November 17, 2009


ScienceWorksForUS, a joint effort by the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and The Science Coalition (TSC), launched today on Capitol Hill with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in attendance. The interesting and much needed initiative is designed to illustrate how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funding is supporting research across the country and how that research impacts the nation economically, both in the short and long term. The website of the initiative gives researchers a chance to tell their stories and to share their research with a wider public audience.

As we’ve mentioned here before, the ARRA included over $21 billion in science funding, including money to build research facilities, buy equipment, and conduct research. The immediate impact is to continue or increase employment of researchers, equipment manufacturers, and facility construction workers. However, the long-term impact will be more, higher paying jobs in industries that are created from the research or that help solve challenges in energy, healthcare, and other high priority challenges that the US faces in the coming decades.

Posted by MelissaNorr at 02:27 PM
Posted to Economic Stimulus and Recovery | Events | Funding

August 31, 2009

Business Week on Research in Industry

CRA frequently talks about the need for more basic scientific research but we focus almost exclusively on governmental research investment. We talk about the fall of DARPA and the need for NSF to increase to compensate. We don't spend quite as much time talking about industry investment in basic research. An article in Business Week points out the necessity of industry participation in the research ecosystem and the rich history of corporate laboratories' basic research contributions. It's a very interesting article that weaves together the past and present research ecosystems, today's economic concerns, and suggestions for tackling the problems we see today.

The article discusses the two times in US history when the government spurred scientific innovation in a short period of time - the Manhattan Project and the Apollo space mission - and the reasons they were so successful. It states, "Their success can be mapped to five crucial success factors: 1) full and sustained Presidential support; 2) effective leadership with a clearly defined mandate; 3) access to resources; 4) parallel paths/processing to save time; and 5) private sector outsourcing."

It also discusses the best basic research model which it says combines universities' research efforts and "a dynamic public-private network of labs and a venture capital industry waiting downstream to commercialize ideas and turn them into large public companies that create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Here's what's needed to get that model back on track:

  • Clear national goals in two or three key areas, such as carbon-free energy and preventive medicine.
  • Government commitment of $10 billion a year above and beyond spending for national agencies to jump-start new industrial research labs.
  • Government tax credits for corporations that commit to spending 5% to 10% (or more) of R&D on basic research."

The article is a good read with good historical background and ideas for the present.

April 27, 2009

Obama Announces New Commitment to R&D Funding, PCAST Members

The President used a speech before the members of the National Academy of Sciences today to reiterate his commitment to boosting the U.S. investment in science and technology.In his remarks before the opening session of the National Academy's annual meeting, Obama set a goal of seeing the U.S. invest 3 percent or more of its annual GDP in basic and applied scientific research funding. This level of investment would represent the largest investment in American history -- an even larger share of GDP than the U.S. invested during the space race of the 1950s and 60s. Here's a choice quote from AP coverage of the speech:

The pursuit of discovery a half century ago fueled the nation's prosperity and success, Obama told the academy.

"The commitment I am making today will fuel our success for another 50 years," he said. "This work begins with an historic commitment to basic science and applied research."

He set forth a wish list for the future including "learning software as effective as a personal tutor; prosthetics so advanced that you could play the piano again; an expansion of the frontiers of human knowledge about ourselves and world the around us.

"We can do this," Obama said to applause.

According to a White House fact sheet distributed after his remarks today, the President plans to back up his rhetoric with a number of budgetary commitments, including:
  • A commitment to finish the 10-year doubling of 3 key science agencies (National Science Foundation, Department of Energy's Office of Science, and the National Insititutes of Standards and Technology). Between 2009 and 2016, the Administration's enacted and proposed budgets would add $42.6 billion to the 2008 budgets for these basic research agencies, with a special emphasis on encouraging high-risk, high-return research and supporting researchers at the beginning of their careers.
  • The launch of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). ARPA-E is a new Department of Energy organization modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the defense agency that gave us the Internet, stealth aircraft, and many other technological breakthroughs.
  • A joint initiative by the Dept. of Energy and NSF that will inspire tens of thousands of American students to pursue careers in science, engineering, and entrepreneurship related to clean energy programs and scholarships from grade school to graduate school.
  • The President also used the occasion to name the members of his President's Council of Advisors for Science and Technology (PCAST) -- a committee of representatives from science and industry who will examine aspects of federal science policy and make recommendations to the President. For the last several years, PCAST has also assumed the statutory responsibilties of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), which was dissolved as a free-standing committee under President Bush (though there may be a move to reestablish the free-standing committee -- more on that in a future post).

    Among the new PCAST members are at least four from the computing community:

    Other members of the Council are: Rosina Bierbaum, Christine Cassel, Christopher Chyba, James Gates, John Holdren, Shirley Jackson, Eric Lander, Richard Levin, Chad Mirkin, Mario Molina, Ernest Moniz, Maxine Savitz, Barbara Schaal, Daniel Schrag, Harold Varmus and Ahmed Zewail. Holdren, Lander and Varmus will be the co-chairs of PCAST.

    The President's commitment to continuing the very recent robust increases for federal R&D -- after several years of real-dollar declines -- along with recent statements by key Senate appropriations staff who believe 7 percent annual increases for NSF are "sustainable," give us reason to be somewhat optimistic going into the appropriations season this year. However, as always, other pressing concerns and shortfalls in the federal budget can adversly affect science funding despite all the apparent support, so we'll be keeping a close eye on the process. But Obama's initial steps here may turn out to be giant ones for U.S. science and innovation.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 06:16 PM
    Posted to FY10 Appropriations | Funding | Policy | R&D in the Press

    April 06, 2009

    House S&T Committee Focuses on IT at NITRD Hearing

    CRA's incoming Board Chair Peter Lee, Deborah Estrin of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Chris Greer of the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) National Coordinating Office testified before the House Science and Technology Committee last week on the NITRD Act of 2009. The Act incorporates the findings and recommendations of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) for the NITRD program. The hearing was well attended by members of the committee as well with a dozen attending at least part of the hearing.

    All three witnesses praised the legislation for incorporating the PCAST recommendations for NITRD and for addressing a need in the research infrastructure. Lee specifically pointed out how easy it would be for the United States to lose the lead in IT R&D to other countries if it is not a focus, a comment picked up on by Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) during the question and answer portion of the hearing.

    Questions from the Members of Congress ranged from agency participation in NITRD to security to education. Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) asked about the need for intervention in the education system to fill the pipeline of scientists particularly for attracting women and minorities. Estrin spoke to the importance of reaching children in junior high school or earlier and making the connection between computer science and the larger societal problems that it can help fix such as energy and environmental issues and healthcare improvement. Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO) and Congressman Lincoln Davis (D-TN) both brought up the issue of national security, noting that there are daily attacks from other countries on our systems with the intent of uncovering sensitive data and that our networks are vulnerable to hacking. Greer noted that security is always a challenge at the forefront of NITRD. Estrin and Lee both stated that there are numerous research projects underway attempting to increase the security of networks and Estrin emphasized the necessity of having security parameters that are usable by the average person.

    The committee has not yet introduced the Act, though it's expected to shortly after the current congressional recess ends next week. When the bill is dropped, we'll have a complete analysis of it here, so stay tuned. In the meantime, the full written testimony as well as the webcast of the full hearing is available on the Committee's web site.

    Posted by MelissaNorr at 10:59 AM
    Posted to CRA | Events | Funding | People | Policy

    March 31, 2009

    Annual Capitol Hill Science Fair A Great Success

    The Coalition for National Science Funding, of which CRA is an active member, held its annual Science Exhibition on Capitol Hill last week. It was once again a great success with a room full of hundreds of attendees and a number of Congressmen visiting exhibits. For the first time, the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) attended, spoke briefly on the importance of funding basic science research, and received many thanks from the community there for her efforts to see science funded as part of the stimulus bill and the FY 09 Appropriations. Other members of Congress who attended included Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) pictured here. Overall, the event was very successful in spreading the message that federally funded science research makes important contributions and discoveries in all scientific fields.



    Also pictured are Dr. Gregory Abowd of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Dr. Gillian Hayes of the University of California, Irvine who represented CRA with an exhibit on “Behavior Imaging and Autism” that drew a great deal of interest from attendees and the other participants. The exhibit showcased research on using sensors in toys and video imaging to monitor the developmental progress of children with autism and other developmental disorders.

    The event, a science fair for Congress and staff, had 35 booths manned by researchers representing universities and scientific societies featuring some of the important research funded by the National Science Foundation.

    Posted by MelissaNorr at 03:25 PM
    Posted to CRA | Events | FY09 Appropriations | Funding | Policy

    March 05, 2009

    FY 09 Omnibus Details: Further Increases for Science

    The House has passed and the Senate is now considering omnibus legislation that would enact the unfinished FY 2009 appropriations bills Congress ought to have passed last September (but elected to punt). Included in the omnibus are appropriations for a number of key science agencies -- appropriations that contain some significant increases for those agencies compared to their FY 2008 levels and that might signal Congress is finally getting serious about appropriating the increases for science authorized by the America COMPETES Act way back in August 2007.

    Here's the breakout for some science agencies of particular note to the computing community. In each case, these funding levels represent an increase to the baseline funding for the agency (ie, this funding, if passed, will likely represent the starting point in the FY 10 appropriations process). The Stimulus funding passed last month represents funding above and beyond this FY 09 appropriation:

    National Science Foundation: NSF would receive a $363 million increase over FY 08, or 5.9 percent, increasing to $6.49 billion overall. Included in that increase is $339 million in additional funding for the Research and Related Activities account, an increase of 7.0 percent over the FY 08 level of $4.84 billion. Language in the report accompanying the bill directs NSF to "provide a for a balanced program across all science disciplines" as the agency decides how to allocated funding across the research directorates. Additionally, the agency is urged to "further to invest in cost-effective and innovative solutions, such as grid-computing, to address the Nation's cyber infrastructure needs."

    The Foundation's Education and Human Resources Directorate would also see an increase, growing $120 million over FY 2008, or 16.5 percent. The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account, however, would see a decrease of about $69 million (or 31.1 percent) compared to FY 08. However, MREFC fared well in the stimulus bill -- it received an additional $400 million -- so it's not immediately clear to us how this decrease in funding will impact current and future projects funded out of MREFC.

    Department of Energy's Office of Science: DOE's Office of Science would do extremely well under the FY 09 omnibus appropriation, growing 18.8 percent, or $755 million to $4.77 billion, versus FY 08. Included in the increase is $369 million for Advanced Scientific Computing Research, an increase of $18 million or 5.0 percent over FY 08.

    National Institute of Standards and Technology: NIST's budget would increase 8.4 percent, or $63.2 million to $819 million in FY 09. NIST's Scientific and Technical Research and Services account -- basically, NIST's core research funding -- would grow by $31.5 million (or 7.1 percent) to $472 million. NIST's research facilities construction account would grow by 7.2 percent, or $11.5 million, to $172 million. Two somewhat controversial programs, the Technology Innovation Program (formerly the Advanced Technology Program) and the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships -- both basically zeroed by the Bush Administration budget for FY 09 -- both would receive funding in FY 09. MEP would grow $20.4 million to $110 million in FY 09. TIP would decline slightly (about $200,000) to $65 million.

    National Institutes of Health: NIH would receive an increase of $938 million over FY 08 in the omnibus, bringing the agency's top-line funding level to $30.3 billion in FY 09.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration: NASA Science funding is one of the few science funding accounts that would see a decrease in funding versus FY 08. While the overall NASA budget would increase $381 million, or 2.2 percent, over FY 08, the Science account would decrease $203 million, or 4.3 percent, to $4.7 billion in FY 09.

    Not included in the omnibus is funding for research at the Department of Defense, but that's because the FY09 Defense Approps (along with the Military Construction and Homeland Security bills) were passed under regular order last year. Included in that bill was an increase of 27.4 percent, or about $1.6 billion, in basic and applied research at Defense research agencies -- including an 8.0 percent bump (or $136 million increase) for basic research.

    The House has already passed the omnibus and the bill is being considered in the Senate right now, with the hope of passage either later this evening or tomorrow. Failing to pass the bill by March 6th would mean Congress would have to quickly act to pass another Continuing Resolution -- a temporary stop-gap funding measure -- to keep most federal agencies open. As this is written, it appears that the Democratic leadership in the Senate has enough votes to pass the bill as is, but we'll update here if that changes.

    February 10, 2009

    Action Alert!: Stimulus Headed to Conference!



    Now that the Senate has narrowly passed its version of the economic stimulus, the bill will head to conference with the House to work out some of the significant differences between the two versions -- including significant differences in how the science investments in the bill are handled. The conference represents our last chance to influence the level of science funding contained in the stimulus. We are asking for your help urging your representatives in Congress to support the levels of funding for science contained in the House version of the bill. Please call or fax your representatives today to express your support for research and research infrastructure funding in the bill.


    Both the Senate and the House have now passed their own versions of the "American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act" (H.R. 1), but each version contains substantially different levels of funding for key science agencies.The version passed by the House contains significantly more funding for research and research infrastructure than the Senate-passed version. It provides "catch-up" funding for NSF, DOE Office of Science, NIH, and NIST that would put those agencies back on a trajectory that would double their budgets over the next 7 years -- a budget trajectory that was authorized by the 2007 "America COMPETES Act" but never funded. The House version of this stimulus bill includes:

    • $2 billion in science funding at DOE's Office of Science, including $100 million for Advanced Scientific Computing Research;
    • $3 billion for NSF, of which $2.0 billion would go into core research programs, $300 million to the Major Research Instrumentation program and an additional $200 million to academic research facilities modernization;
    • $100 million for NIST's core research programs, $300 million for facilities, and another $70 million for the Technology Innovation Program and $30 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership;
    • $1.5 billion to NIH for grants to improve university research facilities and another $1.5 billion in new research funding.
    In contrast, the Senate version provides no funding for DOE's Office of Science and just $330 million for DOE Labs (and no additional funding for Advanced Scientific Computing Research); $1.0 billion less than the House for NSF core research, $250 million less for Major Research Equipment and Construction, and $50 million less for Education and Human Resources; and $25 million less for NIST.


    The most important thing you can do now is call or fax your representatives in the House and Senate and urge them to support the House funding levels for science in the conference. A sample letter you can use can be found here (rtf).

    Please complete it using your own information and FAX it to your Representative and Senators offices as soon as possible. Please also fax a copy of your letter to CRA'S Melissa Norr at 202.667.1066 -- having copies of letters from our community is incredibly helpful in our advocacy activities on the Hill.

    To identify your Representative and Senators visit Write Your Rep and the Senate Directory.

    If you have any trouble figuring out your Members of Congress or their contact information, please don't hesitate to contact Melissa ( for help.


    Now is not the time for contacting the agencies involved with proposals for spending these potential increases. If and when these increases are realized, the agencies will put in place processes to accept proposals for funding -- and CRA will keep you informed. But, until then, the agencies are sharply limited in the advice and help they can provide. Please instead focus your efforts on ensuring that your representatives in Congress have heard from you on the importance of supporting research and research infrastructure!

    February 06, 2009

    Microsoft's Ballmer Tells House Dems We Need STEM Ed, Research Investments

    Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spoke today at the House Democratic Caucus Retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia, and urged the Members present to support investments in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and increase federal support for basic research. The STEM ed investments are really the government's investments in human capital, he said, which are necessary because in "today's knowledge-driven world, innovation will depend on people who are actually technologically sophisticated, have strong critical thinking skills, and have expertise in math and science and engineering."

    He also called for greater investment in the nation's science and technology infrastructure -- in the basic research that powers innovation.

    I came in, flew in red eye, was a little groggy this morning when I got here.  I sat down with the speaker at 8:00 AM, and she woke me right up.  She said there are four things I want you to make sure you understand are a priority: science, science, science, and science.  I was awake by the end of the fourth science for sure, and I couldn't agree more wholeheartedly.

    Science and technology is the backbone for productivity and innovation; has been, not always information technology, but science and technology has been a driver of economic success.  Government investment in science and engineering as a percentage of GDP is half, in this country, what it was in 1970, and it would be growing rapidly, particularly in countries in Asia, off a small base albeit, but in places like India and China and Korea the trend is the other direction.

    We need to pursue breakthroughs over the coming years in green technology, alternative energy, bioengineering, parallel computing, quantum computing.  Without greater government investment in the basic research, there is a danger that important advances will happen in other countries.  This is truly I think not only an issue of competitiveness, but also in a sense of national security.  Companies like ours and others can do our fair share in terms of funding of basic research, but government needs to take the lead.

    The whole speech is worth reading. It's great. I only wish that it could have been heard by members of the Senate who are still debating whether science funding -- including a $1.4 billion increase for NSF -- ought to be included in the Senate version of the stimulus package.

    Basic research is the most powerful engine for innovation in the U.S. economy. Allowing it fall out of a stimulus bill designed to jumpstart our short and long-term economic recovery is just shortsightedness of the worst kind.

    Update: (2/7/09) -- Maybe the Senate was listening.

    February 02, 2009

    Action Alert!: Urge Your Representatives to Support Science in the Stimulus!

    Today we're asking members of our Computing Research Advocacy Network (CRAN) -- and anyone else with an interest in seeing fundamental research and research infrastructure budgets reflect their critical importance to the long-term health of U.S. economy and quality of life -- to contact their representatives in Congress and urge their support for science funding in the nearly $900 billion stimulus bill now making its way through Congress. Here's the full text of the Action Alert we've sent our CRAN members:



    Congress is preparing to pass economic stimulus legislation that contains significant funding increases for scientific research (including computing) and research infrastructure. It is critical to urge your Members of Congress to support the scientific investments in the bill. (This is not the time to contact the agencies with proposals for spending these increases. There is no additional money right now. And there won't be if we as a community fail to make our voices heard in Congress.)


    The American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by the House of Representatives last week provides "catch-up" funding for NSF, DOE Office of Science, NIH, and NIST that would put those agencies back on a trajectory that would double their budgets over the next 7 years -- a budget trajectory that was authorized by the 2007 "America COMPETES Act" but never funded. The House version of this stimulus bill includes:

    • $2 billion in science funding at DOE's Office of Science, including $100 million for the Advanced Scientific Computing;
    • $3 billion for NSF, of which $2.0 billion would go into core research programs, $300 million to the Major Research Instrumentation program and an additional $200 million to academic research facilities modernization;
    • $100 million for NIST's core research programs, $300 million for facilities, and another $70 million for the Technology Innovation Program and $30 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership;
    • $1.5 billion to NIH for grants to improve university research facilities and another $1.5 billion in new research funding.
    These numbers are incredibly good for the research community and we need your help to make sure that this funding makes it through the rest of the process. The Senate version of the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act does NOT include all of this funding so your assistance in contacting Capitol Hill will be critical to maintaining this level of funding in the conference process.


