Bush names 14 new PCAST members

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. March 1, 2006, to add the date of the next PCAST meeting.

Heavy hitters from the information technology arena will soon join the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), marking the latest reverse in the administration’s prioritization of IT research and development.

The 14 new appointees announced yesterday are:

  • F. Duane Ackerman, chairman, president and chief executive officer of BellSouth.

  • Paul Anderson, chairman and CEO of Duke Energy.

  • Robert Brown, president of Boston University.

  • Nance Dicciani, president and CEO of Honeywell Specialty Materials.

  • Richard Herman, chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • Martin Jischke, president of Purdue University.

  • Fred Kavli, founder and chairman of the Kavli Foundation.

  • Daniel Reed, director of the Renaissance Computing Institute.

  • Hector de Jesus Ruiz, chairman, president and CEO of Advanced Micro Devices.

  • Stratton Sclavos, chairman and CEO of VeriSign.

  • John Brooks Slaughter, president and CEO of The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering.

  • Joseph Tucci, president and CEO of EMC.

  • Robert Witt, president of the University of Alabama.

  • Tadataka Yamada, chairman of research and development for GlaxoSmithKline.

The selections come nearly nine months after President Bush disbanded the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), which advised him on IT R&D. Bush later folded PITAC’s functions into PCAST. PCAST advises the president on technology, scientific research priorities and math and science education.

The reconfigured PCAST met for the first time last month, but the previous PITAC board had not been reinstated, and Bush had not tapped additional IT advisers to fill the empty seats on PCAST.

The delay in choosing new members raised some concern among researchers who warned that federal spending trends indicate the administration's declining interest in IT research. Industry and academia have long worried that U.S. jobs and national competitiveness will suffer if the federal government fails to support IT research that does not directly relate to national defense or homeland security.

Those concerns have abated somewhat since Bush’s last State of the Union address. In the speech, he announced an initiative to stimulate R&D in major scientific areas, including nanotechnology, supercomputing and alternative energy sources. The three-part program, called the American Competitiveness Initiative, focuses on R&D, education, and workforce and immigration policies.

Now, 14 new science and technology experts will join the sitting PCAST, which currently has 24 members. Some of the holdovers carry extensive IT credentials, including Dell founder Michael Dell, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and Microsoft Executive Vice President Robert Herbold.

New PCAST member Dan Reed, who is also vice chancellor of IT and chief information officer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was a member of the last PITAC. He currently serves as chairman of the board of directors for the Computing Research Association.

Today, PCAST and former PITAC members are more confident that the reconstituted advisory group will emphasize IT. Floyd Kvamme, PCAST's co-chairman and a partner at the venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, has said that he intends to complete a careful review of the federal IT R&D program by the end of the year. The expanded PCAST will hold its next meeting March 28.

Ed Lazowska, PITAC co-chairman from 2003 until the committee's end in June 2005, said today, “It's a new day since the president's State of the Union message. The American Competitiveness Initiative gives reason for hope that research and advanced education will receive appropriate prioritization. That creates an opportunity for PCAST to be effective.”

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