House Democrats have innovation on their minds

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The outstanding Computing Research Policy Blog has an analysis of what the Democrats propose to do with respect to science and computing to stimulate the economy. You can read the full text of the draft legislation as well as the committee report online.

Here are some highlights from the legislation related to computing and high performance computing

$100 million increase for the Advanced Scientific Computing Research program. The only other program in Science to get a specific call-out is the brand new Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), which would receive $400 million.

The NSF gets an additional $3B,

Of the $3 billion, $2.5 billion would go to the Research and Related Activities Account, home of NSF’s core research efforts. Of that $2.5 billion, 300 million would go to the Major Research Instrumentation program and an additional $200 million for academic research facilities modernization. This leaves an additional $2.0 billion to be spread among the research directorates for their core programs!

Plus lots more, for NIST, NIH, and others. The CRA is very upbeat on this proposal, banking on the perspective that science and technology innovation will drive the economy out of the dumper.

In summary, though, this looks awfully good to us and will likely go a long way towards recharging the Nation’s innovation engine.

I’ve been a federal employee off and on for the past 15 years (more off than on), and one thing I’ve learned is to not underestimate any branch of the government’s ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Something in favor of this bill is the presidential honeymoon.

I haven’t read the bill text (and probably won’t, I’m pushed right now), but a text search for combinations of HPC and supercomputing didn’t turn up anything. There does appear to be a lot of discretion in this bill for the various agency directors to do the Right Thing, which I’m in favor of in general. Hopefully the bill will be delayed long enough that the agencies will have their new heads and that the rotation will open an opportunity to bring in new thinking.


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