    The most important thing you can do now is call or write your representatives in the House and Senate and urge them to support the House funding levels for science. A sample letter you can use can be found here (rich text file) -- please complete it using your own information and FAX it to your Representative and Senators' offices as soon as possible. Please also fax a copy of your letter to CRA'S Melissa Norr at 202.667.1066 -- having copies of letters from our community is incredibly helpful in our advocacy activities on the Hill.

    To identify your Representative and Senators visit Write Your Rep (House) and the Senate Directory

    If you have any trouble figuring out your Members of Congress or their contact information, please don't hesitate to contact Melissa ( for help.


    Now is not the time for contacting the agencies involved with proposals for spending these potential increases. If and when these increases are realized, the agencies will put in place processes to accept proposals for funding -- and CRA will keep you informed. But, until then, the agencies are sharply limited in the advice and help they can provide. Please instead focus your efforts on ensuring that your representatives in Congress have heard from you on the importance of supporting research and research infrastructure!

    It is important that we generate letters from as many institutions as possible. Because the Senate has come out with sharply reduced numbers in their version of the bill, there will be temptation in the conference process to reduce or trade away big science increases for gains elsewhere in the bill. Significant participation rates in this effort will help keep the pressure on Members to continue to support science in the bill.

    If you're not currently a member of the Computing Research Advocacy Network, joining is easy!

    We'll have more updates as the process moves forward. But the community needs your support now!

    Update: (2/7/09) -- Thanks to all who have participated so far -- here are the details on the final Senate bill.

    December 16, 2008

    Pelosi, Holt Reiterate Support for Science

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) spoke of their intent to increase federal support for science at Princeton University yesterday as part of the university’s “Innovation Agenda” roundtable. Both Pelosi and Holt have been vocal in their support of basic science research in the past but under the Bush Administration have struggled to translate that support into appropriations levels that match the America COMPETES authorization levels. It’s a potential problem moving forward as well as Pelosi stated:

    "I have said over and over again, if you want to know the agenda for this new Congress, remember four words: science, science, science and science," Pelosi said. However, referring obliquely to current crises, she warned there would be competition for resources in the coming months and that supporters of science must become active advocates for science research funding.

    Holt, a physicist and former Princeton staff member, pointed out the economic importance of research, stating:

    "We should make a commitment as a nation to research and development," said Holt, a physicist and former assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. "Science and scientific research," he continued, "are not luxuries to be engaged in in plush times, but rather they are the basis for economic growth, economic prosperity and quality of life."

    Princeton has a press release with more details on the event here.

    November 07, 2008

    Science Magazine Editorial by Wen Jibao

    Science Magazine recently published an editorial by Wen Jibao, (sub. req’d.) Premier of China’s State Council on China’s science and technology initiatives. We’ve been saying here for years that China is very serious about becoming a world leader in science and technology. The editorial states “China is now engaged in a modernization drive unprecedented in the history of humankind.” Other important highlights include:

    The future of China’s science and technology depends fundamentally on how we attract, train, and use young scientific talents today. Thus, at the core of our science and technology policy is attracting a diverse range of talents, especially young people, into science and providing them with an environment that brings out the best of their creative ideas.

    I firmly believe that science is the ultimate revolution. At a time when the current global financial turmoil is dealing a heavy blow to the world economy, it has become all the more important to rely on scientific and technological progress to promote growth in the real economy. Economic and social development must rely on science and technology, and science and technology must serve economic and social development. We will rely on science and technology to promote economic restructuring, transform development patterns, safeguard food and energy security, and address global climate change. We are confident that China will reap a rich harvest in science and technology and that this will have positive and far-reaching effects on human civilization and the well-being of humankind.

    This is a good editorial to read to understand China’s commitment to science and technology and its willingness to follow through on its rhetoric even at a financially difficult time.

    October 23, 2008

    Computerworld Articles on US Innovation, Technology, and the Next President

    Computerworld has published a great couple of articles this week regarding the next Administration, technology, and US innovation. They feature a number of folks well-known in the CS community and are definitely worth checking out.

    US Innovation: On the Skids

    Dear Mr. President: Let’s Talk Tech

    October 14, 2008

    ITIF Breakfast with Dr. Erica Fuchs

    As we’ve discussed here before, DARPA has shifted its research strategy from high risk, high reward to “bridging the gap” under Director Tony Tether’s leadership since 2001. This week the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) held a breakfast with Dr. Erica Fuchs of Carnegie Mellon University who discussed research she had done regarding DARPA’s research agenda.

    Dr. Fuchs began by talking about her original research in optoelectronics and how she started looking into DARPA as a technology innovator. She went through the history of DARPA and talked about the basic model of DARPA – brainstorm a new idea/direction, gain momentum around the idea, build a community, validate the idea with funding from other agencies or industry, and then let others take over the technology as DARPA was not meant to sustain technologies. Dr. Fuchs discussed the change under Tether to 12-18 month reviews with go/no go decisions and that universities are often shut out of the research or must partner with industry to get involved. Dr. Fuchs ended with the shift from “Old DARPA” with high risk, high reward, open ended research mostly at universities to the “New DARPA” characterized by "Bridging the Gap" and coordinating the commercialization of research and asked who is/will fund the earliest basic research at universities going forward?

    Unfortunately, Dr. Fuchs’ slides are not posted online at this time. If they become available, we will add a link to the post.

    September 30, 2008

    DARPA's Tether Continues to Lose His Fight with Congress

    From the explanatory statement for the Continuing Resolution that will fund government agencies until March 6, 2009:

    Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

    The fiscal year 2009 budget request for DARPA is $3,285,569,000, an increase of $326,493,000, more than 10 percent, over the fiscal year 2008 appropriated program of $2,959,076,000. In recent years, DARPA has repeatedly underexecuted its funded program level, executing a fiscal year 2005 program that was nine percent below the appropriated program and a fiscal year 2006 program that was twelve percent below the appropriated program. Based on program execution to date, DARPA will likely continue that trend for the fiscal year 2007 and 2008 programs. While DARPA's continued underexecution can partially be explained by its fiscally responsible management approach of withholding funds from projects that fail to demonstrate progress, doubts exist about DARPA's ability to responsibly manage such a large increase. Therefore, the bill provides $3,142,229,000, a reduction of $143,340,000 from the request. The Director of DARPA is directed to provide to the congressional defense committees not later than 60 days after enactment of this Act a report that details by program element and project the application of undistributed reductions made in this Act....

    Wired's Noah Shactman, writing for the Danger Room blog, has more.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 11:34 AM
    Posted to FY09 Appropriations | Funding | Policy | R&D in the Press

    September 17, 2008

    Basic Energy Research Press Event

    The Task Force on the Future of American Innovation and the Science Coalition held a press conference this morning on “Fueling America’s Future”--the importance of federal funding for basic energy research. While both groups support a broad basic research agenda, this event emphasized the need for basic research in energy to solve America’s energy crisis. The event, held at the National Press Club, took place before a standing room only crowd. The four speakers were:

    The speakers all called for an increase in funding for basic energy research and for the next President to take bold action to keep the US competitive in new technologies and discoveries in alternative energy sources. Each of the distinguished speakers brought their own take to the issue, but all spoke to the common goal of energy independence and reducing fossil fuel consumption while helping the environment.

    Also featured at the event was a petition signed by over 70 organizations (including CRA) to the two Presidential candidates to focus on basic energy research in the White House to ensure America’s long-term security.

    A recording of the event will be available on either the Task Force or Science Coalition website soon. We'll have the link here when it appears.

    Update: Watch the full press event here.

    September 16, 2008

    McCain Answers Science Debate 2008

    Now that Senator John McCain has supplied his answers to the Science Debate 2008 questions, we can take a look at the similarities and differences between the two candidates on a topic that could determine the United States' competitive and economic future in the next administration. We highlighted some of Senator Obama's answers here earlier and all of the answers from both candidates can be found here. Previously in this space we have contrasted the technological agendas from each campaigns' web site.

    McCain specifically calls out information technology research and computer science as important in a few of his answers. McCain says that he wants to invest in basic and applied research particularly in new and emerging areas and in information technology and will "support significant increases in basic research" at the various federal agencies -- but stopped short of saying he would fully fund the America COMPETES Act, in sharp contrast to Obama who has promised the doubling called for in that legislation. McCain also supports greater education efforts in science and math to fill the skilled jobs that are needed in an innovation economy. He particularly supports giving $250 million to states to increase participation in AP courses in math, sciences, and computer science by offering them virtually as well as supporting the STEM education programs at the various federal science agencies like DOE and NSF, a markedly different stance than the current administration.

    Here are excerpts from McCain's answers to the questions that are most relevant to the computing community:

    Q1. Innovation. Science and technology have been responsible for half of the growth of the American economy since WWII. But several recent reports question America's continued leadership in these vital areas. What policies will you support to ensure that America remains the world leader in innovation?

    "...America has led the world into this technology revolution because we have enabled innovation to take root, grow, and prosper. Nurturing technology and innovation is essential for solving the critical problems facing our country..."

    "As President, I will ---

    • Focus on addressing national needs to make the United States a leader in developing, deploying, and exporting new technologies;

    • Utilize the nation's science and technology infrastructure to develop a framework for economic growth both domestically and globally;

    • Appoint a Science and Technology Advisor within the White House to ensure that the role of science and technology in policies is fully recognized and leveraged, that policies will be based upon sound science, and that the scientific integrity of federal research is restored;

    • Eliminate wasteful earmarks in order to allocate funds for science and technology investments;

    • Fund basic and applied research in new and emerging fields such as nanotechnology and biotechnology, and in greater breakthroughs in information technology;


    • Encourage and facilitate commercialization of new innovations, especially those created from federally funded research;

    • Grow public understanding and popularity of mathematics and science by reforming mathematics and science education in schools;

    • Develop and implement a global competitive agenda through a series of business roundtables with industry and academia leaders."

    Q4. Education. A comparison of 15-year-olds in 30 wealthy nations found that average science scores among U.S. students ranked 17th, while average U.S. math scores ranked 24th. What role do you think the federal government should play in preparing K-12 students for the science and technology driven 21st Century?

    "My Administration will promote economic policies that will spur economic growth and a focus on an innovative economy. Critical to these efforts is the creation of the best trained, best prepared workforce to drive this economy through the 21st century. America's ability to compete in the global market is dependent on the availability of a skilled workforce. Less than 20 percent of our undergraduate students obtaining degrees in math or science, and the number of computer science majors have fallen by half over the last eight years. America must address these trends in education and training if it hopes to compete successfully.

    But I believe that education is an ongoing process. Thus our nation's education system should not only focus on graduating new students; we must also help re-train displaced workers as they prepare for the rapidly evolving economy. Invigorating our community college system is a good place to start. For example, recognizing this, I have long supported grants for educational instruction in digital and wireless technologies, targeted to minorities and low-income students who may not otherwise be exposed to these fields.

    Beyond the basics of enabling every student to reach their potential, our country is faced with a critical shortage of students with specific skills fundamental to our ability to compete globally.

    The diminishing number of science, technology, engineering and math graduates at the college level poses a fundamental and immediate threat to American competitiveness.

    We must fill the pipeline to our colleges and universities with students prepared for the rigors of advanced engineering, math, science and technology degrees.

    We must move aggressively to provide opportunities from elementary school on, for students to explore the sciences through laboratory experimentation, science fairs and competitions.

    We must bring private corporations more directly into the process, leveraging their creativity, and experience to identify and maximize the potential of students who are interested and have the unique potential to excel in math and science.

    We must strengthen skills of existing science and math teachers through training and education, through professional development programs and community colleges. I believe we must provide funding for needed professional teacher development. Where federal funds are involved, teacher development money should be used to enhance the ability of teachers to perform in today's technology driven environment. We need to provide teachers with high quality professional development opportunities with a primary focus on instructional strategies that address the academic needs of their students. The first 35 percent of Title II funding would be directed to the school level so principals and teachers could focus these resources on the specific needs of their schools.

    I will devote 60 percent of Title II funding for incentive bonuses for high performing teachers to locate in the most challenging educational settings, for teachers to teach subjects like math and science, and for teachers who demonstrate student improvement. Payments will be made directly to teachers. Funds should also be devoted to provide performance bonuses to teachers who raise student achievement and enhance the school-wide learning environment. Principals may also consider other issues in addition to test scores such as peer evaluations, student subgroup improvements, or being removed from the state's "in need of improvement" list.

    I will allocate $250 million through a competitive grant program to support states that commit to expanding online education opportunities. States can use these funds to build virtual math and science academies to help expand the availability of AP Math, Science, and Computer Sciences courses, online tutoring support for students in traditional schools, and foreign language courses.

    I will also continue to support STEM education programs at NSF, DOE, NASA, and NOAA. These scientific agencies can and should play a key role in the education of its future engineers and scientists. These agencies have the opportunity to add a practical component to the theoretical aspects of the students' educational process."

    Q13. Research. For many years, Congress has recognized the importance of science and engineering research to realizing our national goals. Given that the next Congress will likely face spending constraints, what priority would you give to investment in basic research in upcoming budgets?

    "With spending constraints, it will be more important than ever to ensure we are maximizing our investments in basic research and minimizing the bureaucratic requirements that eat away at the money designed for funding scientists and science. Basic research serves as the foundation for many new discoveries and represents a critical investment for the future of the country and the innovations that drive our economy and protect our people. I have supported significant increases in basic research at the National Science Foundation. I also called for a plan developed by our top scientists on how the funding should be utilized. We must ensure that our research is addressing our national needs and taking advantage of new areas of opportunities and that the results of this research can enter the marketplace. We must also ensure that basic research money is allocated to the best science based on quality and peer review, not politics and earmarks.

    I am committed to reinvigorating America's commitment to basic research, and will ensure my administration funds research activities accordingly. I have supported increased funding at DOE, NSF, and NIH for years and will continue to do so. I will continue my commitment to ensure that the funding is properly managed and that the nation's research needs are adequately addressed."

    September 05, 2008

    Obama Answers Science Debate 2008

    Senator Barack Obama responded to fourteen science questions asked by Science Debate 2008 regarding how an Obama White House would lead the US in areas vital to our competitiveness and innovation. All fourteen questions and Obama's answers in their entirety can be found here. Some highlights of most importance to the computing community include:

    Q 1. Innovation. Science and technology have been responsible for half of the growth of the American economy since WWII. But several recent reports question America's continued leadership in these vital areas. What policies will you support to ensure that America remains the world leader in innovation?

    Ensuring that the U.S. continues to lead the world in science and technology will be a central priority for my administration. Our talent for innovation is still the envy of the world, but we face unprecedented challenges that demand new approaches. For example, the U.S. annually imports $53 billion more in advanced technology products than we export. China is now the world's number one high technology exporter. This competitive situation may only worsen over time because the number of U.S. students pursuing technical careers is declining. The U.S. ranks 17th among developed nations in the proportion of college students receiving degrees in science or engineering; we were in third place thirty years ago.

    My administration will increase funding for basic research in physical and life sciences, mathematics, and engineering at a rate that would double basic research budgets over the next decade. We will increase research grants for early-career researchers to keep young scientists entering these fields. We will increase support for high-risk, high-payoff research portfolios at our science agencies. And we will invest in the breakthrough research we need to meet our energy challenges and to transform our defense programs.

    A vigorous research and development program depends on encouraging talented people to enter science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and giving them the support they need to reach their potential. My administration will work to guarantee to students access to strong science curriculum at all grade levels so they graduate knowing how science works - using hands-on, IT-enhanced education. As president, I will launch a Service Scholarship program that pays undergraduate or graduate teaching education costs for those who commit to teaching in a high-need school, and I will prioritize math and science teachers. Additionally, my proposal to create Teacher Residency Academies will also add 30,000 new teachers to high-need schools - training thousands of science and math teachers. I will also expand access to higher education, work to draw more of these students into science and engineering, and increase National Science Foundation (NSF) graduate fellowships. My proposals for providing broadband Internet connections for all Americans across the country will help ensure that more students are able to
    bolster their STEM achievement.

    Progress in science and technology must be backed with programs ensuring that U.S. businesses have strong incentives to convert advances quickly into new business opportunities and jobs. To do this, my administration will make the R&D tax credit permanent.

    Q 13. Research. For many years, Congress has recognized the importance of science and engineering research to realizing our national goals. Given that the next Congress will likely face spending constraints, what priority would you give to investment in basic research in upcoming budgets?

    Federally supported basic research, aimed at understanding many features of nature- from the size of the universe to subatomic particles, from the chemical reactions that support a living cell to interactions that sustain ecosystems-has been an essential feature of American life for over fifty years. While the outcomes of specific projects are never predictable, basic research has been a reliable source of new knowledge that has fueled important developments in fields ranging from telecommunications to medicine, yielding remarkable rates of economic return and ensuring American leadership in industry, military power, and higher education. I believe that continued investment in fundamental research is essential for ensuring healthier lives, better sources of energy, superior military capacity, and high-wage jobs for our nation's future.

    Yet, today, we are clearly under-investing in research across the spectrum of scientific and engineering disciplines. Federal support for the physical sciences and engineering has been declining as a fraction of GDP for decades, and, after a period of growth of the life sciences, the NIH budget has been steadily losing buying power for the past six years. As a result, our science agencies are often able to support no more than one in ten proposals that they receive, arresting the careers of our young scientists and blocking our ability to pursue many remarkable recent advances. Furthermore, in this environment, scientists are less likely to pursue the risky research that may lead to the most important breakthroughs. Finally, we are reducing support for science at a time when many other nations are increasing it, a situation that already threatens our leadership in many critical areas of science.

    This situation is unacceptable. As president, I will increase funding for basic research in physical and life sciences, mathematics, and engineering at a rate that would double basic research budgets over the next decade.

    Sustained and predictable increases in research funding will allow the United States to accomplish a great deal. First, we can expand the frontiers of human knowledge. Second, we can provide greater support for high-risk, high-return research and for young scientists at the beginning of their careers. Third, we can harness science and technology to address the "grand challenges" of the 21st century: energy, health, food and water, national security, information technology, and manufacturing capacity.

    The other twelve questions and answers are worth taking a look at as well.

