Presidential advisors report on federal Networking and Information Technology R&D Program

WASHINGTON—The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) today delivered its report Leadership Under Challenge: Information Technology R&D in a Competitive World. The report assesses global U.S. competitiveness in networking and information technology and provides recommendations aimed at ensuring that the Federally funded Networking and Information Technology R&D (NITRD) Program is appropriately focused and implemented.

“This report is a broad, high-level assessment of the entire networking and information technology ‘innovation ecosystem.’ It makes specific recommendations for Federal R&D that would enhance U.S. competitiveness in this economically critical area,” said John H. Marburger, Science Advisor to the President and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. “PCAST membership includes highly successful leaders of large R&D enterprises, and their advice will be taken seriously by NITRD Program management .”

Dr. Dan Reed, Director of the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) and PCAST member noted, “PCAST consulted extensively with experts from industry and academia in the course of performing the study. The Council concludes that while the U.S. is still in a leadership position, other nations are challenging that lead in a number of areas. The NITRD Program must focus on visionary research and work with universities to keep the United States at the cutting edge.”

PCAST recommends a broad U.S. effort by both the Federal government and the private sector to address the demand for skilled IT professionals , including such steps as updating curricula, increasing fellowships, and simplifying visa processes. With respect to the Federally funded research portfolio, PCAST recommends the Program emphasize larger-scale and longer- term, multidisciplinary IT R&D and innovative, higher-risk projects. The Council also recommends that priority be given to R&D in economically important areas, including IT systems connected with and embedded in the physical world, software, use and management of digital data, and  advanced Internet capabilities. PCAST notes that with an annual Federal investment of over $3 billion in the NITRD Program, changes in the Program’s interagency process to strengthen assessment and planning are needed.

This report responds to reporting requirements of the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991 (Public Law 102-194) and the Next Generation Internet Research Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-305). The laws call for a President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) to assess periodically what is now known as the NITRD Program. Executive Order 13385, signed on September 29, 2005, assigned the PITAC’s responsibilities to PCAST.