Federal agencies are already working to develop policy on quantum computing in the United States, but members of the public now also have a chance to weigh in on how the country should tackle the emerging IT field.

The White House’s National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Quantum Information Science issued a request for information May 30 “to inform the subcommittee as the government develops the means to address the specific policy recommendations included in the strategic overview and the overall goals of the National Quantum Initiative Act."

That legislation requires the government to create a 10-year plan for accelerating quantum innovation and its uses in information science and technology.

Quantum computing is a relatively new field, first theorized in the 1980s, that aims to address problems that regular computers don’t have the capacity to solve by using the principles of superposition and entanglement.

Some experts have said that once quantum computers become more operational, they could render modern forms of cybersecurity obsolete, as the quantum computer is able to simultaneously test a large number of passwords or encryption keys that the standard computer can’t keep up with.

Many nations have therefore invested heavily in quantum research in order to get out ahead of that possibility.

The quantum RFI asks respondents to address eight questions:

  1. What specific actions could the U.S. government take that would contribute best to implementing the policy recommendations in the National Quantum Initiative Act’s strategic overview?
  2. What are the scientific and technological challenges that, with substantial resources and focus over the next ten years, will transform the quantum information science research and development landscape?
  3. Regarding industrial engagement, what roles can the U.S. government play in enabling the innovation ecosystem around QIS-related technologies? Are there critical barriers for industrial innovation in this space? How can these barriers be addressed? What role can the U.S. government play in mitigating early or premature investment risks?
  4. How can the U.S. government engage with academia and other workforce development programs and stakeholders to appropriately train and maintain researchers in QIS while expanding the size and scope of the `quantum-smart’ workforce?
  5. What existing infrastructure should be leveraged, and what new infrastructure could be considered, to foster future breakthroughs in QIS research and development?
  6. What other activities/partnerships could the U.S. government use to engage with stakeholders to ensure America's prosperity and economic growth through QIS research and development?
  7. How can the United States continue to attract and retain the best domestic and international talent and expertise in QIS?
  8. How can the United States ensure that U.S. researchers in QIS have access to cutting-edge international technologies, research facilities, and knowledge?

Responses to the RFI are due by July 29 to either nsfscqis@nsf.gov or via a designated survey site.

Jessie Bur covered the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees for Federal Times.

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