    August 26, 2008

    NSF Study Confirms that Federal R&D and CS Funding Decreased for Second Straight Year

    The Chronicle of Higher Ed yesterday covered the release of a National Science Foundation Info Brief on the decline of U.S. funding for academic research for the second straight year, noting that NSF declares the decline "unprecedented for this data series, which began in 1972."

    Though federal funding for academic research technically increased from FY 2006 to FY 2007 by 1.1 percent to $30.4 billion in constant dollars, once adjusted for inflation the "increase" actually represents at 1.6 percent decline. This follows a 0.2 percent adjusted decrease between FY 2006 and FY 2005. And, though NSF isn't reporting it yet, we already know (barring a surprising 2nd second emergency supplemental appropriations) that FY 2008 will continue that negative trend.

    The Chronicle piece notes that industry's support for academic research has ramped up and actually covered most of the federal decline overall. But that was not the case in Computer Science, which still saw a decrease of 1.4 percent in academic funding from all sources. It remains to be seen how some recent highly-publicized university-industry partnerships in computing will affect FY 08 and beyond, but at this point, every little (and big) bit helps.

    As the Chronicle piece also points out, it's also too soon to know how the next President might handle the situation. What we do know is that the FY 2009 appropriations bills that Congress ought to be moving in advance of the Oct 1, 2008 beginning of the fiscal year are hopelessly mired in budget politics that won't likely get resolved until post November at the very earliest (and more likely next February or later). That's more bad news for science, which was again slated for big increases in those FY 09 bills. We'll keep an eye on all developments here and keep you posted.

    August 15, 2008

    A Look at the Presidential Candidates Technology Agendas

    Senator John McCain released his technology agenda this week. He supports some of the ideas that have high importance to the S&T community. McCain’s plan includes:

    • Making the R&D tax credit permanent
    • Lowering the corporate tax rate to 25%
    • Allowing companies to write off of new equipment and technology in the first year
    • Keeping the Internet tax-free
    • Limiting taxes on wireless services
    • Fully funding the America COMPETES Act
    • Expanding H1B visas
    • A crack down on piracy
    • Increased funding for Patent Office
    • Protecting intellectual property around the world
    • Increasing broadband to underserved areas
    • Increasing S&T expertise and use in government

    Of course, a big focus of the computing research advocacy community has been seeing the funding commitments approved as part of the COMPETES act, which include doubling the budgets of three key federal science agencies -- NSF, NIST, and DOE Science -- over the next seven years fully realized. And it appears that McCain supports that goal. However, his senior policy staff has sent mixed messages. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a senior policy advisor to McCain told NPR that "Doubling is a nice fun number for political purposes. It's clean, it's smooth. But it doesn't reflect a balancing of political priorities. There will be competing demands for funds."

    Senator Barack Obama has had a technology agenda on his campaign web site for awhile but now that McCain has come out with his the comparisons can begin. There are several areas of agreement between the two such as making the R&D tax credit permanent, increasing broadband to underserved areas, and increasing the protection of intellectual property around the world. Obama, however, supports Net neutrality (though he doesn’t use that term) and flatly states he would double the funding for basic science research. Obama’s plan also calls for allowing foreign students who earn degrees at US higher education institutions to stay in the country and earn citizenship and emphasizes the need to increase the number of American students, particularly women and minorities, who obtain undergraduate degrees in STEM fields. Also, in addition to increasing the intellectual property protections around the world, Obama calls for reforming the patent system.

    While most of this sounds great, there is very little in either plan about how to accomplish these goals. However, knowing that science and technology issues are being discussed at the highest levels of campaign politics means the messages the community are sending are getting through.

    August 01, 2008

    House S&T Committee Reviews Federal IT R&D Program

    As mentioned in this space on Wednesday, the House Science and Technology Committee held a hearing Thursday morning to review the federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program (NITRD -- alternately pronounced "NIGHT-erd" or "NIGHTER-dee"), the 13 agency, $3.3 billion budget activity that represents the federal government's investment in IT research and development. The hearing mainly focused on the recommendations issued last year by the President's Council of Advisors for Science and Technology (PCAST) in their review of the federal IT R&D ecosystem, Leadership Under Challenge: Information Technology R&D in a Competitive World (pdf) (which we've also covered here). The hearing represents the first step in a process that will result in legislation next year that will attempt to once again amend the High Performance Computing Act of 1991 (most recently amended as part of the America COMPETES Act, passed in Aug 2007) to codify some of those recommendations.

    (You can watch an archived webcast of the hearing and see copies of each witnesses' written testimony at the House S&T Committee website.)

    Testifying before the members were Chris Greer, Director of the NITRD National Coordination Office; Dan Reed, CRA Board Chair; Craig Stewart, Associate Dean of Research Technologies at Indiana University and representing the Coalition for Academic Scientific Computation (CASC); and Don C. Winter, VP of Engineering and IT at Boeing's Phantom Works. Greer was there to talk about what the NITRD NCO is doing and intends to do about acting on the recommendations of the PCAST report; Reed was there as both someone who was deeply involved in writing the PCAST recommendations and who also has a strong connection to the computing research community; Stewart was there to speak for the academic HPC users and researchers; and Winter was there to bring a corporate/private sector perspective to the panel. All filled their assigned roles well.

    Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) opened the hearing by noting his favorable impression of the NITRD program. From his opening remarks:

    I believe the NITRD program has been largely a success. It has made a substantial contribution to moving computation to an equal place along side theory and experiment for conducting research in science and engineering.

    In addition, it has developed the computing and networking infrastructure needed to support leading edge research and to drive the technology forward for a range of commercial applications that benefit society broadly.

    The technical advances that led to today’s computing devices and networks, and the software that drive them, evolved from past research sponsored by industry and government, often in partnership, and conducted by industry, universities, and federal labs.

    Greer used his opening remarks to detail the efforts NITRD NCO has already undertaken in response to the PCAST recommendations (though he indicated that they would probably have embarked on the process even without a recommendation), including a strategic planning process that will produce a plan for NITRD for release in 2009. Greer also didn't take issue with any of the PCAST recommendations -- in fact, no witness (or Member of Congress) took issue with the recommendations in general -- and largely agreed that the program needs to improve it's interagency planning.

    Reed emphasized a few concerns about the overall IT R&D ecosystem in his remarks, noting in particular his concern that the federal portfolio for IT R&D has lost a key piece of what made it such a success with the withdrawal of DARPA support for much university computer science research. Historically, the diversity of funding approaches and mission needs at both DARPA and NSF drove some truly innovative research in computing. With DARPA's absence, university computing research has become a "monoculture" of research supported by a single agency: NSF. Indeed, NSF now supports 86 percent of federal obligations for computer science research in U.S. universities. As a result, Reed argued, the process has gotten more conservative -- more incremental and evolutionary rather than revolutionary research proposals. This lack of diversity in approaches and mission-needs threaten to constrain the robust pace of innovation in the space, he noted. (Dan posts some additional thoughts on his testimony on his blog today.)

    Stewart opened by endorsing fully the recommendations of the PCAST on behalf of CASC, but focused some of his remarks specifically on the workforce issues faced by the field. The declining interest of U.S. students in S&E -- and particularly IT fields -- represents a huge challenge for America's future competitiveness, he argued. Programs that could increase the participation of American students in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) should be a strong focus of the committee, and he commended the Members for their work in getting such strong emphasis on STEM education in the America COMPETES Act.

    Winter really focused his remarks on the importance of the PCAST recommendation to emphasize cyber/physical systems (CPS) as a research area in the IT research and development portfolio. CPS are very important to the aviation industry, he argued, and the industry badly needs advances in technology development and tool development in the space and are reliant on the research community to get that work done.

    The member questions tended to focus on how best to get NITRD agencies to collaborate on research agendas and how to set priorities given limited funding. Of particular interest to Chairman Gordon was how the NITRD program could embrace the PCAST recommendation that the program ought to be rebalanced to emphasize more high-risk, long-range research efforts. Would this require new money, he asked? Greer thought that through better coordination, the agencies could do a lot to re-prioritize existing funding, but that new money was also likely required. Reed noted that it's not just an agency problem, there's also a cultural component within the computing research community that needs to change, too. Researchers need to think more audaciously in their research proposals and reviewers need to be willing to reward those proposals that are high-risk, but potentially high-payoff. More funding would ease some of the pressure to award conservative proposals rather than risky ones, of course, but this still requires a mindset change within the computing community -- something Reed said the community is starting to focus on.

    Rep. Jerry McNerny (D-CA) raised a question related to Reed's testimony about the undesirability of a research monoculture in the long-term part of the IT R&D portfolio. Wouldn't a single agency, assuming it's well run, manage and coordinate the long-range research better than if that research were spread among different agencies, he asked? Reed explained that, while its true that a single agency could certainly take on that piece of the portfolio by itself, historically, having a diversity of different funding models and agency missions available to researchers has proven to be an incredibly productive way to enable innovation in the IT sector. NSF is very good at individual investigator initiated research, for example, and DARPA was very good at placing big bets on hard problems and hand-picking communities of researchers to focus on them. Between just these two diverse approaches an enormous number of innovations resulted.

    There was also a recurring focus on cyber security in the member questions, in part spurred by the discussion about the ubiquitousness of computing devices and the increased access we now have to them. Winter pointed out that cyber security wasn't always a concern for a company like Boeing, despite a widespread use of embedded computing devices in things like avionics systems. But now, these systems increasingly communicate with the world outside the airplane -- exchanging data with other aircraft and other assets in the battlespace, enhancing the effectiveness of the systems, but also increasing their vulnerability to cyber attacks. There is much research to be done, the panelists agreed, on understanding how to secure these cyber-physical systems, and there were great concerns expressed that the current and projected workforce in the area is inadequate to the task ahead. Support for research in the area helps produce that workforce, the panelists noted.

    Finally, there was also brief discussion about Reed's recommendation, as someone who has served on both PCAST and the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) before it was folded into PCAST, in support of reconstituting PITAC in order to really get adequate oversight of the NITRD program. Though there are some within the Administration who oppose the push to reconstitute PITAC, there was no objection from the committee members to the suggestion -- in fact, Chairman Gordon pointed out that their reauthorization of HPCC in the America COMPETES Act actually called for the same thing. So perhaps we can look forward to the return of PITAC in the next Administration.

    And that was about it. Despite a good turnout among Members of Congress for the hearing (I counted 11 present at various times), the committee managed to wrap up its review of the program in just 56 minutes -- a record, in my experience, for a full-committee hearing of the House S&T committee. I take that as a good sign, however. The issues confronting the program are pretty clear, the steps required to address them aren't terribly controversial, it just remains to do them. In the next few weeks/months, we hope to see the direction the committee plans to take regarding the PCAST recommendations.

    As always, we'll have all the details here....

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 02:52 AM
    Posted to Events | Funding | Policy | Research

    July 30, 2008

    CRA Board Chair to Testify at House Science and Technology Hearing

    Tomorrow Dan Reed, CRA’s Board chair will testify before the House Science and Technology Committee on the state of the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) program. Dan is a part of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), which released a report last summer on the state of NITRD.

    Testifying along side Dan will be Dr. Chris Greer, Director of the National Coordination Office of NITRD, Dr. Craig Stewart, Associate Dean of Research Technologies at Indiana University and representing the Coalition for Academic Scientific Computation, and Don C. Winter, Vice President of Engineering & Information Technology at Phantom Works, a Boeing Company.

    The hearing charter is available online and the witness testimony should be posted soon. The hearing will be web cast so you can watch it live at 10 am. We’ll bring you highlights here after the hearing.

    Posted by MelissaNorr at 11:10 AM
    Posted to Funding | People | Policy | Research

    July 21, 2008

    Title IX's Growing Interest in Science

    Last Tuesday, NYT science commentator John Tierney discussed how Congress has recently ramped up enforcement of Title IX among universities' science departments. Will a "quota system"--an idea Tierney floats in the third paragraph of his piece--be an outcome of Title IX enforcement?

    So far, the increased enforcement has only consisted of periodic compliance reviews, which had been long-neglected by the NSF, Department of Energy, and NASA, according to a 2004 Government Accountability Office report. These reviews are intended to make sure grantee departments are not discriminatory.

    Of course, since some fields like computer science have many more men than women--both among students and faculty--there is concern that the government might start considering everyone "discriminatory" using the yardstick of proportionality and quotas. For athletics departments, such rigorous Title IX enforcement has led to a huge increase in the participation and achievement of women athletes, but at the expense of some male sports.

    The sciences are not necessarily in the same boat as sports: although most would agree that women face an uphill battle in the sciences, how much of the gap can be explained by discrimination remains an open question. "60 percent of biology majors and 70 percent of psychology Ph.D.'s" are women, raising the possibility that more women simply prefer other fields, as psychologist Susan Pinker argues.

    Another possibility is that if discrimination is having any effect, most of it happens before girls reach college. One study suggests that differences at adolescence explain different outcomes 20 years later.

    For now, though, the compliance reviews haven't rocked any boats. But the threat of a Title IX bludgeon hanging over departments' heads is sure to add urgency to debates about the shortage of women in fields like computer science and what to do about it.

    July 17, 2008

    Voters Overwhelmingly Support Investing in Science

    Voters’ ballots may be more partisan than ever, but the vast majority of Americans can agree that we need to invest in science and technology, according to a recent poll.

    71 percent of polled voters said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who “is committed to making sure the federal budget invests in scientific research.” And a whopping 86 percent said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate committed to “public investments in science and technology education.”

    Such investments have majority support among democrats as well as republicans (and independents, too), demonstrating the broad bipartisan consensus behind funding for science.

    Hat tip: Gene Spafford

    Posted by DustinCho at 01:29 PM
    Posted to Computing Education | Funding | Policy | Research

    June 30, 2008

    Supplemental Signed By President

    The Emergency Supplemental for FY08 -- the last chance to rectify the appropriations shortfall for science caused by the FY 08 Omnibus Appropriation -- has been signed by the President and is now law. Though science funding made it into the supplemental -- one of the few non-defense items in the bill -- the win for the science community is somewhat symbolic. The amount included ($400 million -- see here for a breakdown) is only about a third of the total shortfall of the FY08 appropriations, but it is nevertheless a sign that Congress and the White House understand the importance of research funding and are willing to back up their vocal support with some additional funding.

    Meanwhile, the FY 09 appropriations process marches on, with some better news for science. As always, stay tuned here for the latest as the appropriations cycle moves forward (or not) this year.

    June 20, 2008

    Science Appears in Final FY 08 Emergency Supplemental, But Only Just Barely

    A symbolic (and that's about all) victory for science in managing to get included in the FY 08 Emergency Supplemental Appropriation approved by the House today, though the amounts leave a lot to be desired. Even though the funding levels are pretty anemic, at least some money appeared in the bill. The great majority of other "special interests" that were clamoring to get into the bill didn't make it.

    The House and Senate Leadership agreed on a $400 million bump for science agencies that got shortchanged in the FY 08 Omnibus Approps -- a far cry from the $1.2 billion included by the Senate in its version and an even further cry from the levels called for in the COMPETES Act (and ACI, and the Democratic Innovation Agenda).

    Here's how it breaks out:

    • $62.5 million for Department of Energy's Office of Science (to "eliminate all furloughs and reductions in force which are a direct result of budgetary constraints")
    • $62.5 million for DOE Environmental Cleanup
    • $62.5 million for NASA
    • $62.5 million for NSF (a paltry $22.5 million for research and $40 million for EHR and the Noyce Scholarships)
    • $150 million for NIH (so even when NIH "loses," it still does better than the ACI agencies...)
    The argument given by the House leadership for these funding levels is that these are the only amounts that are truly "emergency" funds. The FY 09 Appropriations bill are supposed to get the agencies back on track. Of course, the likelihood of the FY 09 bills getting finished is quite slim, but that's the story.

    The Senate will pass the measure next week. The President has indicated that he's likely to sign it, so this is probably the end game for FY 08.

    On to FY 09....

    June 18, 2008

    DARPA Management Issues Cost Agency $32 Million

    Noah Shactman has an interesting post on the Danger Room Blog at Wired noting that the Pentagon has "reprogrammed" $32 million of DARPA funding, including $2 million from the Information and Communications Technology account because of DARPA's inability to attract program managers and spend the money allocated it. From the Reprogramming Action (pdf) report:

    "DARPA continues to underexecute its Research, Development, Test and Evaluation programs for two reasons: first, several key program managers' positions are unfilled because there are few experts in advanced sciences and technology, and second, DARPA's approval process is delaying contract awards."
    If I had to guess, I'd say the latter reason might have something to do with the former, too.

    It's certainly possible that the same policy changes at DARPA that have made it more difficult for university researchers to work on DARPA problems have also made DARPA a less-desireable place to spend a few years, but that's just my speculation....

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 06:30 PM
    Posted to Funding | Policy | R&D in the Press

    A Closer Look at the RAND Report on U.S. Competitiveness in S&T

    [Dustin Cho is CRA's new summer fellow from the Tisdale Fellowship Program, which has been bringing college students to Washington, DC, for internships that explore current public policy issues of critical importance to the high-tech sector. Dustin is a recent graduate of Yale University with a degree in political science and an interest in the intersection of public policy and technology. After suffering through what is sure to be a tortuous summer with us here at CRA World HQ, Dustin plans to begin law school at Harvard in the Fall. Until then, expect to see plenty of his writing here on the blog as we wring all we can out of him. -- Peter]

    I’ve just finished reading the RAND report, and as Peter points out, its authors take the contrarian position that U.S. science is as competitive as ever. They contend that the U.S. remains on top, and we’re not in danger of being overtaken because our R&D growth rates are pretty much the same as the rest of the world. According to RAND, there are only a few countries whose R&D growth outpaces ours, such as China and Korea, and all of these countries are starting from next to nothing (from 1993 to 2003, China only had to add $6B per year to grow at 17 percent, while the U.S. was adding more than double that amount annually and growing at 5.8 percent). Journalists’ interpretation: there’s nothing to worry about.

    That’s a dramatic oversimplification, because the underlying message of the report is that we should stop looking at R&D as a horse race – and that R&D is crucial to the United States’ future, regardless of what other countries are doing.

    The report argues that it’s nonsense to talk about R&D expenditures as “competition” between countries, since one country’s scientific advancements will end up increasing the standard of living for everyone in the world who can access its derivative technology. In fact, there are probably network effects to research such that increased funding actually has increasing returns – in other words, if there’s already a lot of worldwide R&D, then an extra dollar spent on research will allow another scientist to build off of other researcher’s developments, increasing every scientist’s productivity. So when other countries (or the U.S. itself) decide to invest more heavily in R&D, U.S. R&D productivity actually improves.

