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September 30, 2005

PCAST to Assume PITAC's Role

President Bush ordered today that the President's Council of Advisors for Science and Technology shall now serve as the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), answering the question about what would become of PITAC after the President allowed that committee's charter to expire last June. I'm not sure how the new responsibilities will be handled by PCAST -- presumably the committee will be expanded somewhat to handle the load, but we'll see.

I'm of two minds about the move. On the one hand, the membership of PCAST is top-notch. Having advisors of that stature become interested and invested in some of the issues of great concern to the IT community (like the overall level of federal support and the changing landscape for computing research) would add even more weight to our position. But I'm worried that the committee, which has a much broader charter than PITAC's narrow focus on IT issues, won't be able to examine the issues with the same depth that an independent IT advisory committee may have.

Anyway, we'll keep a close eye on developments and report them here.

Update: (five minutes after I posted above) The National Coordinating Office for IT is calling this an elevation of the role of external information technology advice in the White House. Here's the OSTP press release. (pdf)

The release points out that PCAST is also the National Nanotechnology Advisory Panel and that the committee established a "technical advisory group" comprising of "about 50 top government and private sector nanotechnology scientists" that has proved "highly beneficial" to PCAST's NNI assessments. They plan to do something similar for IT.

As more details are revealed, I'm thinking the positives outweigh the negatives. ...

Posted by PeterHarsha at September 30, 2005 05:22 PM | TrackBack
Posted to Policy