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                                                      Calendar No. 172
116th Congress      }                                   {       Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session        }                                   {       116-70

======================================================================



 
          DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY VETERANS' HEALTH INITIATIVE ACT

                                _______
                                

                August 16, 2019.--Ordered to be printed

  Filed, under authority of the order of the Senate of August 1, 2019

                                _______
                                

        Ms. Murkowski, from the Committee on Energy and Natural
                   Resources, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 143]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 143), to authorize the Department of 
Energy to conduct collaborative research with the Department of 
Veterans Affairs in order to improve healthcare services for 
veterans in the United States, and for other purposes, having 
considered the same, reports favorably thereon without 
amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.

                                PURPOSE

    The purpose of S. 143 is to authorize the Department of 
Energy (DOE or Department) to conduct collaborative research 
with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in order to 
improve healthcare services for veterans in the United States.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    DOE funds basic research in high performance computing, 
artificial intelligence, modeling and simulation, machine 
learning, and large-scale data analytics across the national 
laboratory system. The Department also owns research 
infrastructure, including the world's fastest supercomputers, 
and can provide tools and technical expertise in support of 
industry, academia, and other federal agencies' efforts to 
solve complex technology challenges.
    The VA healthcare system offers one example of a complex 
data set that could benefit from support and analysis provided 
through the DOE national laboratory system. Through its 
voluntary data collection program, entitled the Million 
Veterans Program (MVP), the VA has collected detailed health 
information and genomic data on over 600,000 veterans. The MVP 
was established in order to examine how genomic variation 
influences the progression of disease and response to different 
treatments.
    The VA, however, lacks the tools to analyze this complex 
data effectively. In order to maximize the potential for 
analysis, DOE and the VA have partnered to plan a joint 
research venture that will benefit both agencies. The 
partnership combines the healthcare and genomic data generated 
through the MVP with DOE's world class leadership in high-
performance computing and data analytics capabilities.
    The combined MVP CHAMPION (Million Veterans Program 
Computational Health Analytics for Medical Precision to Improve 
Outcomes Now) initiative will allow DOE and the VA to establish 
a scientific computing environment that will not only house, 
protect, and provide MVP data to researchers within the DOE 
national laboratory system, but also facilitate the development 
of big data analytical tools to foster transformational science 
across the Department's mission. Through the development and 
application of complex computer models that detect patterns in 
the VA's data, DOE will be able to identify potential causes 
and warning signs of various diseases. This analysis could lead 
to information that could transform the healthcare the VA 
offers to veterans, particularly through early diagnoses or 
developing more effective treatment mechanisms.
    Further, the MVP will provide enhanced health data through 
the collection of genetic, lifestyle, military exposure, and 
health information about veterans that can be used to 
understand how genes and environment affect health and illness.
    This program will also benefit DOE basic research needs by 
providing a large data set from which to develop computing 
tools, technologies, and techniques that can be applied to 
DOE's core mission research. In order to further the 
capabilities achieved through the partnership with the VA, DOE 
has also established a standalone artificial intelligence and 
big data initiative to explore broader applications of these 
computing techniques within the DOE core mission.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    S. 143 was introduced by Senator Ernst (for herself and 
Senators Hassan, Portman, Gardner, King, and Heinrich on 
January 16, 2019. Senator Rounds was added as a cosponsor on 
May 1, 2019. The Subcommittee on Energy held a legislative 
hearing on S. 143 on July 9, 2019.
    During the 115th Congress, Senator Ernst introduced similar 
legislation, S. 3656, (for herself and Senators King, Gardner, 
on November 26, 2018. Senators Portman and Hassan were later 
added as cosponsor. Similar legislation, H.R. 6398, was 
introduced in the House of Representatives on July 17, 2018, by 
Representative Norman, and referred to the Committee on 
Science, Space, and Technology. H.R. 6398 was reported by the 
Science, Space, and Technology Committee with an amendment on 
September 25, 2018 (H. Rept. 115-974), and passed the House, as 
amended, on September 25, 2018, by voice vote. The Senate 
Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on H.R. 
6398 on November 29, 2018.
    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources met in 
open business session on July 16, 2019, and ordered S. 143 
favorably reported.