    That said, the report also emphasizes the importance of maintaining the U.S.’s comparative advantage in R&D. Right now, it’s relatively cheaper to do science and technology research in the U.S. due to our infrastructure, labor, and funding advantages. But as Harvard economist Richard Freeman points out, if other countries (such as China) overtake us in these areas, their lower wages might actually give them the comparative advantage, thereby severely damaging the U.S. economy as we’re forced to retool our infrastructure toward different industries. Freeman thinks it’s likely poorer countries will somewhat succeed in this by specializing in certain subfields and producing a lot of highly educated researchers. But the U.S. will be better equipped to maintain its comparative advantage if we encourage immigration of skilled researchers, increase federal funding, and improve infrastructure for R&D.

    The RAND report also shows that life sciences have received disproportionate federal funding, resulting in a glut of life sciences PhDs and hurting their salaries. In other S&T fields, employment demand has outstripped degree production. “The most notable instances of divergence between employment growth and growth in degrees are mathematics/computer sciences and physical sciences,” the report explains. “Mathematics/computer sciences degrees grew by 4 percent per year [from 1980 to 2000] – the highest rate of degree growth in S&E – while mathematics/computer sciences employment grew by more than twice that, 9 percent per year.”

    In fact, the only reason we have comparable R&D growth rates to other countries in federal funding is due to increased life sciences funding – non-life sciences S&T growth has basically flatlined. Private investment in R&D has increased, but it’s no replacement for federally funded academic research: “Even though industrial R&D is much larger than academic research expenditures, academic spillovers increase the R&D performed by industry significantly, and have a comparable effect on patents.” The report argues that network effects from increased academic research improve the productivity of private R&D.

    Since the bulk of the report examines ways to improve the United States’ R&D, it’s disappointing that media coverage (and the RAND press release itself) choose to overemphasize the counterproductive message that the U.S. is still the world leader in science and technology. Instead, shouldn’t we focus on how to keep it that way?

    June 12, 2008

    House CJS Committee Approves Big Increase for NSF...

    ...but don't get too excited, yet.

    The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science today approved (pdf) a nearly 14 percent increase for the National Science Foundation ($830 million over NSF's lackluster FY 08 number) in its version of the FY 09 CJS Appropriations bill.

    While the committee is doing this with the stated goal of getting NSF back on the doubling track called for in the America COMPETES Act, this is just one step along a long and tortuous path appropriations will take to get completed this year. Unfortunately, all the dynamics that were in play last year that led to science getting completely shut out of increases in the final FY 08 Omnibus Appropriations are still in play this year. And frankly, it appears that we are once again headed for a long-term continuing resolution until at least early next year, when lawmakers can assess the new climate after the election and chart a new strategy.

    Still, the CJS Committee deserves kudos for continuing to find a way to highlight the importance of science funding and for giving the community a good starting point from which to argue for continued support throughout the remainder of the appropriations process. We'll have all the details of that process here, so stay tuned.

    The Chronicle of Higher Ed has more (though that link might be temporary).

    May 15, 2008

    Update on the Supplemental

    Well after a lot of rumors, innuendo, and veto threats, the House supplemental appropriations bill -- the last hope for rectifying the shortfall for science in FY 2008 -- does not contain additional funding for science and technology but the Senate version does. The House version, which is scheduled to be debated and voted on today, only includes additional domestic funding for veterans education, unemployment benefits, and Medicaid and some additional international aid that the President requested. The Senate version, which is scheduled to have floor time next week, also includes $1.2 billion for science at NASA, NSF, NIH, and DOE. It is unlikely that the Senate will pass the supplemental with a veto proof majority so the question going forward is how to reconcile the two bills -- and how they will handle the science funding -- and avoid a Presidential veto. It is likely that much of the Senate funding will get stripped out in order to satisfy House Republicans and “Blue Dog” Democrats who would vote against the additional spending and to avoid a veto by the President. We’ll keep you posted as the debate and votes happen and let you know how it all shakes out in the end…

    Update: Here is a breakdown of the funding for science the Senate is including in their version of the supplemental.

    $150 million for NSF basic research activities and $50 million for four science/math education programs.

    $400 million for DOE - $300 million for environmental management and $100 million for ACI, of which $50 million is fusion (ITER).

    $200 million for NASA for a new account to reimburse NASA programs that helped to cover costs associated with Space Shuttle return to flight after 2003 Columbia accident.

    $400 million for NIH.

    This additional funding, while welcome, does not cover the short fall for the ACI-related agencies who lost out in the FY08 omnibus. But at least the Senate included science funding which is more than can be said for the House version. Sigh.

    April 29, 2008

    National Academies Convocation on Gathering Storm Two Years Later

    The National Academies, in conjunction with the National Math and Science Initiative, will hold a day long convocation today called “Rising Above The Gathering Storm Two Years Later: Accelerating Progress Toward A Brighter Future.” Discussions will include what has happened since the 2005 report was release at the federal, state, and private sector levels and, of course, what still needs to happen. Competitiveness overall, K-12, higher education, and research are all panel and breakout topics throughout the convocation. Frequent readers will remember that the Gathering Storm report, released in October 2005, was a report requested by Sens. Alexander (R-TN) and Bingaman (D-NM) and Reps. Boehlert (R-NY) and Gordon (D-TN) that listed the top 10 actions Congress should undertake to secure America’s competitiveness. The report was a catalyst for news, legislation, and further reports that we have reported on regularly over the last couple of years.

    The convocation has spurred a grasstops effort, led by The Science Coalition, to bring the issue of research funding back to the forefront just as Congress begins to consider both a supplemental and the FY09 appropriations bills. The Coalition is encouraging university and association leaders to contact their Congressional members with letters emphasizing the call for increased funding of basic research contained in the “Gathering Storm” report and to contact local media on the ongoing competitiveness issue.

    Additional coverage of the convocation can be found at The Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog.

    April 17, 2008

    WSJ Op-Ed on Missing Leadership in Science

    Two Nobel Prize winners have an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (sub. req’d) today regarding the need to make science a top priority of the next Administration. David Baltimore and Ahmed Zewail write that the next President needs to have an Office of Science and a science advisor at the White House in order to protect America’s competitive future. The piece makes a strong case for the necessity of strong leadership on science and science funding and is worth a read if you have access to the Wall Street Journal.

    The section that best sums up the argument of the op-ed and the community as a whole plays on the fact that the three major candidates for President turned down an opportunity to have a debate focused on science issues is:

    Apparently the top contenders for our nation's highest elective office have better things to do than explain to the public their views on securing America's future.

    Protecting that future starts with understanding that much of the wealth in this country comes from scientific research and technological innovation. Translating science into commerce has opened up vast new fields of endeavor and has raised the standard of living in America. The country that is on the cutting edge of developing new technology is the country best positioned to benefit from that new technology.

    April 16, 2008

    Rumors Swirl Around Supplemental

    We're starting to hear from folks on the Hill that it's looking more like science funding might be included in the initial supplemental when it comes out of the Senate. What's less clear is how much, though the consensus seems to be "likely less than the science and technology community hopes it will be." It's also not clear what the House might do with its version of the supplemental or what would happen if, as the President has repeatedly said, it gets vetoed for including domestic spending.

    Another rumor buzzing around DC that the supplemental might actually get split into two bills: an Iraq-only funding bill and an Afghanistan and domestic spending bill. This is politically expedient for the Democrats as the issue of Iraq funding splits the party. By having a separate bill to fund the war in Afghanistan and some domestic programs, it allows the Democrats to vote against funding Iraq without withdrawal timetables but for Afghanistan and domestic program spending that they do support.

    We'll know a lot more in the next week or two as the House and Senate appropriations committees begin their hearings and markups on the supplemental bills. Meanwhile, the science advocacy community continues to be very active in trying to make the case for science funding in the supplemental. Last week's grassroots effort (which included CRA's Computing Research Advocacy Network's involvement) appears to have generated a lot of phone calls to Members of Congress about the issue, and the various coalitions continue to weigh in with their corporate membership to make the case.

    It's expected that the various supplemental bills will hit the House and Senate floors in late April or early May, so keep it tuned here for details.

    April 07, 2008

    Grassroots Effort to Urge Support for Science Funding in Supplemental

    Here's a note sent to members of our Computing Research Advocacy Network. You can join, too!:

    ACTION REQUEST: Call your U.S. Senators, your Representative in the House, and the White House this week to urge support for science funding in the FY 08 Supplemental.

    WHY?: Though the FY 08 Appropriations process ended with an omnibus appropriations bill that eliminated most of the planned increases to science accounts called for in the President's budget and authorized in the bipartisan America COMPETES Act, we have one last chance to mitigate the damage to U.S. science efforts caused by that decision. Congress will soon consider a supplemental appropriations bill for FY 08 necessary to cover the costs of the ongoing war in Iraq and operations in Afghanistan, in addition to other immediate concerns not addressed in the FY 08 omnibus appropriation. CRA has covered this issue in depth in this space.

    Members of the science advocacy community, including CRA, are mounting a strong effort, with the support of some Congressional champions, to address the shortfall for science in FY 08 in the supplemental spending bill. As part of that effort, CRA will be participating in a large-scale, grassroots effort to weigh-in with individual members of Congress about the importance of including additional funding for key science agencies in the supplemental appropriation.

    We are asking members of CRAN to call their representatives in the House, their two U.S. senators and the White House on Tuesday, April 8th; Wednesday, April 9th; or Thursday, April 10th to urge support for the inclusion of additional funding for the Department of Energy Office of Science, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute for Standards and Technology in the FY 08 supplemental appropriations bill.

    HOW?: Here's a handy guide for the effort with all the details for your participation, including a simple script to use when calling. The point of this exercise is simply to register your opinion on this issue with your representatives in Congress and the White House. Calls to these offices are logged daily by issue and Members of Congress are influenced by call volumes in trying to decide how much an issue matters to their district. We expect significant participation from scientists and researchers across the disciplines -- we want to make sure computing researchers are heard from, too.

    So, please plan to call your representative, senators and the White House this Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday as part of this effort. While the attached indicates you can place the call to the district offices or your representatives' DC offices, we've found through experience that a call to the DC office is more beneficial (more likely to be logged).

    Phone numbers to use:

    To call White House: (202) 456-1111

    To call your Representative and Senators: Look up their contact info at Vote Smart

    We'd also like to gauge our members participation, so please send us an e-mail when you call, letting us know who you called and whether you received any response. Please send the email to

    Thanks again for your participation and support of computing research. Your effort will help convey to Congress and the Administration the breadth and depth of support for fully funding these key federal science agencies. Good luck with your calls!

    To join the Computing Research Advocacy Network (CRAN) and receive email alerts, please sign up here.

    April 02, 2008

    AEA Cyberstates 2008 Report Released

    While the economic news coming from most areas has been fairly poor in recent weeks, the American Electronics Association (AEA) Cyberstates 2008 report does have some good job news. Cyberstates 2008, which was released this week, showed job growth in technology and engineering of over 91,000 jobs in 2007. The news isn’t all good, however, as that was down from over 130,000 jobs added in 2006.

    AEA President Christopher Hansen told Congress Daily that “The upside is that technology jobs pay considerably more than most other posts in the private sector and although the labor market remains tight, unemployment rates are below 2 percent across many tech occupations.” The bad news, he told the publication, is “The tech industry and the country risk an impending slide in U.S. global competitiveness, caused by negligence on the part of our political leaders to adequately invest in scientific research, improve our education system, and allow the best and brightest from around the world to work in the United States.”

    AEA has been a forceful voice, alongside CRA and the rest of the S&T community, calling for fully funding the America COMPETES Act in order to keep job growth in these sectors going and to increase the competitiveness of the US.

    Highlights from the Cyber States 2008 report can be found here.

    March 13, 2008

    Gates Tells Congress to Support Research

    “Research is where it’s at,” Bill Gates said yesterday summing up his (and CRA's, in fact) message for federal funding priorities in a single sentence to the House Science and Technology Committee. The response came in the final minutes of the hearing when Gates was asked what the priority for federal funding should be given that there is a finite amount of federal money to spend and the large number of potential science and technology areas it could be spent on.

    Gates’ appearance before the committee, his last as Chairman of Microsoft, was in commemoration of the committee’s 50th anniversary. The theme of the hearing was familiar to those in the science and technology realm—Competitiveness and Innovation. Gates’ testimony, both written and in response to questions, followed the arguments he and the rest of the S&T community have been making for the last several years: the urgency for improving STEM education at the K-12 level, the critical need for federal funding of basic research, the importance of attracting the best and the brightest from around the world to U.S. universities, the need to increase diversity in STEM fields, and the requirement that we do whatever we can to retain talent in the U.S.

    The entire written testimony and a webcast of the hearing are available on the committee web site. In it, Gates, not unexpectedly, highlights the important contributions of information technology and its great potential to aid in solving some of the trickiest problems we face:

    Computing and software will also play an increasingly central role in scientific research. We are rapidly moving into an era of data-centric computational science in which researchers across a wide range of disciplines routinely use software and computers as essential tools for investigation and collaboration. The ability to use computers to model complex systems is transforming the way we learn about everything from genomics and biosciences to physics and astronomy. In the future, scientific computing will play a profoundly important role in advances that will help us treat diseases, address climate change, and confront many other critical issues.
    ...But he raises important questions about whether we're doing all we can to insure the U.S. remains an innovation leader:
    As I hope these remarks reflect, I am optimistic about the potential for technology to help us find new ways to improve people’s lives and tackle important challenges. I am less optimistic, however, that the United States will continue to remain a global leader in technology innovation. While America’s innovation heritage is unparalleled, the evidence is mounting that we are failing to make the investments in our young people, our workers, our scientific research infrastructure, and our economy that will enable us to retain our global innovation leadership.

    In particular, I believe that there are two urgent reasons why we should all be deeply concerned that our advantages in science and technology innovation are in danger of slipping away.

    First, we face a critical shortfall of skilled scientists and engineers who can develop new breakthrough technologies. Second, the public and private sectors are no longer investing in basic research and development (R&D) at the levels needed to drive long-term innovation.

    If the United States truly wants to secure its global leadership in technology innovation, we must, as a nation, commit to a strategy for innovation excellence – a set of initiatives and policies that will provide the foundation for American competitive strength in the years ahead. Such a strategy cannot succeed without a serious commitment from – and partnership between – both the public and private sectors. It will also need to be flexible and dynamic enough to respond to rapid changes in the global economy.

    Update: Some press coverage of the hearing from Forbes, the Washington Post, and one in Inforworld (though the latter focuses almost exclusively on Gates' H-1B testimony).

    March 06, 2008

    FY09 House Budget Resolution

    The House of Representatives Budget Committee passed the FY09 budget resolution and a Sense of the House resolution last night reaffirming the importance of S&T funding. The budget resolution provides a large pot of money for the accounts that fund science agencies, including an additional $379 million above the President’s request for the account that funds NSF. The Sense of the House resolution, a non-binding resolution, says that it is important to fully fund the America COMPETES Act. While this is a good sign of support for science, it's only the first step that Congress must take to realize these increases as part of the FY 09 appropriations process. And we've seen in the past how good first steps don't necessarily mean the final steps will be equally good. Sense of the House text:



    It is the sense of the House that the House should provide sufficient funding so that our Nation may continue to be the world leader in education, innovation and economic growth; last year, Congress passed and the President signed the America COMPETES Act, bipartisan legislation designed to ensure that American students, teachers, businesses, and workers are pre-pared to continue leading the world in innovation, research, and technology well into the future; this resolution supports the efforts authorized in the America COMPETES Act, providing substantially increased funding above the President’s requested level for 2009, and increased amounts after 2009 in Function 250 (General Science, Space and Technology) and Function 270 (Energy); additional increases for scientific research and education are included in Function 500 (Education, Employment, Training and Social Services), Function 550 (Health), Function 300 (Environment and Natural Resources), and Function 370 (Commerce and Housing Credit), all of which receive more funding than the President’s budget provides; because America’s greatest resource for innovation resides within classrooms across the country, the increased funding provided in this resolution will support initiatives within the America COMPETES Act to educate tens of thousands of new scientists, engineers, and mathematicians, and place highly qualified teachers in math and science K-12 classrooms; and because independent scientific research provides the foundation for innovation and future technologies, this resolution will keep us on the path toward doubling funding for the National Science Foundation, basic research in the physical sciences, and collaborative research partnerships, and toward achieving energy independence through the develop ment of clean and sustainable alternative energy technologies.

    We’ll have more on the budget resolution as the process moves forward. Stay tuned!

    March 05, 2008

    Help Urge Congress To Support Increases in Science, Computing Research

    An effort is under way to influence the National Science Foundation's FY09 funding early this appropriations season. Reps. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Bob Inglis (R-SC) and Brian Baird (D-WA) have put together a letter to the House Appropriations Chair and Ranking Member to urge support for NSF's FY09 budget request of $7.326 billion (which represents a 13.6 percent increase over FY08), and they're looking for more of their colleagues to co-sign. CRA has joined with many others in the science advocacy community in alerting our membership to help encourage more Members of Congress to sign on. But you can help, too! Below is the alert that we sent out to the Computing Research Advocacy Network (interested in joining?). You don't have to be a member to participate!:

    Members of the Computing Research Advocacy Network:

    I am writing to ask for your help with a brief opportunity that we have to influence support for increasing funding at the National Science Foundation in the FY09 budget appropriations process in the House of Representatives. Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Bob Inglis (R-SC) and Brian Baird (D-WA) have circulated a "Dear Colleague" letter to all of the Members of the House of Representatives asking them to sign a letter (text provided below) to the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee urging their support for the agency's budget request of $7.326 billion for FY09, an increase of 13.6 percent over FY08. As you know, the National Science Foundation (NSF) funds 86 percent of all university-based computing research, so securing a funding increase at this vital agency is crucially important to the computing community. We want to get NSF back onto the doubling track.

    In order for this effort to have significant impact, the letter needs as many congressional signatories as possible. We're asking CRAN members to please contact your Representative immediately to encourage him or her to sign this letter. Members wishing to sign the letter MUST do so by March 12, so the window of opportunity is brief to make a difference. Please CALL your Representative's office today to encourage him or her to sign.

    The process is short and simple: Call your Representative's DC office (if you need assistance finding your Congressman's phone number, please go to the House of Representatives web site or contact Melissa Norr at CRA at or at 202-266-2944). Ask to speak to the legislative assistant who handles science issues for the Member. Explain that you're a researcher in the Representative's district, and that much of work performed at your institution is enabled by support from NSF. Urge the Representative to support the increase requested by NSF for FY09, and to demonstrate that support by signing the letter in the Dear Colleague circulated by Ehlers, Holt, Baird and Inglis last Tuesday. That's it!

