscal years 2006 through 2010 to strengthen the ability 
of minority-serving institutions (MSIs), which include 
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-
Serving Institutions (HSIs), tribal colleges and universities 
(TCUs), Alaska Native-serving institutions, and Native 
Hawaiian-serving institutions to provide instruction in digital 
and wireless network technologies, and enhance the nation's 
digital and wireless infrastructure by increasing the national 
investment in telecommunications and technology infrastructure 
at these institutions.
  The bill is designed to close the ``economic opportunity 
divide'' that exists between the graduates of MSIs and 
graduates of other institutions of higher learning, and thus, 
improve the quality of education for students at MSIs. These 
institutions will continue to play an important role in 
providing the nation with a well educated and talented 
workforce.
  The bill would allow eligible institutions the opportunity 
through grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements, to 
acquire equipment, instrumentation, networking capability, 
hardware and software, digital network technology, and wireless 
technology/infrastructure to develop and provide educational 
services. The grants also would be used for such activities as 
campus wiring, equipment upgrades, technology training, and 
hardware/software acquisition. MSIs could use the funds to 
offer its students universal access to campus networks, 
dramatically increase their connectivity rates, or make 
necessary infrastructure improvements.
  Through a peer-reviewed process, and in consultation with the 
Director of the National Science Foundation, eligible 
institutions could receive up to $2.5 million per year with a 
25 percent cost-sharing (not to exceed $500,000). This matching 
requirement, though, would be waived for any MSI with an 
endowment of less than $50 million.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEEDS

Historically black colleges and universities

  In October 2000 the National Telecommunications and 
Information Administration (NTIA) released a report, 
Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An Assessment of 
Networking and Connectivity. The report was the product of a 
study to gain an overall perspective of the networking 
capabilities and connectivity of HBCUs, and to obtain data that 
would evaluate the capacity of HBCUs to function as part of the 
national global network. The study was sent to 118 colleges and 
universities. Eighty colleges (68 percent) responded.
  The report found that 88 percent of the respondents had 
access to T-1 lines, which provide a bandwidth of a specific 
speed rate and capacity suitable for basic functions, from 
their local Internet service providers and operating companies. 
Forty-three percent of the respondents had Asynchronous 
Transfer Mode technology that allows for greater bandwidth and 
broader Internet technology access. Of the 43 percent that had 
such access, only 45 percent indicated they used the 
technology. Twenty-nine percent of HBCUs reported having access 
to wireless and 43 percent of those with access were using it.
  These technology restrictions limit HBCUs' abilities to 
utilize existing technology applications fully and connect with 
other institutions of higher education. For example, many 
schools do not have video streaming capability. Only 17 percent 
of the respondents reported minimal use of collaborative 
groupware, online registration, e-commerce, and other 
applications. Fewer than 15 percent of the respondents offered 
distance-learning programs. HBCU connectivity with libraries, 
State college systems, the Federal government, and other 
resources remains limited.
  In addition, the study found limited student computer 
ownership. No HBCU reported requiring computer ownership, and 
only 15 percent recommended that students bring their own 
computers to campus. Of the respondents, 60 of the schools 
estimated that 25 percent of their students owned computers, 
and 13 schools reported that no students owned computers. Over 
75 percent of HBCUs indicated that their students rely on the 
universities to provide computers. However, only 50 percent of 
the respondents reported that they provide students access to 
computers in computer laboratories, libraries, classrooms, and 
other locations, while 45 percent indicated that they had 
dormitory common areas with access to the campus backbone.
  The NTIA report suggested that the following goals must be 
addressed: (1) improvement of high-speed connectivity rates; 
(2) a dramatic increase in student computer ownership; (3) 
improvement of HBCUs' strategic planning process; and (4) 
willingness to incorporate innovative technologies into campus 
networks.

Tribal colleges

  Tribal colleges also have demonstrated a need for improved 
technology infrastructure. For example, only one tribal college 
currently has funding for high bandwidth connectivity. All 
tribal colleges have some degree of T-1 access, but most only 
have fractional T-1 access. In addition, the NTIA report found 
that tribal colleges struggle to hire and maintain computer 
technicians, offering salaries at half of the industry 
averages.