                        COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in 
open business session on July 16, 2019, by a majority voice 
vote of a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 
143.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

Section 1. Short title

    Section 1 sets forth the short title of the bill as the 
``Department of Energy Veterans' Health Initiative Act.''

Sec. 2. Definitions

    Section 2 provides for definitions of relevant terms.

Sec. 3. Purposes

    Section 3 sets forth the purposes of the bill, including to 
advance DOE expertise in artificial intelligence and high-
performance computing in order to improve health outcomes for 
veteran populations by supporting basic research; maximizing 
the impacts of the VA health and genomics data housed at the 
national laboratories; establishing partnerships to improve 
data sharing; establishing multiple scientific computing user 
facilities; and driving technology improvements in artificial 
intelligence, computing, and networking.

Sec. 4. Department of Energy veterans health research and development

    Section 4(a) requires the Secretary of Energy (Secretary) 
to establish and carry out a research program in artificial 
intelligence and high-performance computing, focused on the 
development of tools to solve big data challenges associated 
with veteran's healthcare.
    Subsection (b) includes components the Secretary may use 
when establishing the program.
    Subsection (c) authorizes the Secretary to enter into 
memoranda of understanding with the VA and other Federal 
agencies as appropriate.
    Subsection (d) directs the Secretary to submit a report to 
Congress detailing the effectiveness of the program not later 
than two years after the date of the enactment.
    Subsection (f) directs the Secretary of the VA to allocate 
up to $27 million during the period of fiscal years (FY) 2019 
through 2023 to carry out this section, subject to the 
availability of appropriations.
    Section 5(a) directs the Secretary to carry out a pilot 
program to develop tools for big data analytics in order to 
advance artificial intelligence technologies to solve complex, 
big data challenges.
    Subsection (b) includes components the Secretary may use in 
carrying out the pilot program.
    Subsection (c) requires the Secretary to submit a report to 
the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the 
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee evaluating the 
effectiveness of the pilot program.
    Subsection (d) directs the Secretary to allocate up to $26 
million for each of FYs 2019 and 2020 to carry out this 
section, subject to the availability of appropriations.

                   COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS

    The following estimate of the costs of this measure has 
been provided by the Congressional Budget Office:

[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]


    The bill would
           Direct the Department of Energy (DOE) and 
        the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct 
        collaborative research on veterans' health care issues
           Require DOE to carry out a pilot program on 
        big data analytics
           Direct DOE and VA to allocate up to $53 
        million in appropriated funds for those purposes
    Estimated budgetary effects would primarily stem from
           Spending of allocations authorized for DOE 
        and VA
    Bill summary: S. 143 would require the Department of Energy 
and the Department of Veterans Affairs to allocate $53 million 
over the 2020-2023 period for collaborative research on 
veterans' health care issues and for a pilot program by DOE on 
big data analytics.
    Estimated Federal Cost: The estimated budgetary effect of 
S. 143 is shown in Table 1. The costs of the legislation fall 
within budget functions 250 (general science, space, and 
technology) and 700 (veterans benefits and services).

                 TABLE 1.--ESTIMATED INCREASES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION UNDER S. 143
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                 By fiscal year, millions of dollars--
                                                      ----------------------------------------------------------
                                                        2019    2020    2021    2022    2023    2024   2019-2024
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Department of Veterans Affairs:
    Estimated Authorization..........................       0       7       7       7       6       0        27
    Estimated Outlays................................       0       6       7       7       6       1        27
Department of Energy:
    Authorization....................................      26      26       0       0       0       0        26
    Estimated Outlays................................       0      14       8       4       0       0        26
    Total Changes:
        Estimated Authorization......................      26      33       7       7       6       0        53
        Estimated Outlays............................       0      20      15      11       6       1        53
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
S. 143 would direct the Department of Energy to allocate $26 million in 2019 from appropriated funds. CBO does
  not estimate any outlays for 2019 because appropriations for 2019 have already been provided.

