President Biden sure does love executive orders (EO) – which are a time-honored way to quickly put policies into action when Congress won’t – but which can be, and often are, extinguished by the next president with the stroke of a pen.

President Biden has averaged more EOs per year since the United States’ 39th president, Jimmy Carter, sat in the Oval Office in the late 1970s.

Since taking office last year, the Biden-Harris Administration has issued a total of 105 EOs, and in 2022, several of those orders had big impacts on tech-related issues.

MeriTalk is looking back at the year in review for the techiest EOs to come out of the White House this year, how agencies have responded, and what further steps Feds must still take in 2023 to implement the orders.

Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets

On March 9, Biden issued an EO that takes a broad swing at addressing risks and benefits of digital assets – including cryptocurrencies – and their underlying technologies, and encourages Federal regulators to provide oversight of those assets to guard against systemic financial risks that they might impose.

The EO called on the Treasury Department and other agencies to develop policy recommendations “to address the implications of the growing digital asset sector.” This step was completed on Oct. 3.

The EO asked the Treasury Department’s Financial Stability Oversight Council “to identify and mitigate economy-wide financial risks posed by digital assets and to develop appropriate policy recommendations,” which was completed July 7.

In line with the EO, the Commerce Department worked across the U.S. Government to establish a framework on Sept. 16 to serve as a foundation for agencies and integrate digital assets as a priority into their policy.

Advancing Economy, Efficiency, and Effectiveness in Federal Contracting by Promoting Pay Equity and Transparency

The White House released an EO on March 15 that aims to promote pay equity and transparency in the government and the Federal contracting base through possible changes to Federal acquisition rules.

This EO calls on the Office of Personnel Management to issue a proposed rule to address the use of salary history in the hiring and pay-setting processes for Federal employees. The agency is on track to release the final regulations in the third quarter of the new year.

It also directs the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to consider issuing rules to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in Federal procurement by enhancing pay equity and transparency for job applicants, and employees of Federal contractors and subcontractors.

Enhancing the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee

President Biden on May 4 issued an EO that elevates the importance of quantum information science (QIS) by reconstituting a previously created Federal QIS advisory committee and putting it more closely under the White House’s wing.

Biden appointed 15 members to the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee on Dec. 9. The advisory board held their first meeting on Dec. 16 and will continue to advise the president on the national strategy for QIS on a biannual meeting basis through the new year.

Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety

The creation of a new police misconduct database, and a further evaluation of the use of facial recognition technologies in law enforcement, are among several foundational elements in President Biden’s EO on policing issued May 25 – the second anniversary of the killing of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers.

Among several major initiatives, the EO instructs the Attorney General to create a National Law Enforcement Accountability Database, with mandatory participation for all Federal law enforcement agencies, by Jan. 20, 2023.

The EO also tasked the National Academy of Sciences to conduct and publish a study of facial recognition technology, other biometric technologies, and predictive algorithms that will be used to make any necessary changes to Federal law enforcement practices. NAS began this process on July 7.

The Implementation of the CHIPS Act of 2022

President Biden on August 25 signed an EO to jumpstart implementation of the CHIPS Act – legislation that provides $52 billion of funding to incentivize semiconductor makers to establish new manufacturing plants in the United States. The order aims to “effectively implement” those incentives in collaboration with state, local, and Tribal governments, the private sector, academia, labor unions, and allied and partner countries.

The primary function of the EO was establishing a new CHIPS Implementation Steering Council that will “coordinate policy development to ensure the effective implementation” of the law. They held their first meeting on Oct. 7.

The order also emphasizes that Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young “shall take appropriate actions to promote and monitor” how the CHIPS Act is executed including oversight of taxpayer resources. The Commerce Department published the website to identify the EO implementation priorities.

Ensuring Robust Consideration of Evolving National Security Risks by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States

Under an EO announced by the White House on Sept. 15, technology and cybersecurity issues took a big step up in the Federal government’s process for approving foreign-buyer acquisitions of U.S. assets by adding several tech-related screens to the approval process under which the government can allow – or prevent – those acquisitions to be completed.

Consideration of tech and cyber-related issues will be included as part of the Federal government’s review of foreign acquisitions by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) going forward. The committee is made up of officials from numerous Federal agencies who review foreign investments in U.S. assets to determine whether they would pose national security concerns.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.