White House asks Hill for more IT research funding

President Clinton's top technology adviser told a House committee today that Congress must beef up funding for federal information technology research and development programs.

Neal Lane suggested to members of the House Science Committee's Basic Research Subcommittee that the Defense Department and the National Institutes of Health should be tagged to receive more IT research funds in the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act, which would authorize $4.8 billion for IT R& D through fiscal 2004. The bill would almost double IT research funding, according to Science Committee Chairman Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr.

The IT R&D bill would devote much of the money to federal grants but also would authorize expenditures that could be used for in-house federal R& D projects.

The bill also covers the Next Generation Internet initiative and high-powered computing programs. IT R& D programs for the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Energy Department, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency fall under the bill.

Lane, however, urged subcommittee members to consider adding DOD and NIH to the mix—because DOD has already proven to be a source of quality IT developments such as the Internet and because NIH needs high-powered supercomputing for complex biomedical research.

Lane also said that the bill should focus more on interagency cooperation in R&D programs and that the bill fails to provide enough support for DOE programs for high-powered computing, or "terascale" computing.

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