On January 24, 2022, the Department of Commerce issued a Federal Register notice requesting information that will assist the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to guide programs designed to support a strong domestic semiconductor industry. The notice seeks public comment that will “inform the planning and design of potential programs to incentivize investment in semiconductor manufacturing facilities and associated ecosystems; provide for shared infrastructure to accelerate semiconductor research, development, and prototyping; and support research related to advanced packaging and advanced metrology to ensure a robust domestic semiconductor industry.”

This request for information comes after the Department released Results from Semiconductor Supply Chain Request for Information, which is based on responses to the September 2021 Request for Public Comments on Risks in the Semiconductor Supply Chain. See Update of September 29, 2021. In prepared remarks, Secretary Gina Raimondo stated that “The United States faces both an immediate supply shortage that’s driving up prices and a long-term threat to America’s economic and national security if we don’t increase domestic supply of chips…. As demand for semiconductors will only increase, we need smart, strategic investments to shore up our domestic supply chain – and we need it now. Not only to address current shortage and supply chain issues but to help position America to lead globally by investing in our semiconductor manufacturing and R&D and enhance American competitiveness.”

The Department published the current notice requesting information to seek input on a potential set of programs in general and the following topics specifically:

  • A Semiconductor Financial Assistance Program that would provide funding, through a competitive process, to private entities, consortia of private entities, or public-private consortia to incentivize the establishment, expansion, or modernization of semiconductor manufacturing facilities and supporting infrastructure.
  • A National Semiconductor Technology Center to serve as a hub of talent, knowledge, investment, equipment and toolsets.
  • An Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program that focuses on the challenge of embedding fragile computer chips into very small configurations that combine multiple systems resulting in benefits including lower costs, increased functionality and improved energy efficiency.
  • Comments on the current and future Workforce Development Needs of the Industry for a highly skilled workforce capable of meeting current and future needs of the public and private sectors.

Comments submitted to the Department will help to inform the planning and implementation of programs to (1) protect and extend the U.S. semiconductor industry; (2) secure the supply of chips for critical, commercial and non-commercial U.S. sectors; and (3) promote the economic viability of U.S. industry in research and development, manufacturing, and other critical areas of the semiconductor value chain. At a later date, public workshops to explore in more detail questions raised in this January 2022 notice may be scheduled. The public may monitor developments on www.nist.gov/semiconductors.

Interested parties must submit any comments no later than March 25, 2022. All comments must be submitted via www.regulations.gov on docket DOC-2021-0010.