Collaborating on IT research

House lawmakers sought this week to insure that funding for information technology research in the upcoming fiscal year will be best used by leveraging efforts across agencies, academia and the commercial sector.

At a July 7 hearing of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee, government officials stressed the importance of communicating with researchers at federal agencies and other organizations that get federal money for IT research and development. It's important to identify "an overall strategic plan that provides an opportunity to leverage investments, both internally and externally, and to identify complimentary activities in an effort to avoid duplication," said Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), chairman of the subcommittee.

Of $90 billion allocated by the government to supporting research and development, a little more than $2 billion goes directly into IT projects, although much of the other research also has IT components, including bioresearch funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Multiagency groups such as the National Coordination Office for Information Technology Research and Development play a critical role in ensuring that agencies use funding wisely to pursue coordinated, unified research goals that lead to the development of innovative and reliable technologies, especially in the area of cyber- and network security, said David Nelson, the coordination office's director.

"Agencies participating in [Federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development] work together to identify research needs, plan research programs, and review progress," said Nelson, who cited the high productivity computing systems program as an example. The program seeks to "improve productivity of technical computers that might be available in the mid-term, a need shared by all NITRD agencies."

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