The following was originally posted by Brian Mosley, CRA Policy Analyst, in the CRA Policy Blog on May 24, 2016.
Today the House Science, Space, & Technology Committee unanimously passed the “Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Modernization Act of 2016” (note, as of press time, the act has not been assigned a bill number). The bill is written to update the High Performance Computing Act of 1991 and modernize the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Program in line with recent recommendations from the President’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology (PCast). In his opening statement, House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) pointed out, “networking and information technology ultimately supports and boosts American competitiveness, enhances national security, helps strengthen the economy, and creates millions of jobs.” And in her own opening statement, Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) concurred with Chairman Smith, saying, “when the original High Performance Computing Act was enacted in 1991, I don’t think any of its sponsors could begin to imagine how central networking and information technologies would become to our lives, and to our society.” After short debate, and only one non-controversial amendment, the bill was approved unanimously and is now headed to the full House for a vote.
The Computing Research Association submitted a letter of endorsement to the committee for the bill, saying that CRA is, “pleased to support your efforts to bolster Federal information technology research.” The letter further says:
We believe this Act makes the NITRD program stronger by improving the planning and coordination of the National Coordination Office for NITRD, requiring that the NCO and the NITRD agencies create a five-year strategic plan for the program, and requiring the periodic review and assessment of the program contents and funding. All have been recommendations of the President’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology in their recent reviews of the program.
Looking ahead, since the legislation is bipartisan and non-controversial, it’s likely to pass the full House chamber. However, the bill’s fate in the Senate is less clear; when the House has passed similar NITRD reauthorizations in the past four Congresses, the Senate has failed to consider the legislation. We will continue to monitor the progress of this bill as it moves through Congress and will provide more updates as they happen.