Spectrum Modernization Bill Hitches Ride in NDAA

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The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that cleared the Senate Armed Services Committee last week on a bipartisan vote of 25-2 includes the Spectrum Modernization Act, which would direct the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to evaluate a range of IT improvements that would improve Federal government spectrum management.

The Spectrum Modernization Act also has a bipartisan cast of co-sponsors in Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.

“The Federal government is a significant spectrum user, and the management of these spectrum assignments is a critical responsibility,” said Sen. Wicker. “I am pleased that this bipartisan work with my colleagues on the Commerce and Armed Services Committees would establish a whole-of-government approach to spectrum management, and I look forward to seeing this important measure advance.”

The legislation would require the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information to submit a plan to Congress regarding IT system modernization NTIA, which is a component of the Commerce Department. When developing the modernization plan, the bill instructs the Assistant Secretary to look into “potential innovative technological capabilities … including cloud-based databases, artificial intelligence technologies, automation, and improved modeling and simulation capabilities” in order to improve NTIA’s management of Federal spectrum.

“The Spectrum IT Modernization Act is a forward-thinking look at modernizing the technologies and infrastructures for managing federal spectrum,” said Sen. Inhofe. “It highlights how, working together, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration can meet the needs of the public and private sector through thoughtful management of spectrum.”

The Spectrum Modernization Act does not appear to have companion legislation in the House. The NDAA now heads to the Senate floor for full consideration.

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