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February 22, 2000
The Honorable John McCain
Committee on Commerce
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman McCain:
I am writing on behalf of the Computing Research Association to urge you as Chairman of the Committee on Commerce to expedite consideration of the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act (H.R. 2086), which was passed by the House of Representatives on February 15. The NITR&D Act is a sound approach to federal information technology R&D policy: it responds to clear national needs and objectives and sets forth a focused program for meeting them.
The NITR&D Act would reauthorize key multiagency, multidisciplinary research programs High Performance Computing and Communications through FY 2004 and Next Generation Internet through FY 2002 and establish a new NITR&D program at the National Science Foundation emphasizing broad-based, long-term information technology research. With the latter provision, the NITR&D Act would strengthen the appropriate federal role in IT R&D and enable vigorous efforts to make revolutionary advances in computing, networking, and other information technologies. This kind of fundamental IT research, sponsored by the federal government over the past decades, provided the fuel that drives our thriving economy today; the NITR&D Act would ensure that the U.S. continues to be well supplied with new information technologies, and will help in building a capable IT workforce, to meet the challenges of the future.
The new NITR&D program is a direct response to the final report of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), which after thorough examination found that the federal investment in information technology R&D is inadequate and too focused on near-term problems. Moreover, the NITR&D Act assigns priority to research in software; high end computing; network stability, fragility, reliability, security, and scalability; and the social and economic consequences of information technology. These are exactly the areas identified by the PITAC as most deserving of expanded research support given their tremendous potential to stimulate progress throughout society and the economy in health care, for instance, and education, commerce, national security, communications, and many other fields of national importance.
The PITAC issued its report at the behest of the Next Generation Internet Research Act that you sponsored in 1998, which directed PITAC to "assess the extent to which Federal support of fundamental research in computing is sufficient to maintain the Nation's critical leadership in this field and make recommendations relating to its findings." Its findings and recommendations make a compelling case for the NITR&D Act, and both the report and the legislation merit you and your Committee's prompt consideration and support. CRA would be pleased to provide you with any additional information you might need and would further request the opportunity to provide testimony to the Committee should hearings be held on this important matter. Thanks very much for your time and attention.
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