Business Roundtable Urges Administration and Congress to Boost U.S. Technology and Innovation Leadership to Strengthen Our Economy Coming Out of the Global Pandemic

January 27, 2021

Washington - Business Roundtable is urging the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress to quickly act this year on six urgent strategic priorities to boost U.S. technology and innovation leadership to strengthen our economy for the long term as we work to end the pandemic. In a set of recommendations released today, Business Roundtable CEOs detailed policy actions necessary to advance each of the following priorities:

  1. Bridge the digital divide;
  2. Protect consumer data privacy;
  3. Fortify U.S. cyber defenses and trust in ICT supply chains;
  4. Strengthen U.S. global leadership on data and technology policy;
  5. Bolster federal R&D programs; and
  6. Support access to and retention of global talent. 
“By acting on these Business Roundtable priorities, companies and government together can ensure an inclusive economic recovery that bridges the digital divide, protects against malicious cyberattacks and builds a better and sustainable future for all by investing in innovation, expanding our talent pool and creating mutually beneficial global cooperation while safeguarding the fundamental data privacy rights of consumers,” said Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture and Chair of the Business Roundtable Technology Committee. “As an organization representing a broad range of industries that operate in every state and with millions of employees, we strongly believe these priorities should have bipartisan support for their clear, immediate and enduring impact.”

With a focus on expanding participation in and access to the innovation economy at home, reengaging with global partners, pursuing cybersecurity imperatives and reinvesting in fundamental drivers of American innovation, Business Roundtable is calling on the Administration and Congress to take action on the following policy recommendations:

  • Bridge the Digital Divide: To promote broadband deployment and develop a sustainable low-income connectivity program to make sure all Americans can stay connected to their communities, schools, critical services, health care providers and workplaces, Business Roundtable supports: expanding and modernizing support for low-income households to purchase broadband; clarifying and expanding the E-Rate program to provide critical resources to meet student and teacher connectivity needs for e-learning; funding the purchase of connected devices for use in e-learning; accelerating broadband buildout in unserved areas of the country; and supporting access to online health care services.
  • Protect Consumer Data Privacy: Business Roundtable members believe the federal government should take two critical actions to protect American consumers’ data privacy. Congress should pass federal consumer privacy legislation, and the Administration should prioritize continued, constructive engagement with their European counterparts to finalize a new privacy framework for EU-U.S. cross-border data flows.
  • Fortify U.S. Cyber Defenses and Trust in ICT Supply Chains: To succeed in the fight against cyber adversaries, the federal government should improve its defenses against sophisticated and determined cyber threats with a cyber defense strategy that includes: investing in and modernizing U.S. government cyber defenses; operationalizing cyber defense collaboration between private and government entities; improving the resiliency and transparency of ICT supply chains; building a deeper pool of highly qualified and diverse cybersecurity talent; and promoting global cooperation on cyber threat deterrence. 
  • Strengthen U.S. Global Leadership on Data and Technology Policy: To advance global data and technology governance policies that are consistent with democratic values and will accelerate innovation and promote shared prosperity, Business Roundtable supports the U.S. government working to establish global consensus on governance of data and technology; establishing and strengthening international agreements around digital trade; and working multilaterally to ensure that export controls on technology that is essential to national security are effective and support U.S. innovation leadership. 
  • Bolster Federal R&D Programs: Business Roundtable supports increasing federal investment in R&D by substantially boosting spending, including but not limited to early-stage, basic R&D and technologies that are integral to continued U.S. competitiveness, such as advanced materials, quantum computing, semiconductor manufacturing and artificial intelligence. The Roundtable is also calling on government to support collaborative research partnerships.
  • Support Access to and Retention of Global Talent: Business Roundtable is calling on the federal government to support systems to leverage global talent, including modernizing our U.S. system to allow U.S. employers to access and retain global talent. This includes: improving the H-1B system for skilled workers in innovation-intensive fields and allowing the employment of H-4 dependent spouses; maintaining authorization for the Optional Practical Training period for visas held by students in qualifying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields to retain foreign students after graduation; providing a new, streamlined path to a green card for graduates in advanced STEM fields and exempting individuals with special skills (e.g., STEM-related skillsets) from the visa cap; eliminating the per-country cap on employment-based immigrant visas; and transitioning to a digital and predictable system to process immigration benefits.

The full policy recommendations can be found here.