White House science office calls for comments on its digital asset research agenda

The administration of United States President Joe Biden is continuing to elaborate its National Digital Assets Research and Development Agenda. In a request for information (RFI) dated Jan. 26 and previewed by the Federal Register, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) invites comments to help it identify agenda priorities. Individuals and organizations may submit comments of no more than ten pages in length by March 23. 

The White House announced the creation of the agenda in September among the large number of next steps after its unveiling of the “first-ever” Comprehensive Framework for Responsible Development of Digital Assets. As such, the new agenda is part of the spate of crypto-related research activity initiated by the president’s Executive Order (EO) on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets issued in March.

Related: Regulators and industry leaders react to Biden’s executive order on crypto

The RFI said the agenda sought to “shape a whole-of-government effort” to develop digital assets and distributed ledger technology. It was also described as a means to “continue to support research that translates technological breakthroughs into market-ready products” and “kickstart fundamental research.” It stated:

“Research and development (R&D) in this space has often been conducted in a fragmented manner, with limited consideration for the broader implications, applications, and downside risks for the underlying innovations. […] A more comprehensive R&D approach would provide concrete areas of focus towards achieving a holistic vision of a digital assets ecosystem that embodies democratic values and other key priorities.”

A blockchain specialist position was added to the OSTP with the passage of the Chips and Science Act in August. The office has examined and reported on the effects of digital assets on the environment as part of its EO mandate and prepared a survey of central bank digital currency design options as part of the ongoing and so far inconclusive consideration of a U.S. digital dollar.

Reaction to Biden’s comprehensive framework ranged from tepid praise to outright disappointment.

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