    Basis of estimate: For this estimate, CBO assumes that S. 
143 will be enacted in late 2019 and that the authorized and 
necessary amounts will be available each year. Estimated 
outlays are based on historical spending patterns for the 
affected activities. CBO estimates that implementing S. 143 
would cost $53 million over the 2020-2024 period.
    Department of Veterans Affairs: Section 4 of the bill would 
authorize appropriations of $27 million to be used by VA and 
DOE to implement a collaborative research program to analyze 
large-scale health and genomic data over the 2019-2023 period. 
The bill does not specify the amount for each year, so CBO 
assumes that between $6 million and $7 million would be used 
each year beginning in 2020. VA has spent $15 million since 
2017 for similar efforts.
    Under the bill, VA would reimburse DOE for research 
expenses associated with the program. The bill also would 
require DOE to report to the Congress on those collaborative 
efforts. CBO estimates that implementing section 4 would cost 
$27 million over the 2020-2024 period.
    Department of Energy: Section 5 of the bill would direct 
DOE to allocate $26 million annually over the 2019-2020 period 
for the department to carry out a pilot program to advance the 
use of artificial intelligence for big data analytics. CBO does 
not estimate any outlays for 2019 because appropriations for 
2019 have already been provided.
    S. 143 also would direct DOE to evaluate and report to the 
Congress on the effectiveness of that pilot program. CBO 
estimates that implementing section 5 would cost $26 million 
over the 2020-2024 period.
    Pay-As-You-Go considerations: None.
    Increase in long-term deficits: None.
    Mandates: None.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: Janani Shankaran 
(Department of Energy); Ann Futrell (Department of Veterans 
Affairs); Mandates: Brandon Lever.
    Estimate reviewed by: Kim P. Cawley, Chief, Natural and 
Physical Resources Cost Estimates Unit; David Newman, Chief, 
Defense, International Affairs & Veterans' Affairs Cost 
Estimates Unit; Leo Lex, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget 
Analysis; H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy Assistant Director for 
Budget Analysis.

                      REGULATORY IMPACT EVALUATION

    In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following 
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in 
carrying out S. 143. The bill is not a regulatory measure in 
the sense of imposing Government-established standards or 
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals 
and businesses.
    No personal information would be collected in administering 
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal 
privacy.
    Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the 
enactment of S. 143, as ordered reported.

                   CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED SPENDING

    S. 143, as ordered reported, does not contain any 
congressionally directed spending items, limited tax benefits, 
or limited tariff benefits as defined in rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    The testimony provided by the Department of Energy at the 
July 9, 2019, Subcommittee on Energy hearing on S. 143 follows:

Testimony of the Honorable Bruce J. Walker, Assistant Secretary, Office 
               of Electricity, U.S. Department of Energy


                              introduction


    Chairman Cassidy, Ranking Member Heinrich, and Members of 
the Subcommittee, it is an honor and a privilege to serve at 
the Department of Energy (DOE or the Department), as Assistant 
Secretary for the Office of Electricity. DOE is charged with, 
among other important responsibilities, providing our Nation 
with premier energy research and development (R&D) activities. 
The work being conducted by DOE is setting the course for 
various advancements in the energy field and beyond. Issues 
like energy storage, improving energy efficiency, creating 
breakthroughs in how we extract and utilize our Nation's fossil 
fuels, and Artificial Intelligence are just some of the 
important areas of DOE research. These are also the topics 
being covered at today's hearing.
    Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on behalf of 
the Department regarding these various pieces of legislation. 
The Administration continues to review all eleven of these 
bills. Below are some highlights and perspectives regarding the 
legislation being discussed today.
S.143--DOE Veteran's Health Initiative Act
    The DOE Veteran's Health Initiative Act authorizes DOE to 
establish and carry out a research program in artificial 
intelligence and high performance computing, focused on the 
development of tools and technology to solve big data and large 
scale analytics challenges in partnership and coordination with 
the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill also requires DOE 
to carry out a pilot program to develop tools for big data 
analytics in order to advance artificial intelligence 
technologies to solve complex big data challenges.
    This bill is strongly aligned with the Administration's 
stated R&D budget priorities including: American Leadership in 
Artificial Intelligence, Maximizing Interagency Coordination, 
and a Workforce for the 21st Century Economy. The 
Administration continues to review the bill.


                        changes in existing law


    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no 
changes in existing law are made by S. 143 as ordered reported.

                                  [all]