Cybsecurity research underfunded, executives say

The National Science Foundation can only fund a subset of the research proposals it receives on ways to better IT system security, an NSF official said at a House technology subcommittee hearing.

'There are good ideas in the cybersecurity area that we're simply not able to fund,' Peter Freeman, assistant director of NSF's computer and information science and engineering directorate, said at yesterday's hearing.

The Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census held the hearing to assess the effectiveness of federal IT research and development investments.

David Nelson, director of the White House National Science and Technology Council's national coordination office for information technology research and development, said federal investments have resulted in technologies, such as the Internet and the Web browser, that have boosted the economy and provided agencies with ways to streamline operations.

One area needing greater attention is security.

Freeman said NSF has received more than 150 proposals for a current solicitation in computer security. He said that about a third of the ideas are scientifically promising. The agency, however, has enough money to fund 10 percent of the proposals.

Representatives of the National Institute of Standards and Technology expressed similar concerns.

Hratch Semerjian, NIST's acting director, said computer security could use more emphasis. He said that security plays a major role in almost every new application that the institute develops.

NSF estimates it will spend $734 million in networking and information technology research this year, and has requested $751 million for next year. For 2005, NIST has requested $57.9 million for computer science and applied mathematics plus an additional $6 million for cybersecurity research.

Subcommittee member William Clay (D-Mo.) estimated that the federal government will spend about $2.2 billion in IT-related research and development this year, and the president's proposed budget shrinks that amount to $2 billion for 2005.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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