CRA analysis of the NITRD oversight hearings last week

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Peter Harsha, writing at the excellent CRA Policy blog, gives us a detailed summary of what went on during last week’s House Science and Technology Committee hearing to review the federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program (NITRD)

…the 13 agency, $3.3 billion budget activity that represents the federal government’s investment in IT research and development. The hearing mainly focused on the recommendations issued last year by the President’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology (PCAST) in their review of the federal IT R&D ecosystem, Leadership Under Challenge: Information Technology R&D in a Competitive World (pdf) (which we’ve also covered here). The hearing represents the first step in a process that will result in legislation next year that will attempt to once again amend the High Performance Computing Act of 1991 (most recently amended as part of the America COMPETES Act, passed in Aug 2007) to codify some of those recommendations.

There is far too much in the article to excerpt, although I was interested in the bit about PITAC. My good friend and one time graduate advisor Joe Thompson served on PITAC. Joe was always a big deal in my university days, but his primary research accomplishments were in an area that was only tangentially related to my studies, so I didn’t experience his influence there to the extent that my grid generation comrades did. But the appointment of a Mississippi gentleman to a role of such national visibility was hugely influential on my view of the world.

Finally, there was also brief discussion about Reed’s recommendation, as someone who has served on both PCAST and the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) before it was folded into PCAST, in support of reconstituting PITAC in order to really get adequate oversight of the NITRD program. Though there are some within the Administration who oppose the push to reconstitute PITAC, there was no objection from the committee members to the suggestion — in fact, Chairman Gordon pointed out that their reauthorization of HPCC in the America COMPETES Act actually called for the same thing. So perhaps we can look forward to the return of PITAC in the next Administration.