IT vital in PCAST agenda

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A group of presidential science and technology advisers on Dec. 12 identified information technology as an essential component of its new agenda.

The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) will make policy recommendations on how the country might combat terrorism, improve the communications infrastructure, invest federal money in science and technology, and improve energy efficiency. The group held its first meeting on Wednesday.

IT plays prominently in the group's agenda. For instance, one panel will look at combating bioterrorism and the associated technology, including IT, that can help in that fight, said John Marburger, co-chairman of PCAST and director of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The panel also will consider how to get the most information out of the enormous databases that the intelligence community has and how to track people that want to remain hidden, he said. "We all understand that the war against terrorism at home and abroad is going to be a technologically intensive war, and we hope to be able to advise the president on policy on that," Marburger said.

Meanwhile, another PCAST panel will look into building the infrastructure for the 21st century, Marburger said. This includes investigating the obstacles to deploying broadband communications across the country.

Floyd Kvamme, co-chairman of PCAST and a partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, said the four focus areas were chosen after discussions with representatives from the administration and Congress. "These were the four things that bubbled to the top," he said.

PCAST will have quarterly meetings that will be open to the public, and the specific panels will meet more frequently.

PCAST was established in 1990 and was renewed by President Bush in October. It is made up of top executives from industry and academia including Erich Bloch, former head of the National Science Foundation; Barbara Kilberg, president of the Northern Virginia Technology Council; and Norman Augustine, former chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin Corp.

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