On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 589, the Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act. Predominantly a policy bill for DOE, the Act provides direction for the Department on, “basic science research, nuclear energy research and development (R&D), research coordination and priorities, and reforms to streamline national lab management.” The bill is the energy section of the Competes Act, which passed in December during the end of the 114th Congress’ session. Similar to its sister legislation, H.R. 589 passed without objection on the House floor; it now heads to the Senate for consideration and expected passage.
As for how this impacts the computing community, DOE’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program, where the majority of the Department’s computing research occurs, is specifically mentioned in Title III, Section 304. In that section, ASCR is directed to build a, “research program…for exascale computing, including the development of 2 or more exascale computing machine architectures, to promote the missions of the Department,” and to do so in partnership with industry and institutions of higher learning. The section also directs the program director to, “support research in high-performance computing and networking relevant to energy applications, including modeling, simulation, and advanced data analytics for basic and applied energy research programs.” Finally, section 304 also directs the program to develop, test, and support: “mathematics, models, and algorithms for complex systems and programming environments; and…tools, languages, and operating systems for high-end computing systems.”
The Act also handles issues such as technology transfer (Section 106), commercialization of research findings (Section 107), and laboratory improvement program for the National Lab system. (Section 309); all Congressional priorities.
Due to pre-passage negotiations and agreements, the bill is expected to pass the Senate quickly and without controversy. We will update this post when that happens; the bill should be signed into law by the President soon after.