This article is published in the January 2007 issue.

Random Ramblings

Musings from the Chair

The November mid-term election changed the political landscape in Washington, with both the House and Senate shifting from Republican to Democratic control. As I write this column, many TV pundits are busily debating the broad implications of this change. More cogently, CRA’s Peter Harsha is writing about the policy ramifications in both the CRA government affairs blog ( and elsewhere in this issue of CRN. Meanwhile, CRA is not waiting for the policy waters to clear, but is continuing an active role in the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation, advocating increased funding for the physical sciences, of which computing is a central component.

As part of this activity, we remain hopeful that some version of the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), albeit probably not by that name, will be approved. The initiative would place the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science on a budgetary doubling trajectory that complements that experienced by the National Institutes of Health. This badly needed “shot in the arm” would help address the disparity between proposal submission and acceptance rates and enable NSF to invest in new initiatives.

In previous columns, I wrote about the nascent Computing Community Consortium (CCC), whose goal is to foster research visions and community initiatives ( I am pleased to report that the interim CCC council is now operational, with processes underway to create a broadly inclusive, permanent council. In the meantime, the interim council is moving ahead, in partnership with NSF, to launch a suite of CCC activities. Concurrently, CRA is seeking the additional staff needed to support the CCC council and its community engagement. All of us involved in the CCC welcome your ideas and your participation.

As a member of the President’s Council of Science and Technology Advisors (PCAST), I am co-chairing (with George Scalise, head of the Semiconductor Industry Association) a review of the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) program. NITRD is the umbrella for all Federal research programs in IT. The PCAST review is evaluating the balance of the program components and investment levels in the context of the U.S. competitive position. Our goal is to produce a report by the spring of 2007. As with the CCC, I welcome any insights and opinions you may have on our Federal research priorities and investment levels.

Finally, as many of you know, Peter Freeman recently announced that he was leaving the National Science Foundation to join the Washington Advisory Group. On behalf of CRA, I would like to express the computing community’s thanks to Peter for his service as the Assistant Director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) at NSF. Thank you, Peter, for your hard work and your support for computing!

Dan Reed, CRA’s Board Chair, is the Chancellor’s Eminent Professor and Vice-Chancellor for Information Technology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also directs the Interdisciplinary Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI). Contact him at: reed [at]

Random Ramblings