House approves cybersecurity R&D bill

House approves cybersecurity R&D bill

Sherwood Boehlert

The House of Representatives this month overwhelmingly passed the Cyber Security Research and Development Act, which would funnel $878 million over five years into long-term information security research.

By a vote of 400 to 12, the House voted to make money available through the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology for academic and commercial research as well as undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate studies in cybersecurity.

The Bush administration supported HR 3394, which now goes to the Senate. The Office of Management and Budget said it would work with Congress to refine the funding levels to conform to the president's fiscal 2003 budget request.

Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Science Committee, introduced the bill in December. Academic and industry officials told the committee that lack of resources has limited progress in securing hardware and systems over the last 40 years.

What funding is available, they said, focuses on short-term programs that do not attract top talent.

William A. Wulf, president of the National Academy of Engineering, told the committee the Academy's funding requirements are not large. 'If you gave us $100 million today, I don't know that we could spend it.'

Lion's share to NSF

HR 3394 in its present form would give NSF and NIST about $106 million next fiscal year that would grow to $229 million by fiscal 2007, for a total of $878 million. Most of the money, $568 million, would go to NSF. The lion's share of that, $233 million, would go into computer and network security research. About $144 million would be earmarked for research centers, and $95 million for scholarships for advanced study.

NIST would get $310 million over five years, most of it for long-term, multidisciplinary research that does not get private funding.

Industry groups applauded the House action.

Information Technology Association of America president Harris N. Miller said the funding would not only build a larger base of cybersecurity professionals but also would improve information sharing and collaboration.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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