Hispanic-serving institutions

  HSIs are two- and four-year colleges and universities whose 
Hispanic-American student enrollment is 25 percent or greater 
of total enrollment. Hispanics represent approximately 14.5 
percent (3.6 million) of the total traditional college-age 
population. By 2006, Hispanic undergraduates are expected to 
outnumber African-American undergraduates for the first time. 
Over one million Hispanics will be academically prepared to 
attend college by 2015. In 1996, Hispanics composed 4 percent 
of graduate students and had particularly low representation in 
advanced degrees in engineering, mathematics, and computer and 
physical sciences. HSIs suffer technology problems similar to 
those of HBCUs, according to the Hispanic Association of 
Colleges and Universities which represents HSIs.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

  S. 432 was introduced on February 17, 2005, by Senator Allen. 
Senators McCain, Hutchison, Lott, Talent, Warner, Grassley, 
Graham, Thune, Santorum, Burns, Pryor, Lautenberg, and Lincoln 
are co-sponsors of the legislation.
  On April 14, 2005, the Committee met in open executive 
session and, by a voice vote, ordered S. 432 reported without 
amendment.

                            ESTIMATED COSTS

  In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate and section 403 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee provides the 
following cost estimate, prepared by the Congressional Budget 
Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                    Washington, DC, April 27, 2005.
Hon. Ted Stevens,
Chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 432, the Minority 
Serving Institution Digital and Wireless Technology Opportunity 
Act of 2005.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Mike Waters.
            Sincerely,
                                     Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Director.
    Enclosure.

S. 432--Minority Serving Institution Digital and Wireless Technology 
        Opportunity Act of 2005

    Summary: S. 432 would create a new grant program at the 
National Science Foundation (NSF) for educational institutions 
that serve minority students. Eligible institutions could use 
the funds to improve instructional capability and 
infrastructure related to digital and wireless technologies. 
The bill would authorize the appropriation of $250 million a 
year over the 2006-2010 period for this program and would 
require grant recipients to provide matching funds under 
certain conditions.
    Assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts, CBO 
estimates that implementing S. 432 would cost $823 million over 
the 2006-2010 period. CBO estimates that enacting this bill 
would have no effect on direct spending or revenues.
    S. 432 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) 
and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary impact of S. 432 is shown in the following table. For 
this estimate CBO assumes that the amounts authorized will be 
appropriated near the start of each fiscal year and that 
outlays will occur at rates similar to other NSF programs. The 
costs of this legislation fall within budget function 250 
(general science, space, and technology).

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      By fiscal year, in millions of
                                                 dollars--
                                 ---------------------------------------
                                   2006    2007    2008    2009    2010
------------------------------------------------------------------------
              CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION

Authorization Level.............     250     250     250     250     250
Estimated Outlays...............      30     130     200     228     235
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Intergovernmental and private sector impact: S. 432 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA. The bill would benefit eligible institutions 
of higher education by authorizing $250 million per year, for 
fiscal years 2006 through 2010 to strengthen their capacity to 
provide instruction in digital network technologies. To the 
extent that public institutions apply for and receive these 
grants, any costs to state, local, or tribal governments would 
result from complying with the conditions of such grants.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: Michael Waters; Impact 
on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Sarah Puro; Impact on 
the Private Sector: Craig Cammarata.
    Estimate approved by: Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                      REGULATORY IMPACT STATEMENT

    In accordance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides the 
following evaluation of the regulatory impact of the 
legislation, as reported:

Number of persons covered

  The Committee believes that the bill would not subject any 
individuals or businesses affected by the legislation to any 
additional regulation.

Economic impact

  This legislation would not have an adverse impact on the 
nation. It authorizes funding for digital and wireless network 
technologies related awards to MSIs.

Privacy

  This legislation would not have a negative impact on the 
personal privacy of individuals.

Paperwork

  This legislation would require each award recipient to 
provide to NSF any relevant institutional statistical or 
demographic data as requested by NSF. Each award recipient 
would be required to submit an annual report to the Director of 
NSF detailing its use of funding. The Director would be 
required to submit to Congress a bi-annual report based upon an 
evaluation of the program including a recommendation on the 
need for continued Federal support of the program.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

Section 1. Short title

  This section would set forth the short title, the ``Minority 
Serving Institution Digital and Wireless Opportunity Act of 
2005.''

