Peter Harsha over at the CRA’s Policy Blog is reporting that the president will sign the America COMPETES Act today.
This is a good bill for science in the US
It addresses federal support for research — both authorizing large amounts of new funding for three key science agencies (National Science Foundation, NIST, and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science), setting a target to double the agencies budgets over 7 years, and by creating a new high-risk research agency at the Department of Energy (called the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, or ARPA-E, in a nod to the DARPA-like character Congress hopes the agency will adopt). And the bill addresses a diversity of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education efforts.
In terms of HPC, we’ve got quite a bit of ink, mostly in section 7024.
The first is Section 7024, “High-performance Computing and Networking” (if you’re following along at home (pdf)) — the inclusion of the High-Performance Computing Research and Development Act that has been much discussed on these pages since some of the earliest days of this blog. The bill has been proposed in various forms in every session of Congress since the 106th (we’re now in the 110th) and has never gained the full approval of the Congress — almost always for reasons unrelated to the bill.
This section of the bill also authorizes NSF to do new research on “Advanced Information and Communications Technology Research” and allows NSF to fund multiyear, multidisciplinary “Centers for Communications Research.”
And, finally, the bill
…requires the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop and maintain a research, development, and deployment roadmap for the provision of federal high-performance computing systems; and there’s now an explicit requirement that the President’s advisory committee for IT (now PCAST) review not only the goals of the federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program, but the funding levels as well and report the results of that review to Congress every two years.
This is quite a comprehensive package, creating new agencies and funding new efforts to bring women and minorities into science and engineering. You could certainly spend your time less productively than in reading the whole post.