Public Media Policybase

Digital Opportunity Investment Trust Act, 2002

On June 10, 2002, Sens. Christopher Dodd and James Jeffords introduced a bill (S. 2603) to authorize the investment of spectrum auction proceeds in public-service content for digital media, apparently inspired in part by the Digital Promise Project of 1991. Rep. Edward Markey earlier introduced a similar bill in the House. The Senate bill was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

A BILL
To establish the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Digital Opportunity Investment Trust Act’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress makes the following findings:
      (1) The First Morrill Act (7 U.S.C. 301 et seq.), enacted in 1862, and the Second Morrill Act (7 U.S.C. 321 et seq.), enacted in 1890, brought about a significant change in the system of education in the United States by providing for the sale of public lands in the West and the dedication of the proceeds of those sales to funding the establishment of practical, accessible land grant colleges and universities across the Nation.
      (2) The land grant colleges and universities have a focus on research, teaching, and outreach, and continue to this day to be leaders in higher education by providing affordable access to high-quality postsecondary education.
      (3) The land grant colleges and universities also emerged as one of the greatest sources of advanced research that leverages the United States economy and powers the Nation’s global competitiveness.
      (4) The land grant colleges and universities, in conjunction with the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, serve to disseminate information learned from research and link research activities to larger societal needs.
      (5) The potential of advanced Internet, digital spectrum, and other telecommunications technologies to increase the quality and reach of educational resources has barely been tapped.
      (6) Numerous local and regional educational and community organizations are repositories of knowledge, information, and educational resources and programs that, in terms of accessibility to the potential beneficiaries, are fragmented and uncoordinated.
      (7) The Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 established a framework for the transitions from analog to digital television and for the auction of publicly owned analog spectrum.
      (8) It has been estimated that the auction of analog spectrum could yield over $20,000,000,000 in revenues for the Treasury of the United States.
      (9) It is both necessary and appropriate that a substantial portion of the auction funds, stemming as they do from the telecommunications sector, be returned for use in that sector. Therefore, there should be created a multibillion dollar trust, with the trust’s funding coming from revenues earned by the Federal Government from auctions of the publicly owned electromagnetic spectrum, which is the 21st century equivalent of the Nation’s public lands of an earlier time.

SEC. 3. ESTABLISHMENT OF TRUST.

    (a) IN GENERAL- There is established a trust to be known as the `Digital Opportunity Investment Trust’ (referred to in this Act as the `Trust’).
    (b) FUNDS-
      (1) IN GENERAL- The Trust shall consist of such amounts as are transferred to the Trust under paragraph (2) and any interest earned on the investment of amounts in the Trust under section 5.
      (2) TRANSFER OF FUNDS- The Secretary of the Treasury shall transfer each fiscal year quarter, through fiscal year 2020, from the general fund of the Treasury to the Trust, an amount equal to 50 percent of the cash payment received by the Federal Government during the preceding fiscal year quarter from–
        (A) auctions of the publicly owned electromagnetic spectrum; and
        (B) licensing fees derived from the publicly owned electromagnetic spectrum.
    (c) ADMINISTRATION OF THE TRUST-
      (1) DIRECTOR AND DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE TRUST- The chairman of the National Science Board shall appoint the following:
        (A) A Director of the Trust to administer the Trust.
        (B) A Deputy Director of the Trust to assist and advise the Director of the Trust.
      (2) ADVISORY BOARD-
        (A) ESTABLISHMENT- An Advisory Board (referred to in this Act as the `Board’) shall be established to advise in the administration of Trust funds, consisting of 8 members who–
          (i) are citizens of the United States;
          (ii) are not regular full-time employees of the Federal Government;
          (iii) are eminent in such fields as education, telecommunications or information technology, labor, cultural and civic affairs, or the arts and humanities; and
          (iv) will provide, as nearly as practicable, a broad representation of various regions of the United States, various professions and occupations, and various kinds of talent and experience appropriate to the functions and responsibilities of the Trust.
        (B) APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS- The members of the Board shall be appointed as follows:
          (i) 4 members of the Board shall be appointed by the President.
          (ii) 2 members of the Board shall be appointed by–
            (I) the Majority Leader of the Senate, if such individual is not of the same political party as the President; or
            (II) the Minority Leader of the Senate, if such individual is not of the same political party as the President.
          (iii) 2 members of the Board shall be appointed by–
            (I) the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, if such individual is not of the same political party as the President; or
            (II) the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, if such individual is not of the same political party as the President.
        (C) TERMS OF APPOINTMENT-
          (i) DATE- Members of the Board shall be appointed not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
          (ii) TERMS- Each member of the Board shall be appointed for the life of the Board.
          (iii) VACANCIES- A vacancy on the Board shall not affect the Board’s powers, and shall be filled in the same manner as the original member was appointed.
        (D) MEETINGS-
          (i) FIRST MEETING- Not later than 30 days after the date on which all of the members of the Board have been appointed, the chairman of the National Science Board shall call the first meeting of the Board.
          (ii) QUORUM- A majority of the members of the Board shall constitute a quorum, but a lesser number of members may hold hearings.
        (E) BOARD PERSONNEL MATTERS-
          (i) COMPENSATION- Members of the Board shall receive no additional pay, allowances, or benefits by reason of the members’ service on the Board.
          (ii) TRAVEL EXPENSES- The members of the Board shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, at rates authorized for employees of agencies under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, while away from their homes or regular places of business in the performance of services for the Board.
        (F) DUTIES-
          (i) IN GENERAL- Not later than 6 months after the Board first meets pursuant to subparagraph (D)(i), the Board shall complete and submit to the Director of the Trust and the Deputy Director of the Trust–
            (I) a management plan and implementation strategy for the Trust;
            (II) a detailed national research plan identifying critical challenges to telecommunications and education and the research and development needed to meet the challenges; and
            (III) recommendations on how best to manage the Trust.
          (ii) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS- There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this subparagraph $4,000,000 for fiscal year 2003.
    (d) TRUST FUND USES-
      (1) USES OF FUNDS- In order to achieve the objectives of this Act, which include enhancing Federal education programs, the Director of the Trust, after consultation with the Deputy Director of the Trust and the Board, may use Trust funds–
        (A) to supplement Federal funds for Federal education programs;
        (B) to serve as a venture capital fund for the Nation’s nonprofit educational and public service institutions by being dedicated to innovation, experimentation, and research in utilizing new telecommunications and information technologies across the widest possible range of public purposes;
        (C) to invest in new and promising ideas and prototypes that use advanced telecommunications and information to deliver public information and education in the broadest sense to all Americans throughout their lifetimes;
        (D) to enable schools, community colleges, universities, libraries, museums, civic organizations, and cultural, arts, humanities centers, and nonprofit agencies or organizations described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 that are exempt from tax under section 501(a) of such Code to take advantage of innovative telecommunications and information technologies to reach outside their walls and into homes, schools, and the workplace;
        (E) for innovative technologies to reach nontraditional learners, including–
          (i) senior citizens;
          (ii) individuals with disabilities; and
          (iii) members of the workforce; and
        (F) to develop innovative strategies to improve–
          (i) the teaching of mathematics and science; and
          (ii) the academic achievement of students in mathematics and science.
      (2) CONTRACTS AND GRANTS-