Section 2. Establishment of office

  This section would establish an office at the NSF that would 
be called the ``Office of Digital and Wireless Network 
Technology'' (Office) to carry out this Act. The Office would 
have two purposes: (1) to strengthen the ability of MSIs to 
provide capacity for instruction in digital and wireless 
network technologies; and (2) to strengthen the national 
digital and wireless infrastructure by increasing national 
investment in telecommunications and technology infrastructure 
at MSIs.

Section 3. Activities supported

  This section would set forth the specific activities that may 
be supported via a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement 
under the digital network technologies program, including--
          (1) acquiring equipment, instrumentation, networking 
        capability, hardware and software, digital network 
        technology, wireless technology, and infrastructure;
          (2) developing and providing educational services, 
        including faculty development, to prepare students or 
        faculty seeking a degree or certificate;
          (3) providing teacher education, library and media 
        specialist training, and preschool and teacher aid 
        certification to individuals seeking to acquire or 
        enhance technology skills in order to use technology in 
        the classroom or instructional process;
          (4) implementing joint projects 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;
          (5) providing leadership development to those with 
        institutional responsibility for technology education;
          (6) providing capacity-building technical assistance 
        to eligible institutions through technical assistance 
        workshops, distance learning, new technologies, and 
        other technological applications;
          (7) fostering the use of information communications 
        technology to increase scientific, mathematical, 
        engineering, and technology instruction and research; 
        and
          (8) developing proposals to be submitted under this 
        Act and to develop strategic plans for information 
        technology investments.

Section 4. Application and review procedure

  Subsection (a) would require that to be eligible to receive a 
grant, contract, or cooperative agreement under this Act, an 
MSI would 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), 
would establish a procedure by which to accept such 
applications and publish an announcement of such procedure, 
including a statement regarding the availability of funds, in 
the Federal Register.
  Subsection (b) would require the Director to establish an 
advisory council to advise the Director on the best approaches 
for involving MSIs in the program activities described in 
section 3. In selecting the members of the advisory council, 
the Director would be authorized to 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, communities of eligible institutions, Federal 
agency personnel, and other individuals who are knowledgeable 
about MSIs and technology issues.
  Subsection (c) would require that MSI award recipients 
provide the Office with any relevant institutional statistical 
or demographic data requested by the Office.
  Subsection (d) would require the Director to convene an 
annual meeting of MSI award recipients for the purposes of 
fostering collaboration and capacity-building activities among 
MSIs, and disseminating information and ideas generated by such 
meetings.

Section 5. Matching requirement

  This section would require an applicant MSI to commit to non-
Federal cost sharing (directly or through donations from public 
or private entities) in the amount of the lesser of 25 percent 
or $500,000. This cost sharing would be waived for any 
institution or consortium with an endowment of less than $50 
million.

Section 6. Limitations

  This section would make an institution that receives a grant 
that exceeds $2,500,000 ineligible to receive another grant 
until all other eligible institutions that have applied to the 
program receive a grant under the Act. It also requires each 
grant to be administered by an eligible institution.

Section 7. Annual report and evaluation

  Subsection (a) would require MSI award recipients to provide 
an annual report to the Director on its use of the grant, 
contract, or cooperative agreement.
  Subsection (b) would require the Director, in consultation 
with the Secretary of Education, to (1) review the annual 
reports as required by subsection (a); and (2) evaluate the 
program on the basis of such reports every two years.
  Subsection (c) would require that, in the program evaluation, 
the Director describe the activities undertaken by those 
institutions and 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.
  Subsection (d) would require the Director to submit a report 
to the Congress based on the program evaluation, which shall 
include such recommendations as may be appropriate, including 
recommendations concerning the continuing need for Federal 
support of the program.

Section 8. Definitions

  This section would define eligible institutions, using the 
meaning of the terms as defined by the Higher Education Act of 
1965, as ``HBCU and consortia thereof; HSI; tribally controlled 
colleges or universities; Alaska native-serving institutions; 
and native Hawaiian-serving institutions.'' In addition, any 
institution determined by the NSF 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 for that year, 
would be eligible. The Director is NSF's Director, and minority 
business includes HUBZone small business concerns as defined in 
section 3(p) of the Small Business Act.

Section 9. Authorization of appropriations

  This section would authorize appropriations of $250 million 
for each of fiscal years 2006 through 2010 to carry out this 
Act.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

  In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, the Committee states that the bill as 
reported would make no change to existing law.