On October 28, experts from academia and government told a congressional panel that the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) program remains a crucial part of the extraordinarily productive computing research ecosystem that has made the U.S. the world leader in IT and deserves further support.
The experts were witnesses at a hearing called by the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology to review the status of the NITRD program in advance of possible reauthorization legislation from the committee.
The speakers included:
- CRA Board Member and CCC Council Chair Greg Hager, who also served as the co-Chair of a working group of the President’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology charged with reviewing the NITRD program;
- Keith Marzullo, who currently heads the National Coordinating Office for NITRD;
- and Ed Seidel, who heads the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign.
All three made the case that while the landscape for computing research has changed significantly since NITRD was first established by the High Performance Computing and Communications Act of 1991, the need for the Federal investment in long-term, fundamental research has never been more important. Hager spelled out eight key areas of research highlighted by PCAST: Cybersecurity, Health, Cyber-human systems, Privacy, IT-based Interaction with the Physical World, Data-Intensive Computing, High-capability Computing, and Foundational IT research. (You can read all three witnesses written testimony, or watch a video of the hearing, from the committee website.)
The committee members shared their support for the program and also asked the speakers questions about areas of concern.
The hearing is groundwork for any legislative action the committee might take to reauthorize the NITRD program. The House has attempted to reauthorize the program — to update the legislation authorizing its operations to reflect the current environment for research — in each of the last three congresses only to see the efforts die in the Senate. The committee appears interested in using the PCAST review to inform a fourth try soon. We’ll have more detail on that as it becomes available.