White House proposes big hike in IT research funding for 2000

Six federal agencies would share a $366 million boost in funding for information technology research next year under the Clinton administration's proposed fiscal 2000 budget.

The proposed funding, a 28 percent increase over the current IT research budget, would be divided among the Defense Department, the Energy Department, NASA, the National Institutes of Health, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation. The federal government would offer about 60 percent of the money to universities in the form of grants.

The initiative, called Information Technology for the 21st Century (IT2), could lead to breakthroughs in speech-recognition technology, faster computers and more reliable software, among other developments, according to information provided by the White House following a speech on the program yesterday by Vice President Al Gore. He delivered the speech at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Anaheim, Calif. Last year, a presidential advisory committee recommended adding $1 billion to the government's IT research budget over the next five years. The committee said too much federal IT research money serves agencies' mission-specific goals and that new funding should be used to improve the fundamental operations of computers and networks to make them faster, easier to manage and less prone to crashes.

IT2 funding would support such basic research and would help to design and build advanced systems for developing drugs or predicting weather, improve understanding of the social and economic impact of technology and train future IT workers.

Further details about the program were not immediately available.

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