NIST forms new Information Technology Laboratory

The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology assured Congress that the formation of its new Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) will help the agency more tightly focus on the needs of the computer industry and testing methods.

Shukri Wakid, acting director of the ITL, said at a recent hearing before the House Science Committee's Technology Subcommittee that the ITL will "strengthen NIST's ability to provide measurements and related standards for our nation's information technology industries."

Along those same lines, Wakid said, developing standards will no longer be a focus for the agency. For security and software in particular, NIST "is moving from the development of standards for maturing technologies to the development of open, pre-competitive tests and test methods."

The rationale behind this shift, he said, is that "test methods help stimulate the growth and adoption of new technology," which is where NIST programs can "make a difference."

Other focus areas for the ITL include algorithms and analytic tools for mathematics, statistics for data analysis and such federal responsibilities as computer security, specifically cryptography.

The new ITL will be created by merging NIST's Computer Systems Laboratory and the Computing and Applied Mathematics Laboratory. Each of the labs has already been reorganized and is conducting the work that it will be doing once the full reorganization and official name change take place. It is still uncertain when that will occur.

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