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NIST RFI Regarding the CHIPS Incentive Program That Includes SWACCA’s Hard-Won Davis-Bacon Prevailing Wage Protections

The CHIPS Program Office within the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published a request for information (RFI) to inform the design and implementation of the incentive programs funded through the CHIPS Act of 2022 (CHIPS Act) that President Biden signed into law on August 9, 2022. As you’ll recall, SWACCA forcefully and successfully advocated for over a year to ensure Davis-Bacon prevailing wage coverage on the $52 billion in incentives included in the CHIPS Act to stimulate construction of domestic microchip manufacturing capacity.

Per its notice, NIST intends to release an initial funding document for the semiconductor incentives program within six months of the passage of the CHIPS Act (i.e., February 2023). In a strategy document for the CHIPS for America Fund, the Commerce Department highlights SWACCA’s hard-won Davis-Bacon protections, noting that “Davis-Bacon requirements will apply to CHIPS-funded construction projects, which ensures workers earn local prevailing wages.” The Department also notes that it “expects to prioritize investments in projects that connect workforce training dollars to quality jobs that exceed the local prevailing wage for an industry in the region, including basic benefits (e.g., paid leave, health insurance, retirement/savings plan) and/or are unionized.”

To inform its implementation of the CHIPS Act of 2022, NIST is now seeking responses to 27 multipart questions (available here in their entirety) that collectively address the following issues: (1) use of grants, loans, and loan guarantees (e.g., how CHIPS financial assistance should be designed to be additive to, rather than a substitute for, private sector equity or debt capital); (2) financial assistance for “upstream” suppliers (i.e., companies that provide materials, equipment, or other inputs) for the semiconductor manufacturing process; (3) intellectual property and the policies and procedures that companies and industry groups use to combat cloning, counterfeiting, and relabeling of semiconductors; (4) expansion clawback provisions; (5) taxpayer protections (e.g., types of investments that data suggest have been most effective in promoting inclusive economic growth for workers and communities); (6) opportunity and inclusion (e.g., actions industry can take to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the projects that receive CHIPS incentives and actions NIST can take to ensure that the implementation of the CHIPS incentive programs is equitable and inclusive; and (7) data and data sources that will be important for the agency to collect to build evidence on the effectiveness of the CHIPS program.

Responses to this RFI are due by 5pm ET on November 14, 2022 and can be submitted here using Docket ID DOC-2022-0001. In addition, NIST may hold future workshops to explore in more detail questions raised in the RFI. Details regarding these events will be announced here in advance.

SWACCA’s Washington, DC policy team will continue to monitor and engage on implementation of the CHIPS Act.

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