S. 2904 would require the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support research on manipulated digital content and information authenticity. The bill also would direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create measurements and standards for the development of technological tools that examine generative adversarial networks (GANs), which are used to produce manipulated content.
For this estimate, CBO assumes that the legislation will be enacted in late 2020. Under that assumption, the affected agencies could incur some costs in 2020, but CBO expects that most of the costs would be incurred in 2021 and later.
Using information from the NSF, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would have no significant cost for the NSF because the agency is already carrying out the required activities through its existing grant programs. Using information from NIST, CBO estimates that the agency would require 10 additional employees at an average annual cost of $175,000 each through 2023 to establish a research program on GANs and similar technologies. S. 2904 also would direct NIST and the NSF to report to the Congress on related policy recommendations. Based on the costs of similar tasks, CBO estimates that developing the report would cost less than $500,000. In total, CBO estimates that implementing S. 2904 would cost $6 million over the 2020-2025 period; such spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds.