RD139 - Annual Report of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science (2014)

    Executive Summary:
    The Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS), a permanent legislative study commission created in 1997, continued its work during the 2014 interim to "study all aspects of technology and science and to endeavor to stimulate, encourage, promote, and assist in the development of technology and science in the Commonwealth and sound public policies related thereto." (§ 30-85 of the Code of Virginia)

    JCOTS held its first organizational meeting of the 2014 interim on April 23, 2014. At the meeting, Delegate Tom Rust was re-elected as chairman, and Senator John Watkins was re-elected as vice-chairman. The Commission members also adopted a work plan for 2014. The work plan continued two advisory committees from 2013 -- Electronic Identity Management and Technology and Education. A third advisory committee was created, at the request of Delegate Terry Kilgore, to study the establishment of a consortium on space science education to advance the study of nanosatellite technology in the Commonwealth. The work plan also directed staff to conduct a study related to mitigating damages from geomagnetic disturbances and electromagnetic pulses, as directed by SJ 61 (2014). Finally, the work plan directed the full commission to review and study issues related to cloud computing and student data raised in HB 599 (2014), which was referred to JCOTS for study. Later during the Interim, a fourth advisory committee was established at the request of Delegate Scott Lingamfelter to study access to research equipment at state institutions of higher education.

    The Technology and Education Advisory Committee, chaired by Delegate Kathy Byron, met once during the interim. The Committee received presentations about the innovative use of technology in the classroom in Henry County Schools, the state's broadband pricing project, and Virginia's virtual Governor's Schools. No recommendations were made by the Advisory Committee.

    The Electronic Identity Management Advisory Committee, chaired by Senator Watkins, continued the work of the group from the 2013 Interim. The Advisory Committee ultimately proposed legislation that would create an advisory council, reporting to the Secretary of Technology and the Secretary of Transportation, that would adopt standards related to the issuance of electronic identity credentials and attributes and the use of trust frameworks. If such standards were adhered to, an identity and attribute issuers would not be subject to any civil liability absent gross negligence or willful misconduct. Such legislation was developed after working closely with representatives from the Executive Branch as well as interested private parties. Such legislation was the first of its kind to be developed in the United States. JCOTS recommended the bill to the 2015 Session of the General Assembly.*(1)

    The Nanosatellites Advisory Committee, chaired by Delegate Ken Plum, met twice during the interim and began exploring possibilities for collaborations between state institutions, federal entities, and the private sector relating to the development of nanosatellites. The Advisory Committee did not have any formal recommendations, and JCOTS recommended to continue the Advisory Committee during the 2015 interim.

    The Higher Education Equipment Advisory Committee, chaired by Delegate Lingamfelter and the Honorable Joe T. May, met three times. The Advisory Committee, with considerable input from Virginia's many state institutions of higher education, discussed the variety of specialized research equipment at each institution, and availability of such equipment on a fee-for-service basis to the private sector. The Advisory Committee did not make any formal recommendations, but did identity a need for consolidated visibility of the tremendous assets of the institutions.

    The Commission recommended a continuation of the staff study related to the mitigation of damages from geomagnetic disturbances and electromagnetic pulses.

    The Commission also spent considerable time exploring issues raised by HB 599 related to student data and cloud computing, including a review of actions adopted in other states. In the course of its discussions, JCOTS heard from the Department of Education, experts in education privacy and data usage, industry representatives, and representatives from local divisions. Ultimately, JCOTS did not recommend HB 599 to the 2015 Session of the General Assembly.

    In addition to studying these various issues on the work plan, JCOTS also received its annual update from the Secretary of Technology, the Chief Information Officer of the Commonwealth, and the President of the Center for Innovative Technology.

    Additional, detailed information about the work of JCOTS and its advisory committees, along with copies of meeting materials and proposed legislation, is available on the JCOTS website at dls.virginia.gov/commission/jcots.htm. No further 2014 report is forthcoming.
    *(1) The bill was ultimately adopted by the General Assembly, and became law. See Chapters 482 and 483 of the 2015 Acts of Assembly.