    As of last Friday, co-signers, in addition to Reps. Ehlers, Holt, Baird and Inglis, include the following representatives:

    * Mike Rogers (AL)
    * Thomas Allen (ME)
    * Alcee Hastings (FL)
    * Betty Sutton (OH)
    * Phil English (PA)
    * Ron Paul (TX)
    * Michael McNulty (NY)
    * Jim Moran (VA)
    * David Loebsack (IA)

    Previous efforts have produced more than 100 co-signers. We'd like to reach at least that level this time as well. Remember, Members have until March 12th to sign on, so please call soon.

    On behalf of the CRA, many thanks for your help!
    -- Jeff

    P.S. Here's a text of the letter we want your Congressman to sign:

    Dear Chairman Mollohan and Ranking Member Frelinghuysen,

    We are writing to thank you for your past support for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and to ask you to continue that support in the FY 2009 appropriations bill. Our request is to uphold the fiscal year 2009 funding level of the American COMPETES Act of $7.326 billion for the National Science Foundation.

    In 2007, a pathway was established to double the budget of the NSF over the course of 10 years. The priority recommendation of an esteemed panel of the National Academies, the Rising Above the Gathering Storm report, served as the catalyst for Congress and the Administration to find consensus on the doubling path for the physical sciences. The National Academies' convincing report warned that the U.S. must invest in fundamental research or our innovation pipeline will deteriorate.

    Despite the evidence and overwhelming support for the COMPETES Act, which was signed into law in August 2007, funding for NSF fell short of the ten-year doubling path in both the FY07 and FY08 appropriations cycles. Cumulatively, NSF was funded $500 million below the request in the past two years. Our request - as authorized by the COMPETES Act - adds this amount to the funding request for NSF by the Administration in FY09 ($6.854 billion) in order to restore these deficits. This will put the NSF back on its doubling path.

    A renewed commitment to core basic research and educational programs at NSF is essential to meet the enormous promise of scientific innovation, to better train future scientists, engineers, and technicians, and to promote the success of multidisciplinary initiatives, including biotechnology and nanotechnology. We now need to make substantial investments in the physical sciences and engineering. NSF is the core agency for these endeavors.

    Past investments in NSF have contributed greatly to major technological advances in areas and industries that are critical for U.S. economic growth and defense. We respectfully request that you continue the flow of such advances in the FY09 budget by funding NSF at $7.326 billion."

    Jeffrey S. Vitter
    Frederick L. Hovde Dean of the College of Science
    Purdue University

    Update: A list of additional signers as of March 6, is below.

    Update 2: The letter has 126 signers as of March 17. The total list is below. Thank you to everyone who contacted their Congressmen.

    Neil Abercrombie (HI-1, D)
    Thomas Allen (ME-1, D)
    Jason Altmire (PA-4, D)
    Michael Arcuri (NY-24, D)
    Tammy Baldwin (WI-2, D)
    Roscoe Bartlett (MD-6, R)
    Shelley Berkley (NV-1, D)
    Howard Berman (CA-28, D)
    Judy Biggert (IL-13, R)
    Brian Bilbray (CA-50, R)
    Tim Bishop (NY-1, D)
    Earl Blumenauer (OR-3, D)
    Rick Boucher (VA-9, D)
    Nancy Boyda (KS-2, D)
    Bruce Braley (IA-1, D)
    Corrine Brown (FL-3, D)
    Steve Buyer (IN-4, R)
    Dave Camp (MI-4, R)
    Lois Capps (CA-23, D)
    Michael Capuano (MA-8, D)
    Russ Carnahan (MO-3, D)
    Chris Carney (PA-10, D)
    William Clay (MO-1, D)
    Emanuel Cleaver II (MO-5, D)
    Jim Cooper (TN-5, D)
    Jim Costa (CA-20, D)
    Joseph Crowley (NY-7, D)
    Susan Davis (CA-53, D)
    Tom Davis (VA-11, R)
    Diana DeGette (CO-1, D)
    William Delahunt (MA-10, D)
    Charlie Dent (PA-15, R)
    John Dingell (MI-15, D)
    Michael Doyle (PA-14, D)
    John Duncan (TN-2, R)
    Chet Edwards (TX-17, D)
    Eliot Engel (NY-17, D)
    Phil English (PA-3, R)
    Anna Eshoo (CA-14, D)
    Bob Etheridge (NC-2, D)
    Bob Filner (CA-51, D)
    Jeff Fortenberry (NE-1, R)
    Barney Frank (MA-4, D)
    Jim Gerlach (PA-6, R)
    Wayne Gilchrest (MD-1, R)
    Charles Gonzalez (TX-20, D)
    Phil Hare (IL-17, D)
    Alcee Hastings (FL-23, D)
    Doc Hastings (WA-4, R)
    Stephanie Herseth (SD, D)
    Baron Hill (IN-9, D)
    Maurice Hinchey (NY-22, D)
    Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15, D)
    Paul Hodes (NH-2, D)
    Darlene Hooley (OR-5, D)
    Jay Inslee (WA-1, D)
    Darrell Issa (CA-49, R)
    Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18, D)
    William Jefferson (LA-2, D)
    Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30, D)
    Timothy Johnson (IL-15, R)
    Steve Kagen (WI-8, D)
    Dale Kildee (MI-5, D)
    Ron Kind (WI-3, D)
    Sander Levin (MI-12, D)
    John Lewis (GA-5, D)
    Dan Lipinski (IL-3, D)
    David Loebsack (IA-2, D)
    Zoe Lofgren (CA-16, D)
    Stephen Lynch (MA-9, D)
    Carolyn Maloney (NY-14, D)
    Edward Markey (MA-7, D)
    Doris Matsui (CA-5, D)
    Michael McCaul (TX-10, R)
    Jim McDermott (WA-7, D)
    James McGovern (MA-3, D)
    John McHugh (NY-23, R)
    Mike McIntyre (NC-7, D)
    Jerry McNerney (CA-11, D)
    Michael McNulty (NY-21, D)
    Gregory Meeks (NY-6, D)
    Michael Michaud (ME-2, D)
    Brad Miller (NC-13, D)
    Harry Mitchell (AZ-5, D)
    Dennis Moore (KS-3, D)
    James Moran (VA-8, D)
    Chris Murphy (CT-5, D)
    Jerrold Nadler (NY-8, D)
    James Oberstar (MN-8, D)
    Solomon Ortiz (TX-27, D)
    Frank Pallone (NJ-6, D)
    Ron Paul (TX-14, R)
    Donald Payne (NJ-10, D)
    Ed Perlmutter (CO-7, D)
    Thomas Petri (WI-6, R)
    Todd Platts (PA-19, R)
    Jim Ramstad (MN-3, R)
    Thomas Reynolds (NY-26, R)
    Mike Rogers (AL-3, R)
    Mike Rogers (MI-8, R)
    Peter Roskam (IL-6, R)
    Mike Ross (AR-4, D)
    Jim Saxton (NJ-3, R)
    Janice Schakowsky (IL-9, D)
    Allyson Schwartz (PA-13, D)
    David Scott (GA-13, D)
    Robert Scott (VA-3, D)
    Joe Sestak (PA-7, D)
    Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1, D)
    Albio Sires (NJ-13, D)
    Louise McIntosh Slaughter (NY-28, D)
    Adam Smith (WA-9, D)
    Lamar Smith (TX-21, R)
    Betty Sutton (OH-13, D)
    Ellen Tauscher (CA-10, D)
    Niki Tsongas (MA-5, D)
    Chris Van Hollen (MD-8, D)
    Henry Waxman (CA-30, D)
    Robert Wexler (FL-19, D)
    Charlie Wilson (OH-6, D)
    Rob Wittman (VA-1, R)
    David Wu (OR-1, D)

    February 07, 2008

    FY 09 Budget Close-Up: National Science Foundation

    The National Science Foundation (along with all other federal agencies) released its FY 09 Budget Request to Congress on Monday. We've already had some preliminary coverage of it, noting that, on the whole, computing research does pretty well. Late Monday afternoon NSF hosted a briefing on its budget to provide a little finer resolution look at what they hope to get from Congress in this appropriations season -- and we've got those details below (spoiler: they're pretty good).

    But maybe just as importantly, NSF's Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) directorate also provided some detail about how it plans to deal with the austere appropriation it received from Congress for FY 2008. Before we get to the relatively good news from the request, it's probably appropriate to close the book on the FY 2008 numbers. You'll recall that CISE had some big plans for FY 2008. We've listed some of the potential impacts on NSF overall from the omnibus funding levels in a previous post, but here's what we know specifically about CISE:

    • NSF had requested a 9.0 percent increase for CISE in FY 2008, an increase of $47 million. Instead, CISE will see just a 1.5 percent increase -- $39 million less than requested.
    • The Cyber-enabled Discovery Initiative (CDI), a new initiative when it was proposed for FY 08, will see all of its requested funding. For FY 08, that's $20 million. Foundation-wide, CDI will be funded at $48 million in FY 08, down a bit from the overall request of $52 million, but still a strong commitment to a program that has attracted considerable attention within the computing community (with more to come in FY 09).
    • The biggest impact on CISE, therefore, is the growth that won't occur across the rest of the core in FY 08. Because NSF has targeted an average award size of $120,000 for FY 08, that's approximately 325 grants they had planned to award that they will not now as a result of the omnibus. On average, those 325 awards would have supported more than 400 graduate students this year.
    Now, the good news.

    For FY 2009, NSF hopes to make up the ground lost in the omnibus by requesting significant increases for its research directorates. Overall, NSF would see its budget increase by 14 percent over FY 08, to $6.06 billion in FY 09. Within that increase, computing research is featured prominently in the request. The Foundation-wide, but CISE led, Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation program would expand considerably under the agency's plan, growing from $48 million in FY 08 to $100 million in FY 09, including $33 million in CISE. Additionally, the agency has proposed two new foundation-wide initiatives that have strong computing foci. The first is a $20 million investment in "Science and Engineering Beyond Moore's Law," which "aims to position the U.S. at the forefront of communications and computation capability beyond the physical and conceptional limitations of current systems." That program would be led by the Mathematics and Physical Sciences directorate, but CISE would control $6 million in awards. The second is a $15 million investment ($3.5 million in CISE) in "Adaptive Systems Technology" that focuses on "generating pathways and interfaces between human and physical systems that will revolutionize the development of novel adaptive systems."

    Additionally, CISE would see its core research budget increase by 19.5 percent, or $104 million, in FY 09 under the President's plan -- essentially making up all the ground lost with the omnibus. Programs of note within the directorate include:

    • $78 million for Computing Fundamentals -- set-aside for basic, potentially transformative research answering fundamental questions in computing that have the potential for "significant, enduring impact." Foci include cyber-physical systems, data-intensive computing, software for complex systems, cybersecurity, network science and engineering, and understanding "what is computable?" when humans and machines work together to solve problems neither can solve alone.
    • $33.6 million for CDI -- CISE would contribute over a third of the total NSF investment in the initiative and would be the "lead" directorate.
    We'll have some additional charts spelling out exactly how CISE plans to spend its money in FY 09 very soon.

    For now, it's enough to say that the budget appears to once again represent a good start for NSF and computing in the appropriations cycle. But it's just the start of a long, unpredictable process.

    Next up, a focus on DOD IT R&D....

    February 05, 2008

    FY 09 Budget Close-up: DOE Office of Science

    It looks like a decent year for Advanced Scientific Computing Research at the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Following the FY08 omnibus, in which ASCR received an almost 25 percent increase, the President has requested another 5 percent increase for FY09, for a total of $368.8 million. Here is a brief breakdown:

    • Applied mathematics and computer science research $93.2 million
    • Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) $58.1 million
    • High-performance computing and network facilities and testbeds $217.5 million

    The high-performance computing number includes:

    • $54.8 million for the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center
    • $85 million for Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility
    • $30 million for Argonne Leadership Computing Facility
    • $25 million for an Energy Sciences Network (ESNet)

    US high-performance computing is expected to reach a petaflop this year at Oak Ridge and Raymond Orbach, the director of the Office of Science, stated at the budget briefing presentation that the US will increase computing power by a factor of ten every two years moving forward.

    Overall, the Office of Science did well in the request with $4.7 billion, an 18.8 percent increase. This keeps the Office of Science close to the ACI trajectory announced by the President in 2006. Funding levels include:

    • $805 million for high energy physics
    • $510 million for nuclear physics
    • $568.5 million for biological and environmental research
    • $1.57 billion for basic energy science
    • $493 million for fusion energy sciences
    • $110 million for science laboratories infrastructure

    In FY08, there were $123.6 million in earmarks in a total appropriation of $4.02 billion, which the President has zeroed out in the FY09 budget request.

    February 04, 2008

    Computing Research Appears to Do Well in First Look at FY 09 Budget Numbers

    The President's budget request for FY 2009 is now online and we've done a quick read through to glean some numbers of interest to the computing research community. These will likely be refined over the next few days as we figure out exactly what's in there and what's not, but it's a pretty good indication of where the President's priorities are as we head into his final year.

    The Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) program
    NITRD represents the sum total of the federal government's investment in information technology research across 13 federal agencies. Overall, the NITRD program would see an increase of 6 percent compared to estimated levels for FY 2008, due largely to increases in the three agencies featured in the President's American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI). IT R&D at the National Science Foundation would grow 17 percent> over FY 08 levels to $1.090 billion (putting NSF's share of NITRD at over a billion dollars for the first time). The Department of Energy's Office of Science computing research would grow 13 percent over FY 08 to $494 million. Dept of Commerce, which includes the National Institute of Standards and Technology, would grow 6 percent to $90 million.

    Defense IT R&D appears to decrease 2 percent in the President's request vs FY08, but it's hard to assess that decrease without understanding exactly how many congressionally-directed projects (earmarks) were removed in the agency request. (More below.)

    NASA and the National Institutes of Health also see either flat-funding or slight decreases in the request, but again, without knowing what earmarks were removed, it's hard to assess the budgets.

    EPA and the National Archives and Records Administration would get what little they received in FY 08 in FY 09 ($6 million and $5 million, respectively).

    Agency budgets:

    NSF (pdf)
    NSF research accounts would increase 16 percent (14 percent for NSF overall) over FY 08 in the President's plan, to $6.06 billion. Included in that $6 billion is "$1.1 billion for fundamental information technology research and cutting-edge supercomputing and networking resources, including: $100 million, an 110-percent increase, for an NSF-wide effort to develop radically new computational concepts and tools [this is Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation -- Peter]; and $30 million for a new targeted cyber-security research effort in privacy, fundamental theory and usability."

    We'll have CISE numbers after NSF's budget briefing later this afternoon.

    DOE (pdf)
    DOE Science Programs would grow 19 percent vs FY 08 to $4.7 billion. As noted above, DOE's IT R&D would see a 13 percent increase (on top of the nearly 25 percent increase DOE's Advanced Scientific Computing Research account received in the omnibus for FY 08).

    NIST (pdf)
    NIST core research would increase 4 percent over FY 08, but given the heavy earmarks in the omnibus that were likely stripped from this agency request, that may actually seem like a much more substantial increase.

    NASA (pdf)
    NASA science would drop 4 percent to $4.4 billion.

    NIH (pdf)
    NIH is flat-funded in the President's request.

    Defense (pdf)
    This is trickiest to figure out given the how heavily the DOD budget is earmarked. The President's budget calls for an increase of just 4 percent for Defense Basic (6.1) research and a decrease of 16 percent to Defense Applied (6.2) research vs. FY 08. However, if you subtract the earmarks from the FY 08 baseline, the increase for DOD 6.1 is more like 17 percent. DOD 6.2 shorn of earmarks would also grow in FY 09 to look like a 3.5 percent *increase* over FY 08 (not a 16 percent decrease). But the devil's in the details and we'll have many more of those in the coming days.

    On the whole, it looks like the President has followed through with his commitment to ACI in his final budget. Of course, he's also pledged to take some very firm stands regarding earmarks in the upcoming appropriations process (he's threatened to veto any appropriations bill sent to his desk that doesn't cut FY08 earmark levels in half). That stand virtually guarantees he won't be around when Congress finally gets around to passing approps bills. It's very unlikely Congress will want to a) give up that many earmarks and b) engage in a battle over appropriations before the election, so it's likely this won't get settled until January 09 (or later). But, as with last year, we start with some pretty healthy numbers. In fact, in terms of IT R&D, we start with the healthiest requests we've seen in many years.

    More details to come.

    January 28, 2008

    Standing "O" for Basic Research

    I know that after the crummy omnibus appropriation we got after a year of positive signs, it's hard to get excited about the prospect of starting the whole process over again. But it was very encouraging to see the standing ovation for the President's mention of the need to double federal funding for basic research in the physical sciences in his State of the Union remarks tonight. Here was the line that earned the ovation:

    To keep America competitive into the future, we must trust in the skill of our scientists and engineers and empower them to pursue the breakthroughs of tomorrow.

    Last year, Congress passed legislation supporting the American Competitiveness Initiative, but never followed through with the funding. This funding is essential to keeping our scientific edge.

    So I ask Congress to double federal support for critical basic research in the physical sciences and ensure America remains the most dynamic nation on earth. (APPLAUSE)

    It's a start. We'll have much more budget news after the new Administration budget is released next Monday....

    January 25, 2008

    FY 2008 Omnibus: Damage Assessment

    Update: (1/30/08) -- Cameron Wilson of USACM has some additional (depressing) details of the impact of the omnibus on the third ACI-related agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology. For the impact on the other two -- NSF and DOE's Office of Science -- see the original post just below!

    Original Post: We're beginning to get a sense of how the shortfall in the FY 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill will impact specific programs in some of the federal science agencies. While we won't get the full story until after the FY 09 Budget comes out on February 4th, the bits and pieces that are leaking around town are fairly dispiriting.

