NITRD Act passes house

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Sorry guys, somehow I missed this when it happened on Tuesday. Melissa Norr at the CRA’s policy blog didn’t, however, and neither did Dan Reed. The CRA’s post contains the text of a letter they sent to the hill endorsing the bill. We’ve covered this bill before here as well.

As a press release from the House Committee on Science and Technology indicates the new bill finally starts to address the coordination recommendations of prior PITAC and PCAST reports

H.R. 2020 strengthens interagency planning, coordination, and prioritization for NITRD by requiring the development and periodic update of a strategic plan informed by both industry and academia. This plan is meant to create a vision for networking and information technology R&D across the federal government, and provide specific metrics for measuring progress toward that vision.

Dan also called out the same paragraph — great minds think alike? I have not yet read the bill (but you can, here) so I’ll rely on some of Dan’s analysis. As he points out, the 2007 PCAST report included the following recommendations

  • Address the demand for skilled IT professionals by revamping curricula, increasing fellowships, and simplifying visa processes.
  • Emphasize larger-scale, longer-term, multidisciplinary IT R&D and innovative, higher-risk research
  • Give priority to R&D in IT systems connected with the physical world, software, digital data, and networking
  • Develop and implement strategic and technical plans for the NITRD program

Thanks to the hard work of many people, all of these were addressed in the NITRD reauthorization bill. Specifically, the reauthorization includes creation of a five year strategic plan, to be updated every three years and assessed by an independent committee whose co-chairs are members of PCAST. The reauthorization also emphasizes the importance of long term, multidisciplinary research and identifies cyberphysical systems as a critical element of the research agenda.

Dan also quotes directly from the bill where it mentions HPC as a strategic collaborative activity that should be managed across the government

(B) encourage and support mechanisms for interdisciplinary research and development in high-performance computing, including through collaborations across agencies, across Program Component Areas, with industry, with Federal laboratories (as defined in section 4 of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (15 U.S.C. 3703)), and with international organizations;

So we appear to be poised to make progress, but the Senate still has to pass the Act. So we are far from out of the woods.