PCAST subcommittee delivers draft report

The Networking and Information Technology Subcommittee of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) delivered a report on the National Coordination Office’s Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) program at the April 24 PCAST meeting in Washington.

NITRD, a collaboration of more than a dozen federal research and development agencies, seeks to assure continued U.S. leadership in IT and is the primary source of federally funded innovative programs in advanced information technologies such as computing, networking, and software.

NITRD was last reviewed in 1999 by members of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC). The new review was conducted by PCAST subcommittee led by Dan Reed, director of the Renaissance Computing Institute, and George Scalise, president of the Semiconductor Industry Association.

Their report, titled Leadership Under Challenge: Information Technology R&D in Competitive World, concludes that while the U.S. continues to hold a dominant leadership position in the IT sector, its leadership is at risk unless steps are taken now to shore up the infrastructure that supports long-term innovation in the U.S.

The PCAST committee, composed of 35 science and technology leaders in industry and academia appointed by the president, approved four general recommendations for NITRD:

  • Revamp networking and information technology education and training. IT curricula must be revised, visa processes for students and R&D workers should be eased and efforts should be made to attract and retain minority and female students if the U.S. is to meet IT employment needs in the future.
  • Rebalance the federal NITRD portfolio. Too many NITRD projects are low risk, small-scale and short term. NITRD and federal agencies must focus more of their efforts on programs that are innovative, long-term and multidisciplinary.
  • Re-prioritize some NITRD topics. Among the priorities the committee recommended for NITRD are networking and IT systems connecting to the physical world, and efforts aimed at developing software.
  • Improve interagency planning and coordination. Agencies should work together on a comprehensive roadmap to the future.

A PDF of the presentation on the NITRD preliminary report is available here.
More on the PCAST meeting is available at http://www.ostp.gov/pcast/Agendas/Apr-07/agendaapr07.pdf