    First the good news. It appears that though NSF's research accounts only received $57 million in new money for FY 08 (an increase over FY 07 that fails to keep pace with inflation), the $52 million Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation program will likely move forward, though it's not clear whether it will be "fully-funded." Unfortunately, that's where the good news ends. The rest of the stats are pretty gruesome:

    • NSF will likely fund 1,000 fewer research grants in FY 08 than planned and the average award size will be smaller.
    • NSF Graduate Fellowships will drop by 230.
    • The number of Faculty Early Career Awards will likely drop by five percent.
    • The Science of Science and Innovation Policy program will likely be delayed.
    • The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program, slated to grow to $40 million in FY 08 will instead be flat-funded at $10 million.
    • The National Ecological Observatory Network will likely be delayed.
    • The Ocean Observatories Initiative will likely be delayed.
    • Research Experiences for Undergraduates may be reduced by five percent.
    • Science of Learning Centers will likely face a delay and possible reduction.
    Things aren't any better at the Department of Energy's Office of Science. While the Advanced Scientific Computing Research program will see an pretty healthy increase in FY 08 (about 25 percent) and the start of a new "Institute for Advanced Architectures and Algorithms" with Centers of Excellence at Sandia National Labs and Oak Ridge National Labs, researchers across the board (including computing researchers) will see cuts or layoffs as a result of the overall agency budget. Here's what we know so far:
    • Cuts to the Fusion Energy Sciences budget will result in layoffs of up to 40 at ORNL, PPPL, SRL, and LANL.
    • Cuts to the Basic Energy Sciences budget mean that no funding for any new research initiatives in use-inspired energy research and the layoff of approximately 50 permanent PhDs, 30 postdocs, and 20 students from on-going research programs. (As a comparison, the new research initiatives called for in the FY 08 budget would have supported about 400 permanent PhDs, 120 postdocs and 240 students).
    • Cuts to High Energy Physics will result in some facility closures and the loss of support for 450 employees (250 at the Stanford Linear Accelerator and 200 at Fermi Lab).
    • Cuts to Nuclear Physics will result in reductions of up to 8 permanent PhDs, 10 postdocs and 10 students.
    It's not clear whether anything can be done to mitigate any of these cuts. Congress has, in theory, closed the book on FY 2008. There are a couple of legislative vehicles that could provide opportunities to supplement these poor funding levels, but the likelihood that they will be used that way is pretty slim.

    The first is in the economic stimulus package that will be passed shortly by the Congress in an effort to provide some relief for U.S. taxpayers and get them spending money in this slowing economy. While the House is not likely to include any funding for science as part of a stimulus, there's a teeny-tiny chance that the Senate might give it a run. But even though the amount of the shortfall for science represents a very small portion of the proposed stimulus package -- $900 million versus $150 billion -- there are not likely to be too many in the House or the Administration who would be willing to support any additions beyond their original proposal. So, the odds for this route are, well, beyond slim.

    The second is in the emergency supplemental appropriations bill that will have to be considered in the next few months to pay for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Emergency supplemental bills have frequently been looked to in the past as a good place to stash a bit of extra funding for favored projects, provided you can make the case (however tenuous) that the funding is going for some sort of "emergency" use. Given the number of jobs lost at federal research facilities, and the fact that U.S. participation in some international research efforts (particularly the ITER fusion reactor project) is in jeopardy as a result of the FY 08 omnibus, Congress and the Administration might agree that supplemental funding is actually appropriate and include it in the supplemental appropriations bill. So, while this is unlikely to mitigate the whole of the shortfall, it's not inconceivable that Congress could include $100-300 million, particularly for DOE Office of Science, to help mitigate the damage.

    Beyond that, we're looking at trying to make up as much of the difference in the FY 2009 appropriations process. The science community and the high-tech industry are already gearing up for that fight -- with lessons learned from our failures in FY 08. Expect to read much more about how that effort moves forwards in the coming weeks....

    January 20, 2008

    Craig Barrett's Upset About the Omnibus (and who can blame him?)

    Craig Barrett, Chairman of Intel, comes out swinging over the debacle that was the FY 08 Omnibus Appropriations Act and it's impact on federal support for the physical sciences, computing, mathematics and engineering, in a piece that runs today in the San Francisco Chronicle (which should get Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) attention). The whole piece is well-worth reading, but I thought his conclusion was remarkably on point:

    The United States stands at a pivotal point in our history. Competition is heating up around the world with millions of industrious, highly educated workers who are willing to compete at salaries far below those paid here. The only way we can hope to compete is with brains and ideas that set us above the competition - and that only comes from investments in education and R&D. Practically everyone who has traveled outside the United States in the last decade has seen this dynamic at work. The only place where it is apparently still a deep, dark secret is in Washington, D.C.

    What are they thinking? When will they wake up? It may already be too late; but I genuinely think the citizenry of this country wants the United States to compete. If only our elected leaders weren't holding us back.


    January 15, 2008

    NSB Releases 2008 S&E Indicators

    The National Science Board released the 2008 Science and Engineering Indicators today at an event on Capitol Hill. Board Chair Steven Beering, Subcommittee Chair Louis Lanzerotti, and Arthur Reilly presented the Science and Engineering Indicators, the Digest of Key S&E Indicators, and a companion policy recommendation document, Research and Development: Essential Foundation for US Competitiveness in a Global Economy. Dr. Arden Bement and Dr. Kathie Olsen also attended the event and participated in the Q&A session at the end.

    While the entire document can be found online, the event highlighted some specific findings of the 2008 S&E Indicators, including:

    • world science and engineering activities are shifting from the US and Europe, the traditional leaders, to Asia.
    • US share of high tech manufacturing has stayed above 30 percent over the last twenty years
    • Two-thirds of US R&D funding comes from industry and only 28 percent is from the federal government
    • 2007 had a major downward curve in constant dollars of federal support for academic research
    • Defense research, mostly development, accounts for over half of all federal R&D
    • China’s PhD attainment is on a steep up curve but is still significantly below the US
    • There has been an increase in S&E bachelors degrees in the US in all fields EXCEPT computing
    • Most foreign born PhD candidates in the US plan to stay in the US
    • 80 percent of the public supports federal funding of basic research and 40 percent believe there is too little federal funding of basic research

    The policy companion piece includes three broad recommendations. They are:

    • The federal government should take action to enhance the level of funding for, and the transformational nature of, basic research
    • Industry, government, the academic sector, and professional organizations should take action to encourage greater intellectual interchange between industry and academia. Industry researchers should also be encouraged to participate as authors and reviewers for articles in open, peer-reviewed publications.
    • New data are critically needed to track the implications for the US economy of the globalization of manufacturing and services in high technology industries, and this need should be addressed expeditiously by relevant federal agencies.

    During the Q&A, Bement said that investment in basic research drives the economy and that it is not just dollars but also talent. In response to a question about why students would go into science and engineering instead of fields with better job prospects, Olsen said that the data found that demand for science and engineering majors in industry is increasing but students don’t realize the options that are out there for a science or engineering degree.

    January 03, 2008

    The Long Nose of Innovation

    There's an interesting piece running now in BusinessWeek by Microsoft Researcher Bill Buxton that capitalizes on the buzz around the concept of the "long tail" in business by arguing that there's an equally important "long nose" in business innovation that represents the long period of research and development that's required to bring innovative products to market. Here's a snip:

    My belief is there is a mirror-image of the long tail that is equally important to those wanting to understand the process of innovation. It states that the bulk of innovation behind the latest "wow" moment (multi-touch on the iPhone, for example) is also low-amplitude and takes place over a long period—but well before the "new" idea has become generally known, much less reached the tipping point. It is what I call The Long Nose of Innovation.
    It's a great article and certainly worth reading in full.

    In the piece, he mentions a chart Butler Lampson presented to the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council that traced the history of a number of key technologies. That's this chart (frequently referred to as the "tire tracks" chart, for reasons that should be apparent). The chart originally appeared in a 1995 CSTB report, in which the CSTB had identified 9 billion-dollar sectors in the IT economy that bore the stamp of federally-supported research. They revised the chart in 2003 and identified 10 more sectors. I'm guessing that if they revised it again today (and I understand they are), you could at add least three more billion-dollar sectors -- "Search," "Social Networks," and "Digital Video" -- all enabled in some way by long-term research, usually supported by the federal government ... exactly the type of long-term research that got hit hardest in this year's appropriations debacle.

    (Ed Lazowska's testimony before the House Government Reform committee in 2004 contains an extended riff on the chart -- how it shows the complex interplay between federally-supported university-based research and industrial R&D efforts; how industry based R&D is a fundamentally different character than university-based R&D; how the chart illustrates how interdependent the IT R&D ecosystem really is; and how university-based research produces not just ideas, but people, too. It's all under the section titled "The Ecosystem that Gives Birth to New Technologies," though the whole testimony is certainly worth a read, too.)

    December 18, 2007

    More On the Awful Omnibus

    Cameron Wilson at USACM's Technology Policy Blog has a great dissection of the FY2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill in which Congress managed to reverse two years worth of positive efforts in science and innovation funding policy. His piece is titled "Congress Abandons Commitment to Basic Research; Puts NIST in the Construction Business" and it's a must read.

    Also, the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation (of which CRA is a member) released a statement today expressing grave disappointment in the appropriations outcome. Since it's not yet posted on the Task Force website, I'll quote it here:

    The FY08 omnibus appropriations bill that Congress is considering represents a step backwards for the bipartisan innovation agenda. The President and Congress, for all their stated support this year for making basic research in the physical sciences and engineering a top budget priority ended up essentially cutting, or flat-funding, key science agencies after accounting for inflation.

    The nations that seek to challenge our global leadership in science and innovation should be greatly encouraged by this legislation.

    The President and a near-unanimous Congress, by enacting the America COMPETES Act earlier this year, laid out a bold path toward revitalizing basic research in the physical sciences and engineering. COMPETES was a welcome Congressional initiative to double funding for America’s science research programs and expand science education that complemented the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda.

    This appropriations legislation takes a step back from the promises contained in all of these initiatives.

    The Task Force on the Future of American Innovation is hopeful that this reversal of direction does not represent a lack of commitment to turning around the nation’s long decline in support for basic research programs. For now, the failure to provide the funding required to begin growing these programs makes these promises little more than empty gestures. We intend to work with the Administration and Congress in the new year to make the promise of America COMPETES a reality.

    Strong words from an organization consisting of some of the most important technology companies and organizations on the planet.

    Finally, it's worth pointing out some interesting statistics. Late last summer, 367 members of the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 2272, The America COMPETES Act, which we celebrated and covered in great detail. It was an unequivocal demonstration of support for strengthening the federal investment in basic research in the physical sciences, computing, mathematics and engineering and the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Of those 367 members who voted for the COMPETES Act, 244 voted for this omnibus bill -- a bill which represents a nearly 180 degree reversal from the goals of COMPETES. 206 Democrats, 38 Republicans.

    Now there were clearly other possible reasons for voting for the omnibus, including a deluge of earmarks in the bill. But the fact remains that support for science ceased to be a priority for those 244 members -- including quite a few who probably should have had science ranked high on their personal lists. As we now start to think about the FY 09 appropriations process, certainly it will be worth checking in with those members to understand the dissonance in their positions. (See the extended entry for the full list....)

    Democratic House Members Who Voted for Both the COMPETES Act and the Omnibus

    Bishop (GA)
    Bishop (NY)
    Boyda (KS)
    Brady (PA)
    Braley (IA)
    Brown, Corrine
    Davis (AL)
    Davis (CA)
    Davis (IL)
    Davis, Lincoln
    Frank (MA)
    Green, Al
    Green, Gene
    Hall (NY)
    Herseth Sandlin
    Jackson (IL)
    Jackson-Lee (TX)
    Johnson (GA)
    Klein (FL)
    Larsen (WA)
    Larson (CT)
    Lewis (GA)
    Lofgren, Zoe
    Mahoney (FL)
    Maloney (NY)
    McCarthy (NY)
    McCollum (MN)
    Meek (FL)
    Meeks (NY)
    Miller (MI)
    Miller (NC)
    Miller, George
    Moore (KS)
    Moore (WI)
    Moran (VA)
    Murphy (CT)
    Murphy, Patrick
    Neal (MA)
    Peterson (MN)
    Price (NC)
    Ryan (OH)
    Sánchez, Linda T.
    Sanchez, Loretta
    Scott (GA)
    Scott (VA)
    Smith (WA)
    Thompson (MS)
    Udall (CO)
    Udall (NM)
    Van Hollen
    Walz (MN)
    Wasserman Schultz
    Welch (VT)
    Wilson (OH)

    Republican House Members Who Voted for Both the COMPETES Act and the Omnibus:
    Davis, Tom
    Diaz-Balart, L.
    Diaz-Balart, M.
    Johnson (IL)
    King (NY)
    Kuhl (NY)
    Smith (NJ)
    Walsh (NY)
    Young (AK)
    Young (FL)

    December 17, 2007

    NSF, NIST Lose Out in Final (?) Omnibus

    Update: (12/17/07 1:30 pm) -- It appears this bill is even worse than we initially thought. It turns out that the 3.3 percent increase for NSF's research accounts ("Research and Related Activities") is artificially inflated by some bookkeeping -- namely the shifting of the EPSCoR program from the Education and Human Resources directorate to R&RA. Taking that shift into account, there's really only $57 million in "new" funding in the R&RA account -- a terribly anemic 1.2 percent increase for the research portion of the only federal agency devoted to supporting basic research. When you factor in inflation, that 1.2 percent really represents a cut -- and a complete reversal of the goals of the ACI, the COMPETES Act, and the innovation plans so touted by the congressional leadership.....

    Original Post: Having gotten a peek at the final details for what will end up in the omnibus appropriations bill the House will consider Tuesday, I'm a bit dismayed at the choices that have been made. (Congressional Quarterly has the details; unfortunately, you'll need a subscription to access them. The House Rules Committee has the text of the agreement online now.)

    Those who have been following the saga that is the FY 08 appropriations process will recall that the total spending in the appropriations bills left unfinished by Congress (which included everything but Defense) exceeded the President's budget request by $23 billion, a figure that brought out the President's veto threat. The Democratic leadership tried to assess that threat by passing a Labor/HHS/Education bill they knew he would veto. When he vetoed it and the Congress failed to override it, it was clear who held the power in the negotiation. So, realizing they didn't have the leverage they needed, the Democratic leadership began to cut back. They attempted to meet the President halfway with an omnibus that proposed an $11 billion cap overrun, but when they couldn't peel off enough GOP members to override any potential veto, they caved completely, agreeing to live within the President's budget cap for all the unfinished appropriations bills.

    Unfortunately for the National Science Foundation and National Institute for Standards and Technology -- two agencies that had been at the focal point of the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda -- living under the cap meant that other programs within the omnibus received higher priorities and the planned increases for those two science agencies were cut sharply.

    NSF, which under the House and Senate appropriations plans approved earlier in the year would have received either a 10 or 11 percent increase (respectively) over FY 07, will instead receive just 2.5 percent vs. FY 07 in the new omnibus. NSF's R&RA account (which funds the research directorates) will see just a 3.3 percent increase over FY 07 (instead of a planned 10.5 percent increase), should the omnibus pass.

    NIST's research efforts, which had been slated to grow over 15 percent vs. FY 07 in the House and Senate bills, will instead see that planned increase drop to just 1.4 percent over FY 07, should the bill pass.

    DOE Office of Science fares a bit better -- and DOE-related computing research comes out even further ahead in the deal. The Office of Science would have grown over 18 percent vs. FY 07 in the earlier House and Senate plans, but the new agreement will reduce that rate of increase to a still-respectable 6.8 percent. Advanced Scientific Computing Research, which had been slated to grow about 20 percent over FY07, would actually see *more* money in the new agreement -- a growth of 25 percent over FY 07. Included in the increase is $19.5 million to "continue the Department's participation in the [DARPA] High Productivity Computing Systems partnership" and an increase of $7.7 million for Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility to "maintain the planned budget and cost schedule."

    The agreement also includes details of an additional effort:

    The Office of Science and the [NNSA] are directed to establish the Institute for Advanced Architectures and Algorithms with Centers of Excellence at Sandia National Labs and [ORNL]. These Centers will execute a national program involving industry, universities and national laboratories that is focused on technologies to sustain the U.S. leadership in high performance computing. The NNSA ASC and Office of Science ASCR programs will jointly fund the program and provide direction needed to support the goal of developing exascale computing for the Nation.
    So, the House is set to begin consideration of the bill Tuesday. The Senate will get it as soon as the House passes it. It's not clear whether the President will sign. There's a core of the House GOP leadership that's still not content with the limited spending in the omnibus. They're leading an effort to push for a "Continuing Resolution" for FY 2008 (funding all agencies at their FY 07 levels) instead of the omnibus as a way of holding an even sharper line on spending. I suppose it's possible that the President could veto the omnibus , and he could cite a lot of reasons -- runaway earmarks, poor prioritization by congressional Democrats, the gutting of ACI -- and the House GOP could force a CR by sustaining the veto. In that case, it would behoove the science advocacy community to push hard for special consideration of ACI-related agencies, as happened under the last CR. And it's not implausible that GOP hard-liners might support it -- after all, the real point of the CR would be to put a hold on earmarks. The science increases are, in fact, in the President's budget.

    But barring that somewhat unlikely chain of events -- Presidential veto -> House GOP uphold veto and force CR -> CR favors ACI-related agencies -- the ACI-related increases we'd hoped for at NSF and NIST appear to be lost. It's hard not look for those to blame. The Democratic leadership is certainly open to some criticism for these numbers. When push came to shove and they were forced to live within the President's budget constraints, the leadership didn't feel that preserving the increases for science funding rose to a high enough priority in the face of other increases for programs and earmarks elsewhere in the omnibus. At the same time, the inability to put together appropriations bills that could garner enough support to pass with sufficient support isn't unique to their leadership. You'll recall the FY 07 appropriations process, managed by the GOP, also melted down in spectacular fashion.

    In any case, this is a very disappointing development. Failing to get this bipartisan priority (President's ACI, Democratic Innovation Agenda) funded -- essentially abandoning science when it counted -- only puts at risk our long-term competitiveness. It's especially disappointing when one considers how many voices from all sides of the political spectrum have weighed in in support bolstering federal science funding, when the Administration has seen fit to make it a Presidential priority, and when Congress has emphasized its commitment with the passage of a landmark competitiveness bill in overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion.

    So, it's hard to imagine what else can be done. The debate over funding for FY 08 is much much larger than science funding. The issues that led to the meltdown are heavily political and have considerations that outweigh anything the science community could bring to the table. But, this is certainly a step back, I think, from science's standing in the Congress at the beginning of this year, when it was granted special status in the CR for FY 07.

    Though it certainly gives us a rallying cry for FY 09.

    We'll have more details as the omnibus moves forward and a final breakdown of the agency-by-agency numbers when they're passed.

