House passes bill to spend $6.9 billion on IT research projects

House passes bill to spend $6.9 billion on IT research projects

By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

The House recently passed a bill that would authorize the government to spend $6.9 billion on information technology research over the next five years.

The Networking and Information R&D Act would establish the National Science Foundation as the lead IT research organization among seven agencies that would receive funding through the bill. HR 2086 would amend the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991.

NSF programs would receive almost $3 billion, the lion's share of the funds. The NSF funds would go to numerous projects, including:

• $130 million for grants of up to $1 million each for long-term basic research into high-end computing, software and networking

• $220 million for IT research centers
• $385 million for terascale supercomputer studies

• $95 million for university internship programs for industry research

• $56 million for education technology research

• $50 million for the Next-Generation Internet program.

The National Institutes of Health would receive $1.2 billion, NASA $1.1 billion, the Energy Department $602.2 million, the National Institute of Standards and Technology $73 million, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration $71.7 million, and the Environmental Protection Agency $22.3 million.

The bill would also require NSF to report to Congress on the availability of encryption technologies in foreign countries. The report would also have to include a comparison of those technologies with similar technologies that are subject to export restrictions in the United States.

'Today's House passage marks great investment in the future and a strong commitment to strengthening the scientific enterprise,' said Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), the bill's sponsor. 'By focusing federal IT efforts on basic research, this legislation helps replenish the pipeline of fundamental research breakthroughs.'

Both government and industry officials had recommended that Congress boost the funding government set aside for systems R&D.

The HR 2086 funding levels are based on recommendations from the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee. In its report, Information Technology Research: An Investment in Our Future, the presidential panel laid out a funding plan for federal IT research [GCN, Jan. 10, Page 31].

'U.S. leadership in information technology has depended on our ability to manage a federal research program that draws on the unique strengths of many different agencies,' said Neal Lane, assistant to the president for science and technology, at a recent hearing of the House Science Subcommittee on Basic Research.

The Senate is now considering the bill. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will review and mark up HR 2086 before sending it to the Senate floor for a vote.

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