Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the CCC exist?

What questions shape our intellectual future? What attracts the best and brightest minds of a new generation?

What are the next big computing ideas, the ones that will define the future of computing, galvanize the very best students, and catalyze research investment and public support?

The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) seeks to mobilize the computing research community to answer these questions by identifying major research opportunities for the field. The CCC will create venues for community participation in this exciting process.

Who is involved in the CCC?

The CCC is broadly inclusive of the computing research community. Any computing researcher who wishes to be involved is encouraged to be involved.

The CCC Council comprises a standing committee of faculty from around the country, and it works hard to ensure this Council is diverse by institution, geography, research area, and gender/ethnicity.

What is CRA’s role?

The Computing Research Association is the parent organization of the CCC and provides both fiscal and policy oversight to ensure that the CCC activity goes forward with maximum value for the computing research community. The mission of CRA is to strengthen research and advanced education in the computing fields, expand opportunities for women and minorities, and improve public and policymaker understanding of the importance of computing and computing research in our society. This mission nicely encompasses the mission of CCC—to foster exciting new research visions in the computing community which attract support.

The CCC has been established as a standing committee of CRA in cooperation with the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Who is on the CCC Council, and how were they chosen?

The CCC Council comprises a Chair, Vice Chair, and 18 additional members who serve staggered three-year terms. New members are added every July following an open nomination process conducted by a Subcommittee of the CCC with oversight by CRA and NSF.

Beth Mynatt, Georgia Institute of Technology, currently chairs the Council, and Mark Hill, University of Wisconsin, Madison, serves as Vice Chair.

What is the role of the Council?

The CCC Council’s role is to stimulate and facilitate visioning by putting processes into place that stimulate and facilitate visioning in the computing research community. This effort encompasses:

Mobilization (Shaping the voice of the community)

There are times when the field needs to come together to ask difficult questions, such as determine priorities for major initiatives when resources are not sufficient to support all the good ideas. The council helps to shape that process in ways in which there is no tyranny of the majority or the minority.

Brokerage (Strengthening the marketplace of ideas)

Research funding takes place in a marketplace of ideas, a meritocracy in which the strongest ideas prevail. But there exist cases in which bolder, high-risk ideas fail because there is no governing body to ensure that each research project is given a chance to excel. Because ideas come from distributed community, rather than from the “top,” the CCC provides necessary resources to shape high-risk, high return ideas to encompass a viable business plan which ensures that each project will gain necessary traction and the means to succeed.

Advocacy (Promoting research support)

Other fields (physics, astronomy, life sciences) have increased their funding by speaking with one voice regarding needs.

Performance (Proactive position on the field´s value)

As research in the computing fields becomes more important, it becomes more political. There are expectations of high performance—the public wants optimal outcomes for each dollar spent. The CCC maintains an eye on the political end of the spectrum, allowing researchers to understand what is expected.

How does the Council facilitate visioning?

The CCC creates new research visions and brings the appropriate research communities together by supporting visioning workshops and special visioning sessions at major conferences. Visioning workshops proposals are sponsored by the CCC, and organized by members of the computing research community. Since 2010, more than 30 workshops have been funded. Special outrageous visioning sessions at major conferences help the conferences reach out beyond the usual research papers and instead seek out papers that present ideas and visions that can stimulate the research community to pursue new directions. The entire research community can engage in visioning in real time through the CCC blog. The CCC also coordinates closely with federal funding agencies to help transition visionary ideas generated through the above means into new programmatic initiatives.

How does the CCC relate to CRA and to NSF?

CRA and the CCC both are concerned with the health of the computing research community: CRA in a broad-based way, and the CCC with a narrower focus on research visions. One way to view the relationship is that NSF, by funding the CCC through CRA, has provided CRA and the computing research community with the means to dramatically expand our efforts in this particular area. The relationship between the CCC and CRA is extremely close: Andy Bernat serves as the Executive Director of CRA, the Chair of the CRA Board is an ex officio member of the CCC Council, and several members of the CCC Council (including the Chair) are current or former CRA Board members.

NSF funds the CCC through a “cooperative agreement,” meaning that we consult closely with NSF on all CCC activities. Dick Karp from UC Berkeley, Chair of the NSF CISE Advisory Committee, and several other advisory committee members are members of the CCC Council. Jim Kurose, NSF AD for CISE, and a number of other CISE personnel participate in CCC activities in various ways.

Why a Cooperative Agreement Award rather than a traditional grant?

From the NSF Grant Policy Manual, Chapter II Section 210 DEFINITIONS:

d. A COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT* is a type of assistance award which may be used when the project being supported requires substantial agency involvement during the project performance period. Substantial agency involvement may be necessary when an activity: is technically or managerially complex; requires extensive or close coordination with other Federally supported work; or helps assure suitability or acceptability of certain aspects of the supported activity. Examples of projects which might be suitable for cooperative agreements are systemic reform efforts, research centers, policy studies, large curriculum projects, multi-user facilities, projects which involve complex subcontracting, construction or operations of major in-house university facilities and major instrumentation development.

Additionally, it is important to note (Section 221):

…While NSF will monitor cooperative agreements, it will not assume overall control of a project or unilaterally change or direct the project activities. All cooperative agreements will state the nature and extent of expected NSF involvement to ensure that the responsibilities of each party are fully understood.

The cooperative agreement ensures that CCC (CRA) and NSF work together to ensure the success of the CCC. This close working relationship is important because, ultimately, we are interested in creating funded computing research activities.

Is NSF the only funding agency involved?

We are currently developing additional relationships, with NSF’s strong encouragement. The CCC Council includes individuals with strong ties to DARPA, the Department of Energy, NIH, and other agencies. At least one of our visioning activities has received support from multiple Federal agencies in addition to NSF.

In addition, we are working to develop ties with Federal advisory committees, industry (there are several industry members of the Council), and our international partners.

Will CCC decide what is high value research?

The goal of CCC is not to determine what is worth doing, but to help the community create exciting visions of its own determination. The creation of such visions and the process of disseminating them and gathering support for them from the community and from agencies is for the researchers, with CCC Council assistance.

Will CCC decide agency funding priorities?

Deciding upon funding is the privilege and responsibility of each funding agency (within the federal budget process). The goal of CCC is to make the best research visions potential winners in this process.

How are visioning activities funded?

The CCC Council has chosen to create a process based on a Request for Proposals in order to ensure that the process is open and available to every computing researcher. Prospective proposers are encouraged to contact the Council with any questions.

Proposals will be reviewed at least quarterly; but particularly striking ideas may be supported at any time. The proposals are reviewed by the Council and proposers receive feedback from one or more Council members based upon these reviews. As appropriate, external reviews may be solicited.

This process is often iterative, with the Council working with the proposers to craft and enhance a proposal before it is ready for implementation.

Remember – the point is to get people involved in creating exciting research agendas so the Council is ready to work with you to develop your vision.

How can I get involved? or How can I participate?

Check out our numerous activities. Put in a proposal to run a visioning activity or visionary conference track. Or e-mail CCC Director, Ann Drobnis to learn more.