    November 28, 2007

    Cyber Enabled Discovery and Innovation Web Cast

    As NSF’s Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI) program heads toward its first deadline, the program staff will be launching a web cast on how to take advantage of this new cross-cutting funding initiative. The web cast will be held live on Thursday, November 29 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and program managers will be taking questions after a presentation on the program.

    CDI is a five year initiative to fund research that uses computational thinking across all disciplines. The program includes all NSF Directorates and is focused on three theme areas: From Data to Knowledge; Understanding Complexity in Natural, Built, and Social Systems; and Building Virtual Organizations. The first deadline for letters of intent is November 30 and the first proposal deadline is January 8, 2008.

    Posted by MelissaNorr at 11:05 AM
    Posted to Events | Funding | Research

    November 19, 2007

    FY 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill Passed

    On Tuesday (Nov. 13th), the President signed the FY 2008 Defense Appropriations conference report, making that bill the first of the twelve FY 08 appropriations bills necessary to fund the continued operation of government to grind its way through to passage (it's now P.L. 110-116). The Defense bill includes just over $77 billion in funding for Defense Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDT&E), an increase of 2.0 percent over FY 07 and 2.9 percent above the President's requested level for FY 08. Included within that RDT&E account are pretty substantial increases over the President's request for basic and applied research efforts in some areas of interest to the computing community -- and more modest growth in others. At the same time, overall funding for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), will see a decline in FY 08 vs both the President's request and the FY 07 level.

    We've whipped up a handy chart to show some of the detail for selected basic (6.1) and applied (6.2) research accounts. While the chart tells much of the story, it doesn't explain everything going on with funding. For that, your best bet is to take a look at the conference report itself (pdf). The section of interest is "Title IV. Research, Development, Test and Evaluation," that begins on page 243 of the PDF. It details the program level changes to each line item for the Army, Navy, Air Force and "Defense-wide" programs. It's a lot to digest.
    Click to Enlarge
    In general, what our chart above shows is that the research programs of note in the service labs got more than they asked for in FY 08, but that the defense-wide accounts (primarily DARPA) didn't do quite as well. When you compare the funding levels to FY 07, the gains aren't as significant (generally). But there's a bit of a budget game going on here that tends to obfuscate actual gains and losses in each account. [Warning: budget wonkery follows.] As readers of this blog probably already know, the FY 07 level represents the funding level after Congress finished its work on last year's DOD appropriations bill. The FY 07 final number represented an increase in most accounts over the President's budget request for FY 07. The Administration labels most of those increases "earmarks," especially if those increases are targeted to very specific programs or performers. When the President prepares his budget request for the next year (in this case, FY 08), he strips out as many of those "earmarks" as he can justify. This is why the defense request always seems like a cut compared to final enacted level for the previous year. As the request works its way through the appropriations process, the cycle repeats and much of that funding gets added back in by Congress, making it appear that there are increases in those accounts. And indeed there's just that many of those increases probably are earmarks for very specific programs or performers.

    So, while these increases look pretty healthy when compared to the President's budget request (shorn of earmarks, as it was) -- and we certainly like to see more money in these accounts -- ideally, we'd like to see those increases in the form of additional money for competitive, merit-based research funding. At this point, it's tough to tell how much of these increases fit that description, at least in the 6.2 accounts. In the 6.1 accounts, it's reasonable to assume that much of the increases found in the bill represent additional competitive funding.

    One change to the appropriations bills this year has made it a bit easier to see who to credit for some of the increases to defense basic research accounts. New rules on transparency in the Senate mean that every change to the budget estimate called for in the bill gets credited to someone, so you can see who requested it in the Senate committee report. So, for example, we know that we owe thanks for the non-earmarked increases to the University Research Initiatives in the bill to Sens. Bayh (D-IN), Clinton (D-NY), Collins (R-ME), Johnson (D-SD), Kennedy (D-MA), Kerry (D-MA), Levin (D-MI), Leiberman (D-CT), Pryor (D-AR) and Stabenow (D-MI). Hopefully the House Appropriations Committee will follow through with "Requested by" language in their future bills. [end of budget wonkery]

    Two accounts that don't seem to fare particularly well in the bill are DARPA IT accounts -- the Defense-wide Information and Communications Technology program (which will see a decline of 1.3 percent, about $3 million, vs. FY 07) and Cognitive Computing (which will see a decline of about 2.7 percent, or $4.9 million) in FY 08. As you can see in the chart, compared to the President's budget request, ICT will increase slightly (0.9 percent, or $2.1 million), and Cognitive Computing will decline slightly (2.2 percent, or $3.9 million). Much of the reason for this decline is attributed to an "execution adjustment" by the appropriations committees. In other words, DARPA wasn't spending the money it had previously been appropriated in a timely enough fashion, so the appropriators adopted a "use it or lose it" mindset and "reclaimed" that money for other accounts in the bill.

    This is the same reasoning for much of the overall cut to DARPA in the bill. DARPA will see a decrease of $135 million vs. FY 07, or about 4.3 percent less in FY 08. Compared to the President's request for FY 08, the agency will see a $106 million cut, or 3.4 percent. The appropriators and the DARPA leadership are of two minds on the reasons for slow spend-out rate for some DARPA programs. The DARPA leadership contends it's acting as a good steward of taxpayer dollars, only paying grant-recipients when key milestones are met. However, the appropriators (and some on the Armed Services Committees, as well), contend that what's really happening is a bottleneck in the Director's office -- that micromanagement of programs is slowing execution. Regardless of the actual cause, the fact remains that DARPA isn't spending all the money it's been appropriated and so the appropriators -- who control the purse strings -- have adjusted DARPA's budget accordingly.

    With the Defense bill finished, Congress is left with 11 bills to complete before closing the book on FY 2008. Only one other bill, the Labor/HHS/Ed appropriations, has been sent to the President, and it was promptly vetoed (a veto subsequently upheld, just barely, in the House). The Labor/HHS/Ed bill, which includes funding for the National Insitutes of Health and the Department of Education, came in about $9.8 billion over the President's desired "cap" for the bill, earning his veto, and Congressional Democrats weren't able to entice enough Republican members to vote to override (they fell 2 votes short in the House). The Democratic leadership figures to attempt to meet the President "halfway" with an omnibus package of unfinished bills before the year's end, but it's not clear whether they'll get sufficient Republican support to force a compromise. It's also not clear what a "halfway" package might mean for the hard-won gains for science contained in some of the unfinished bills, including the Commerce, Science, Justice bill (House / Senate).

    Congress has until December 14th before it will have to pass yet another stopgap spending bill to keep the government operating (the Defense Approps bill included a "continuing resolution" to keep government operating without additional appropriations through Dec 14th -- the FY 08 fiscal year began Oct 1, 2007.) Whether they manage a compromise by then is anyone's guess, but the consensus around town is a deal is likely by Christmas. And when it happens, we'll have all the detail here.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 02:14 PM
    Posted to FY08 Appropriations | Funding | Policy

    November 05, 2007

    The Chronicle on Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation

    Questions about NSF's new $52 million Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation initiative? The Chronicle of Higher Education is hosting a "Brown Bag" discussion on the topic with CDI program director Sirin Tekinay on Thursday, November 8th, at noon ET. You can submit your questions now and Sirin will join the discussion on Thursday with answers.

    As we've mentioned previously, the CDI initiative is a cross-Foundation initiative aimed at "[broadening] the Nation's capability for innovation by developing a new generation of computationally based discovery concepts and tools to deal with complex, data-rich and interacting systems." The $52 million initiative* will be led by CISE (which will control about $20 million), with participation from Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science, Social, Behavioral and Economic science, Cyberinfrastructure, International Science, and EHR. NSF hopes to grow the program in successive budget years up to $250 million in 2012, with CISE controlling a proportional share. So this is potentially a very big deal.

    Tune in to the chat on Thursday and learn more!

    * NSF requested $52 million for the program in FY 08, and Congressional appropriators have included full funding for the program in their as-yet-unpassed appropriations bills. However, the Chronicle describes CDI as a $26 million program and I'm not sure where that number came from. In any case, the final total for FY 08 won't be known until Congress and the President sort out the mess that FY 08 appropriations has become....

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 09:35 AM
    Posted to FY08 Appropriations | Funding | R&D in the Press | Research

    October 05, 2007

    Senate CJS Approps Considered, Veto Threat Issued

    The Senate began consideration of the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriation bill yesterday but put off further consideration of the bill until October 15. Despite the delay, President Bush has released a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) stating -- no surprise -- he will veto the bill if it is passed at the current funding levels.

    The bill includes $5.156 billion for NSF’s Research and Related Activities including $52 million for the Cyber Enabled Discovery and Innovation program, $244.6 million for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction, and $850.6 million for Education and Human Resources Directorate - a $100 million increase over the President’s request. During consideration, an amendment adding $1 billion to the funding of NASA was passed, bringing NASA’s total to $18.5 billion within the bill. The bill includes $863 million for NIST including $110 million for the Manufacturing Extension Programs (MEP) and $100 million for the Advanced Technology Program (ATP).

    The Administration has many concerns with this bill although they mostly are with the Commerce and Justice parts of the bill. The SAP does oppose the increase to NASA and the extra $100 million for NSF’s EHR. The SAP also states opposition to the funding amounts for the MEP and ATP programs, as he has in recent budget years.

    Related posts on this topic can be found here.

    September 24, 2007

    Computerworld on Sputnik, DARPA and Computing

    Computerworld has fantastic coverage of the 50th anniversary of the Sputnik launch (Oct. 4th, 1957) and why, in a sense, we can thank the Soviets for helping create the conditions that led the U.S. to become the technological superpower we've become.

    Computerworld's Gary Anthes' piece "Happy Birthday Sputnik! (Thanks for the Internet)" does a great job of chronicling how the federal government's reaction to the surprising Soviet launch created an agency and a research funding culture that proved so extraordinarily productive that nearly every billion-dollar sub-sector of the IT economy today bears its stamp. In the process, he checks in with a number of important figures from computer science who note that the productive culture within DARPA responsible for much of that early innovation seems to have waned -- and perhaps isn't even possible today.

    Rather than quote snippets from the piece, I'd just encourage you to read all of it -- it's the piece I would've tried to write in honor of Sputnik's 50th if Anthens hadn't (I'm glad he's assuredly better than anything I would've come up with).

    Two other portions of the coverage are worth checking out, too. Computerworld did a pretty good job of simplifying the CSTB's "tire tracks" chart that shows the development of technologies from the initial research in university or industry labs to the time the products that resulted became billion-dollar industries.

    And there's a good interview with former (D)ARPA director Charles M. Herzfeld on the state of IT research now.

    It's all definitely worth a read.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 06:18 PM
    Posted to Funding | People | Policy | R&D in the Press | Research | Security

    September 15, 2007

    DDR&E Asks SECDEF for Lots More S&T Money

    Recognizing that the Pentagon's science and technology investment "may be inadequate to meet the imposing security threats that challenge our Nation and may not be adequately robust to take advantage of key scientific and technological opportunities that offer breakthrough advantages to our warfighters," John Young, the current Director of Defense Research and Engineering, has written a pretty remarkable memo to the Secretary of Defense asking for a substantial increase in funding. In his request, he singles out several "priority science and technology areas," along with about $9.5 billion in suggested increases. IT R&D figures prominently in his "straw man" proposal:

    Foundational Sciences (including computing sciences) -- $300 - $500 M a year increase (he notes that DOD has been "coasting on the basic science investments of the last century" and writes what we've been saying for quite a while: "The DOD must dramatically re-energize and re-invigorate the nation's foremost scientific minds, especially those in early and mid-career, to focus on discovery, innovation, and synthesis in the physical and analytical sciences most crucial to our Nation's security.")
    Information Warfare -- $100-200 M per year increase
    Information Assurance - $100-200 M per year increase
    Networking Technologies -- $40-70 M per year increase
    Organiziation, Fusion, and Mining Large Data Sets -- $40-60M per year increase
    Software Development Technology -- $40-70M per year increase
    Autonomous Operation of Networks of Unmanned Vehicles in Complex Environments -- $100 M per year
    Disparate Sensors, Communication and Spectrum Management -- $500 M per year

    The memo containing the complete list of priorities is available from (subscription required). Overall, Young is proposing about $9.5 billion in increases from FY09-FY13 that would get DOD S&T spending close to 3 percent of the agency's budget (it's at about 2.2 percent right now). While there's no guarantee that the comptroller or the SecDef will give him anywhere close to that amount (though the current SecDef is perhaps more sympathetic to S&T than his predecessor), this sort of stage-setting from the DDR&E is pretty remarkable.

    InsideDefense also has an article (sub. req'd) detailing the memo with some reaction from think-tanky-types, which is also worth reading if you've got a subscription.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 11:15 AM
    Posted to Funding | Policy | Research | Security

    September 12, 2007

    PCAST Report on the Federal Networking and IT R&D Program Released

    The long-awaited follow-up review of the NITRD program -- the first since the 1999 PITAC report Investing in Our Future -- has been released and is available from the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy. It's called Leadership Under Challenge: Information Technology R&D in a Competitive World (pdf). We've discussed in depth a draft version of the report previously, but this final version is far more fleshed out.

    We'll have more after we've had a chance to look at it more thoroughly. But if you don't have time to read the whole thing, you can just check out the back cover, upon which are printed the committee's four overarching recommendations:

    To sustain U.S. leadership, the Federal government should:
  • Address the demand for skilled IT professionals by revamping curricula, increasing fellowships, and simplifying visa processes.
  • Emphasize larger-scale, longer-term, multidisciplinary IT R&D and innovative, higher-risk research
  • Give priority to R&D in IT systems connected with the physical world, software, digital data, and networking
  • Develop and implement strategic and technical plans for the NITRD Program
  • Also check ACM's Technology Policy Blog where Cameron Wilson has more on IT education and workforce coverage in the report.

    Update: (9/14/07) -- PCAST IT Subcommittee Co-Chair (and CRA Chair) Dan Reed, one of the principal authors of Leadership Under Challenge, has posted his take on the new report. Definitely worth a read.


  • PCAST Approves Draft IT R&D Recommendations

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 11:59 AM
    Posted to Funding | People | Policy | Research
  • August 08, 2007

    President Will Sign COMPETES Act, Will Be Law Tomorrow!

    It's done! It's done! By now, I expect that everyone has heard that both the House and Senate have agreed on the conference report for H.R. 2272, The America COMPETES Act and that the measure is headed to the President for his signature.

    Word comes from the White House today that the President will sign the bill in a small signing-ceremony tomorrow with the Members of Congress who were instrumental in moving the bill along. While it's a bit of a bummer that the President isn't making a big "to-do" about this with representatives from industry and academia and lots of press -- it does, after all, enact many portions of his own American Competitiveness Initiative, and it's also an issue that polls really well, a fact you'd think would be important to both a Congress and a President who could use a few good examples of positive, bi-partisan legislation to show off -- the important thing is it's getting signed. After nearly two years of wrangling over this particular set of proposals -- and a lot longer than that to get the Administration and the Congress to understand the import of the problems addressed -- the President will sign the bill and its provisions will be law.

    That deserves some kudos, back-patting, and maybe one or two loud "whoo-hoo's."

    Especially because this bill has a lot of good things in it. As Cameron Wilson points out over on the USACM Technology Policy Blog, the bill takes two basic routes to fostering the innovation the country will require to stay competitive in an increasingly global world. It addresses federal support for research -- both authorizing large amounts of new funding for three key science agencies (National Science Foundation, NIST, and the Department of Energy's Office of Science), setting a target to double the agencies budgets over 7 years, and by creating a new high-risk research agency at the Department of Energy (called the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy, or ARPA-E, in a nod to the DARPA-like character Congress hopes the agency will adopt). And the bill addresses a diversity of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education efforts. For these, I'll simply steal what Cameron has already written:

    The bill authorizes $43.3 billion over the next three fiscal years for STEM education programs across the federal government. The variety is impressive ranging from new k-12 teacher programs to new opportunities for undergraduate and graduate STEM students. Here is a sampling of the proposals:
    • Expands the Robert Noyce program which links students in STEM fields up with education degrees so they can teach STEM in K-12;
    • Authorizes two new competitive grant programs that will enable partnerships to implement courses of study in mathematics, science, engineering, technology or critical foreign languages in ways that lead to a baccalaureate degree with concurrent teacher certification;
    • Authorizes competitive grants to increase the number of teachers serving high-need schools and expand access to AP and IB classes and to increase the number of qualified AP and IB teachers in high-need schools; and,
    • Expands early career grant programs and provides additional support for outstanding young investigators at both NSF and DOE.
    In addition, the legislation has several provisions that expand outreach to women and minorities in STEM fields. The lack of females and minorities has been a key problem in computing, so this is another welcome effort.
    In addition, the bill contains two particular provisions I wanted to highlight because they're of particular interest to the computing community:

    The first is Section 7024, "High-performance Computing and Networking" (if you're following along at home (pdf)) -- the inclusion of the High-Performance Computing Research and Development Act that has been much discussed on these pages since some of the earliest days of this blog. The bill has been proposed in various forms in every session of Congress since the 106th (we're now in the 110th) and has never gained the full approval of the Congress -- almost always for reasons unrelated to the bill. The bill has, in sessions past, been approved by the House only to languish in the Senate due to jurisdictional fights over other bills, approved by the House Science committee only to run afoul of budget disputes with the GOP Leadership, and been held hostage over fights about NASA between the House and Senate. In fact, until the approval of the conference report last week, it was assumed that this version HPC R&D Act might meet a similar fate as word escaped that some of the Senate conferees thought its inclusion might cause some jurisdictional friction between two Senate committees (Energy and Commerce, who both claim HPC jurisdiction). But those problems were resolved, and the bill includes the full House-approved language, plus an extra section that authorizes efforts in "Advanced Information and Communications Technology Research" at NSF, including research on:

    • affordable broadband access, including wireless technologies;
    • network security and reliability;
    • communications interoperability;,
    • networking protocols and architectures, including resilience to outages or attacks;
    • trusted software;
    • privacy;
    • nanoelectronics for communications applicaitons;
    • low-power communications electronics;
    • implementation of equitable access to natinoal advanced fiber optic research and educational networks in noncontiguous States; and
    • other areas the Director [of NSF] finds appropriate.
    The provision also allows NSF to fund multiyear, multidisciplinary "Centers for Communications Research" to "generate innovative approaches to problems in information and communications technology research."

    Otherwise, the HPC R&D Act remains essentially unchanged, which means it includes two provisions we particularly like: it requires the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop and maintain a research, development, and deployment roadmap for the provision of federal high-performance computing systems; and there's now an explicit requirement that the President's advisory committee for IT (now PCAST) review not only the goals of the federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program, but the funding levels as well and report the results of that review to Congress every two years.

