On September 6, 2012, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced plans for realigning the Office of Cyberinfrastructure (OCI) as a unit within the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE). With the December 27, 2012 Congressional approval of NSF’s plan for operations through March 27, 2013, OCI has now become the Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (ACI) within CISE. The new division will continue to benefit from the leadership of Alan Blatecky.
As cyberinfrastructure has increasingly become a critical component of the R&D ecosystem, the CISE community has a unique opportunity to help accelerate a new era in scientific discovery and engineering innovation, pushed by fundamental advances in computing, information, and communication technologies and pulled by the expanding complexity, scope, and scale of today’s national and global priorities.
The goal is to more tightly couple foundational research in computing, communication, and information with advanced cyberinfrastructure; engage domain scientists to develop and deploy advanced cyberinfrastructure; use cyberinfrastructure to empower and enable knowledge environments and distributed collaboration; and address long-term sustainability of advanced cyberinfrastructure through cross-foundational and cross-institutional partnerships.
Four main principles guide this realignment:
- Build on Shared Strengths, Interests, and Expertise: Bringing the Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure into CISE builds on the shared interests, expertise, partnerships, and intellectual synergy between both communities. While a number of joint programs existed (e.g., Big Data, Exploiting Parallelism and Scalability, and Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace), integration will enable closer collaborations, relationships, and knowledge sharing – benefitting all NSF programs.
- Strengthen the Commitment to Cyberinfrastructure and Multi-disciplinary Collaborations: Through this realignment, NFS will strengthen its commitment to creating secure, advanced, and global cyberinfrastructure through which multi-disciplinary collaboration networks can effectively address science and engineering grand challenges in an increasingly computational- and data-intensive world.
- Ensure Continuity of Staff, Budget, and Programs: A seamless integration will be enabled by continuity of existing programs and operations and will also help identify new opportunities as programs naturally evolve. CISE will oversee a budget of approximately $865M, including the $212M dedicated for cyberinfrastructure (based on FY 2012 estimates). The new division, ACI, will continue to provide leadership for cross-foundational and cross-institutional cyberinfrastructure partnerships, in addition to its research and education activities.
- Accelerate Transition to Practice and Benefit Society: Enabling the transition of new concepts and technologies into practice will accelerate the deployment and use of advanced cyberinfrastructure to benefit all areas of science and engineering with potential broader societal impact.
During the transition phase, NSF will continue to engage with internal and external stakeholders, including staff across NSF, members of the CISE Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee for Cyberinfrastructure (ACCI), and other members of the external research and education communities. Two internal task force teams were formed – one focused on ensuring the continuity of operations during this realignment and the other charged with developing a strategy to effectively accomplish NSF’s mission for cyberinfrastructure, building on the shared strengths, expertise, and interests of OCI and CISE.
The CISE Advisory Committee will continue to provide advice and recommendations to NSF on strategic opportunities for the community. Similarly, the ACCI will continue its role in providing perspective and advice to NSF on the agency’s plans and programmatic strategies to develop and support cyberinfrastructure. The ACCI will also continue to have representation from every directorate/office.
As NSF and CISE fully implement this integration during the next several months, we will continue to engage and communicate with stakeholders. We are excited to work with you to ensure the success of this new endeavor.
 References: Six Task Force Reports from the NSF-wide Advisory Committee for Cyberinfrastructure. April 2011. Available at: http://www.nsf.gov/od/oci/taskforces/.; Cyberinfrastructure for 21st Century Science and Engineering Advanced Computing Infrastructure Vision and Strategic Plan. February 2012. Available athttp://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2012/nsf12051/nsf12051.pdf.; and Revolutionizing Science and Engineering Through Cyberinfrastructure: Report of the National Science Foundation Blue-Ribbon Advisory Panel on Cyberinfrastructure. January 2003. Available at http://www.nsf.gov/od/oci/reports/atkins.pdf.