        (A) IN GENERAL- In order to carry out the activities described in paragraph (1), the Director of the Trust, with the agreement of a majority of the members of the Board, may award contracts and grants to nonprofit public institutions (with or without private partners) for innovative and experimental ideas and techniques that–
          (i) enhance learning;
          (ii) broaden knowledge;
          (iii) encourage an informed citizenry and self-government;
          (iv) make available to all citizens of the United States the best of the Nation’s arts, humanities, and culture; and
          (v) teach the skills and disciplines needed in an information-based economy.
        (B) EVALUATION OF PROPOSALS- To the extent practicable, proposals for such contracts or grants shall be evaluated on the basis of comparative merit by panels of experts who represent diverse interests and perspectives, and who are appointed by the Director of the Trust, after consultation with the Deputy Director of the Trust and the Board.
        (C) TRAINING AND EDUCATION- The Director of the Trust, after consultation with the Deputy Director of the Trust and the Board, in awarding the contracts and grants under subparagraph (A), may use Trust funds to finance the development and testing of innovative models and materials for education in the use of new telecommunications and information technologies.
      (3) COURSES, MATERIALS, ARCHIVES, SOFTWARE, INFORMATION, PROGRAMS, RESOURCES, AND SERVICES- The Director of the Trust, after consultation with the Deputy Director of the Trust and the Board, may commission the development of online courses, training materials, archives, software, civic information, quality arts and cultural programs, and other digital resources and services of the highest standards to meet the needs of all United States citizens and help the citizens gain access to the best minds and talents of society.
      (4) COOPERATION- The Director of the Trust, after consultation with the Deputy Director of the Trust and the Board, may cooperate with business, industry, philanthropy, and local and national public service institutions, including enhancing the work of such public service institutions by seeking new ways to put telecommunications and information technologies to work in their areas of interest.
      (5) PUBLIC BROADCASTING- The Director of the Trust, after consultation with the Deputy Director of the Trust and the Board, may use public broadcasting’s state-of-the-art digital transmission system in carrying out the Trust’s educational and informational mission.

SEC. 4. CONGRESS.

    (a) REPORT-
      (1) IN GENERAL- Not later than April 30 of each year, the Director of the Trust, after consultation with the Deputy Director of the Trust and the Board, shall prepare a report for the preceding fiscal year, ending September 30, and shall submit such report to the chairman of the National Science Board.
      (2) CONTENTS- The report shall include–
        (A) a comprehensive and detailed report of the Trust’s operations, activities, financial condition, and accomplishments, and such recommendations as the Director of the Trust, after consultation with the Deputy Director of the Trust and the Board, determines appropriate; and
        (B) a comprehensive and detailed inventory of funds distributed from the Trust during the preceding fiscal year.
      (3) SUBMISSION TO THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS- The chairman of the National Science Board shall promptly submit the report prepared under paragraph (1) to the President and Congress.
    (b) TESTIMONY- The Director of the Trust, Deputy Director of the Trust, and members of the Board shall testify before appropriate committees of Congress, upon request of such committees, with respect to–
      (1) the report prepared under subsection (a)(1); and
      (2) any other matter that such committees may determine appropriate.

SEC. 5. INVESTMENT OF TRUST FUNDS.

    (a) IN GENERAL- The Director of the Trust, after consultation with the Deputy Director of the Trust, the Board, the chairman of the National Science Board, and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, shall invest the funds of the Trust in interest-bearing obligations of the United States or in obligations guaranteed as to both principal and interest by the United States.
      (b) EXPENDITURES- The Director of the Trust, after consultation with the Deputy Director of the Trust and the Board, shall not undertake grant or contract activities under this Act until the Trust has received the interest or other proceeds from the investment of the Trust funds for at least 1 year’s duration. Thereafter, the Director of the Trust, after consultation with the Deputy Director of the Trust and the Board, may commence such grant or contract activities at the start of each fiscal year. The Director of the Trust, after consultation with the Deputy Director of the Trust and the Board, in awarding grants or contracts or making other expenditures, shall not obligate funds from the Trust that exceed the proceeds received from the investment of the funds in the Trust during the preceding fiscal year.

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