    The second noteworthy provision in the COMPETES bill is one (Sec. 7012) that was originally included in the House-passed NSF Authorization Act of 2007 (H.R. 1867), that should help clarify NSF's role in supporting efforts that seek to encourage the participation of women and underrepresented groups in computing, science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As we noted back in March, this is a response to long-standing concerns from CRA and other members of the computing and science communities about NSF's role. Basically, NSF's general policy is to only support efforts that represent novel approaches. Yet, what's often needed in these cases isn't a novel approach, just a sustained one. The House Science and Technology Committee agreed and included language in the NSF Authorization that addresses the issue by allowing the Director of NSF to review such programs one year before their grants expire and issue extensions of up to three years without recompetition to those efforts that appear to be successful at meeting their stated goals. It also emphasizes that the committee believes this sort of effort -- maintaining the strength and vitality of the U.S. science and engineering workforce -- is appropriately part of the agency's mission. So, we're thrilled that the provision survived the conference and will become law with the President's signature tomorrow.

    This is, of course, not the end of innovation efforts in the Congress or the Administration. While this bill sets nice, juicy funding targets for NSF, NIST and DOE Office of Science, it doesn't actually appropriate a single dime, so the focus will continue to be on House and Senate appropriators as they wind their way through the appropriations process later this year. We're still expecting a meltdown in that process, so nothing is guaranteed, despite all the supportive words from Congress and the President. And there will be further efforts to address some of the pieces of the various innovation agendas that aren't represented in H.R. 2272 -- like a permanent extension of the R&D tax credit.

    But for now, I think it's probably appropriate to take a deep breath and savor this win for a day or two. This is a big victory for the science community and a long-time coming for those of us who have been working these issues around the Hill over the better part of the last decade. We commend the President and the Congress for having the vision and the commitment to push ahead on these issues, even when it didn't seem as politically popular as it is today. And we commend the members of the science community for speaking up on these issues, serving on the advisory committees, and partipating in the grassroots efforts to make Congress aware of the issues. Now, just make sure you go out and do world-leading science -- take risks, think audaciously...demonstrate as you've done so well in the past why America needs to continue to be an incubator for invention, discovery, and innovation.

    And keep it tuned here for all the details... :)

    Update: (8/9/07) -- It's official!:

    President George W. Bush signs H.R. 2272, The America Competes Act, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2007, in the Oval Office. Pictured with the President are, from left: Director John Marburger of the Office of Science and Technology Policy; Senator Jeff Bingaman of N.M.; Congressman Bart Gordon of Tenn.; and Senator Pete Domenici of N.M. White House photo by Chris Greenberg

    Update2: (8/10/07) -- Here are the President's comments about the bill and ACI, as well as an OSTP-produced fact sheet.

    July 31, 2007

    Competitiveness Bills Wrapping Up?

    The long effort to address concerns about America's future competitiveness and capacity for innovation may finally result in a bill.

    For the last two years, there's been a fairly constant drumbeat in Congress, the Administration, and federal advisory bodies over the need to prop up the U.S. innovation infrastructure -- by strengthening the federal investment in basic research in the physical sciences (including computing, mathematics and engineering), by investing in new math and science teachers, by increasing the participation of US students in math and science, and by creating new research organizations to help nurture an innovative culture in some federal research agencies. There's been a whole suite of different bills proposed to address these proposals -- many inspired by the National Academies Rising Above the Gathering Storm report, or many of the other similar reports that have come out of the scientific community and American industry over the past several years. Unfortunately, though many of these bills had passed either the House or the Senate last session, none had passed both and gone on to the President.

    But, that could change. As we've noted previously, this suite of competitiveness proposals has coaliesced into two different pieces of legislation, one House bill and one Senate bill -- both essentially omnibus bills that are collections of most of the previous proposals. The Senate passed its version, S. 761 The America COMPETES Act, in May by bundling a whole bunch of proposals together and having the Senate Leader bring the package directly to the Senate floor, bypassing the Senate committee structure (which would've tied things up for months). The House took a more piecemeal approach, passing the "10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds" Science and Math Authorization Act (HR 362), the Sowing the Seeds Through Science and Engineering Act (HR 363), the High Performance Computing Research and Development Act (HR 1068), the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2007 (HR 1867), and the Technology Innovation and Manufacturing Stimulation Act (HR 1868), one-by-one (by overwhelming margins) over the course of several months, then combining them into one giant omnibus bill "The 21st Century Competitiveness Act" (HR 2272), which they passed by voice vote. The plan was to conference HR 2272 and S. 761 and work out a compromise bill both chambers could approve. It appears that negotiation is nearing its end and a final bill may be on its way.

    We just got a notice of a meeting with Speaker Pelosi scheduled for tomorrow at which the House and Senate leadership will discuss the conference agreement. We know that the bills have been exhaustively "pre-conferenced" with the various committee staff over the last couple of weeks. The official conferees -- the Representatives and Senators who were appointed to serve on the conference committee -- will meet tonight to hammer out the final details. So, this time tomorrow we should have a good sense of what made the bill and what didn't.

    We'll have all the details as they are released, of course. There are some provisions in the the House and Senate bills about which the computing research community has had particular interest. More detail on those later. But for now, it's nice to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Congress -- and the Administration -- has spent a lot of time over the last two years talking about the importance of bolstering the chain of innovation that helps keep America a world leader, but they don't have much to show for it. It appears that could change soon.

    Update: (7/30/07 10 pm ET) -- The conference committee has reached agreement on a compromise bill. It's massive -- 470 pages -- but you can poke through it here (pdf) if you're so inclined. We'll have details on the bill in the next day or so, but after a brief look through the bill it's fair to say there's a lot of good news for the community in there -- including the High Performance Computing R&D Act, which has died every previous Congress since the 106th (this is the 110th). So keep it tuned here for more detail....

    July 28, 2007

    President's Remarks on Research and Innovation

    President Bush yesterday presented awards to the 2005 and 2006 National Medal of Science and Technology Recipients, and in his remarks reiterated his support for a strong federal role in support of fundamental research. There's no guarantee, of course, that the President's strong support now will help alleviate the coming appropriations meltdown (that could threaten science funding gains), but at least it appears that his heart is in the right place. The full remarks are here, but I thought I'd just highlight a bit of them:

    The work of these Laureates demonstrates that innovation is vital to a better future for our country and the world. In America, the primary engine of innovation is the private sector. But government can help by encouraging the basic research that gives rise to promising new thought and products. So that's why I've worked with some in this room and around our country to develop and propose the American Competitiveness Initiative. Over ten years, this initiative will double the federal government's commitment to the most critical, basic research programs in physical sciences. Last year the Congress provided more than $10 billion, and that's just a start. And I call on leaders of both political parties to fully fund this initiative for the good of the country.

    Maintaining our global leadership also requires a first-class education system. There are many things that American schools are doing right -- including insisting on accountability for every single child. There are also some areas where we need to improve. And so as members work to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act, one of their top priorities has got to be to strengthen math and science education.

    One way to do that is to create an "adjunct teachers corps" of math and science professionals all aiming to bring their expertise into American classrooms. It's not really what the aim is -- the aim is to make it clear to young Americans that being in science and engineering is okay; it's cool; it's a smart thing to do. And so for those of you who are involved with inspiring youngsters, thank you for what you're doing. I appreciate you encouraging the next generation to follow in your footsteps. And I ask that Congress fully fund the adjunct teacher corps, so you can have some help as you go out to inspire.

    One of the many reasons that I am an optimistic fellow, and I am, is because I understand that this country is a nation of discovery and enterprise. And that spirit is really strong in America today. I found it interesting that one of today's Laureates, Dr. Leslie Geddes, is 86 years old and continues to teach and conduct research at Purdue University. Even more interesting is what he had to say. He said, "I wouldn't know what else to do. I'm not done yet." (Laughter.)

    He's right. He's not done yet, because the promise of science and technology never runs out. With the imagination and determinations of Americans like our awardees today, our nation will continue to discover new possibilities and to develop new innovations, and build a better life for generations to come. And that's what we're here to celebrate.

    More on the awards, including links to pictures of each awardee receiving their medal, is here.

    July 25, 2007

    Appropriations Update -- FY 08 Defense Approps and Commerce, Justice, Science

    Two developments of note today in the annual appropriations cycle. First, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense will mark up its version of the FY 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill, which includes research funding for the various service and defense-wide accounts. We've gotten our first look at the funding levels for the Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation title of the bill in the Chairman's mark, and they look pretty good for most of the accounts the computing research community might care about. In general, defense basic research accounts (6.1) are up vs. the President's request, as are most of the computing-related applied research accounts (6.2). The remainder are funded at the President's request.

    DARPA does suffer an overall cut in the bill, however, related to the fact that the committee continues to have concerns with the rate of spending at the agency. DARPA has been slow to execute programs for which it has been appropriated money either because a) the agency has been a careful steward of taxpayer dollars or b) because programs have become bottlenecked in the Director's office, depending on whether you believe the agency's explanation or the feeling among some congressional committee staff. As a result the committee reduced funding in the Biological Warfare, Electronics Technology, Advanced Aerospace Systems and Land Warfare Technology program elements. As a result of this spend-it-or-lose-it DC culture, the cuts would cause DARPA to lose $80 million vs. FY 2007, a reduction of 2.6 percent.

    For a more-detailed look at the different accounts, take a gander at the table included in the jump. (Click on the "Continue Reading" link below). We'll update the table as we get additional detail.

    Keep in mind, however, that these numbers are just a first step. The committee needs to approve them, then the whole House, then the Senate needs to approve its version, then a compromise version between the chambers, and then, after all that, it's likely that the President will veto the bill for being too generous. (More on that below....) So, consider these numbers a starting point in the inevitable negotiation that will occur between both the Senate and the President. But, it's a good place to start.

    Speaking of vetoes, the Administration also issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) yesterday on the FY 2008 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill that the House will begin debating today, indicating that the President intends to veto the bill should the version the House will likely approve land on his desk. The CJS Appropriations bill, as we've discussed previously, contains funding for some science agencies we care about -- in particular, the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards and Technology (as well as NASA and NOAA). The bill includes healthy increases for both NSF and NIST, in line with both the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda.

    Despite issuing the veto threat, the President does commend the bill for its support of NSF and NIST's research accounts, but takes issue with increases the House Appropriations Committee provided for NSF's Education and Human Resources directorate beyond his request. The SAP also criticizes excessive earmarking in the bill and bluntly states that because the HAC failed to demonstrate offsets for the increased spending, he will veto the bill if presented to him.

    This is not terribly surprising. Facing a Democratically-controlled Congress for the first time, it was likely that the President would be drawn into a political fight over spending, and his only leverage in that fight is the veto. While Congress chugs away at passing the 12 annual appropriations bills necessary to fund the operations of government, its unlikely many (if any) will pass with the majority required to override any potential presidential veto. Indeed, in the House, the "magic number" for the President is 145 -- he needs just 145 out of 201 Republican members of the House to sustain any veto and provide him significant leverage in the spending negotiations that will follow. So far, none of the bills passed so far (Interior, Homeland Security, State-Foreign Operations) have had "veto-proof" majorities, so the President has retained his leverage.

    It's likely the appropriations process is again headed for a train-wreck, just as in previous years. The final form of this particular train-wreck isn't yet known, but I tend to agree with others who expect that the end game will involve another omnibus appropriations bill in which, despite strong support for science programs in Congress and by the President, those programs will be threatened by across-the-board cuts required to get spending down to a level that the President will sign. The focus, then, of many of us in the science advocacy community once again will be on protecting the increases for science agencies approved by Congress and supported by the President in a bill in which they are just one of hundreds, if not thousands, of competing programs. The good news is that we've had some success with this approach in the past....

    But for now, the funding levels included in both the Defense Appropriations and Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations are powerful symbols of the support R&D issues have in Congress, even if its likely that those levels might get modified in the coming months for reasons mostly unrelated to Congress' support of science.

    We'll, of course, have all the details here as they emerge.

    FY 2007 FY 2008 req FY 08 HAC-D FY 08 SAC-D HAC-D
    vs. 2007
    % vs 2007
    vs. 2008 req
    % vs 2008 req
    Defense RDT&E 75,721,604 75,117,194 76,229,140 507,536 0.7% 1,111,946 1.5%
    Army-BR In-House Lab Research 19,266 19,266 0 0.0%
    Army - Defense Research Sciences 137,676 161,176 23,500 17.1%
    Army - URI 64,843 76,743 11,900 18.4%
    Army - University and Industry Research Cen 84,034 96,784 12,750 15.2%
    Army 6.2 - Command Control Communications 22,215 38,465 16,250 73.1%
    Army 6.2 - Computer and Software Tech 5,368 11,368 6,000 111.8%
    Navy - URI 76,637 93,137 16,500 21.5%
    Navy - In-House Lab Independent Research 16,556 16,556 0 0.0%
    Navy - Defense Research Sciences 374,052 380,052 6,000 1.6%
    AF - Defense Research Sciences 256,259 265,759 9,500 3.7%
    AF - URI 104,304 104,304 0 0.0%
    AF - High Energy Laser Research Initiatives 12,636 12,636 0 0.0%
    AF 6.2 - Command Control and Communications 116,705 125,105 8,400 7.2%
    DefWide - DTRA Uni Strategic Partnership 5,000 8,000 3,000 60.0%
    DefWide - Defense Research Sciences 0 9,800 9,800
    DefWide - GICUR 0 5,000 5,000
    DefWide - Nat Def Ed Program 44,372 44,372 0 0.0%
    DefWide 6.2 - Info and Communications Tech 229,739 235,139 5,400 2.4%
    DefWide 6.2 - Cognitive Computing 179,728 179,728 0 0.0%
    DARPA 3,115,310 3,085,617 3,035,222 -80,088 -2.6% -50,395 -1.6%

    July 16, 2007

    CISE Awards Distinguished Education Fellow Grants

    NSF’s CISE Directorate awarded the first two Distinguished Education Fellow grants today to Dr. Owen Astrachan and Dr. Peter Denning. The awards are part of the CISE Pathways to Revitalized Undergraduate Computing Education (CPATH) program that CISE began last year.

    New CISE Assistant Director Jeannette Wing said that CISE supports the revitalization of undergraduate education in computer science because the community needs to show that computing is about more than programming or a machine in order to attract the best minds to the field.

    Astrachan, of Duke University, received his grant to explore case-based approaches to teaching computer science. Denning, of the Naval Postgraduate School, received his grant to focus on defining the principles of computer science and to distill the principles into modules that can be used in teaching.

    Both awards are $250,000 grants over 2 years.

    Posted by MelissaNorr at 02:21 PM
    Posted to Funding | People | Research

    July 02, 2007

    CRA at CNSF Exhibit on Hill

    CRA participated once again in the Coalition for National Science Funding's annual Science Exposition on Capitol Hill last week and it was a great success. The event, a science fair for Congress and staff, had 35 booths manned by researchers representing universities and scientific societies featuring some of the important research funded by the National Science Foundation. This year CRA was ably represented by Lydia Kavraki, a computer science professor from Rice University, whose research into using computational tools to solve problems in a range of areas such as biology was a hit with all those who stopped at the booth.

    6.jpg The exhibit drew a record crowd with 493 attendees, 11 of whom were members of Congress such as Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL) who stopped to talk to Dr. Kavraki about her work. There were also a number of NSF staff members and a large contingent of Congressional staff, particularly from the House Science and Technology Committee.

    As we’ve stated before in this space, personal visits to members of Congress and their staff are vital to getting the message about the importance of computing research out. CRA holds or participates in Congressional visit days several times throughout the year and we are always looking for participants. If you are interested in coming to Washington to visit your Representative and Senators, please contact Melissa Norr at mnorr at

    Posted by MelissaNorr at 03:22 PM
    Posted to CRA | Events | Funding | People | Research

    June 27, 2007

    First Senate Appropriations Numbers

    The Senate Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations subcommittee and the Senate Energy and Water Development appropriations subcommittee marked up their appropriations bills and, as with the House versions, it appears the science agencies did very well. We don't yet have all the details, but here are the early numbers:

    NSF received a total appropriation of $6.6 billion from the subcommittee -- about $200 million more than the President’s request, $100 million more than the House subcommittee allocation, and about $700 million more than the agency received in FY 07.

    NIST received $712 million, $71 million more than the President’s request and $33 million more than FY07 but $66 million less than the House subcommittee allocation. We don't know how much of that increase goes to the NIST core research budget, however.

    The Department of Energy’s Office of Science received $4.497 billion, almost $100 million above the President’s request and $700 million over FY07 but $17 million less than the House allocation.

    All the usual caveats about appropriations bills apply here -- we don't have the details, no funding is certain until the bill becomes law with the President's signature, these numbers can change dramatically if the process melts down over an earmark dispute or a veto threat, etc -- but it's again a very positive sign that both the House and the Senate appear committed to the increases called for in both the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda. We'll keep you posted as the bills move forward.

    June 15, 2007

    Senate Budget Numbers

    The Senate Appropriations committee released their "302(b) allocations" and it looks like science does very well. We previously discussed the House 302(b)'s here and the Senate's numbers look as good, or better, than the House numbers.

    The Senate Commerce, Justice, Science subcommittee received $54.4 billion, $1 billion more than the House allocation and more than $4 billion more than FY07. The Energy and Water subcommittee received an increase of $1.9 billion over FY07, a $600 million more than the House allocated for this year.

    The Labor/HHS/Education subcommittee received a $4.7 billion increase, the only subcommittee allocation to be lower than the House allocation but still an increase of almost $9 billion more than the President's request.

    As we've stated here before, these allocations don't guarantee that the funding will keep Congress on the path to doubling the budgets of NSF, NIST, and DOE Office of Science over the next 10 years, as planned. But if the House's appropriations committee bills are any indication, that is where we are heading. Of course, given the disparity between some of the allocations, there will probably be some compromises worked out in conference but even if we get the lower numbers allocated for each subcommittee, we'll still be in a good position with increased funding in all our areas.

    A bigger concern at the moment is whether the appropriations process is going to continue to move or if it's headed for meltdown over the disposition of earmarks in some upcoming bills. At the moment, House Republicans and Democrats have reached a tentative truce that will keep the bills moving, but it wouldn't take much for the process to break down again. At issue is a Democratic plan to bring appropriations bills to the House floor without earmarks included, then add them in conference with the Senate. House leaders argue that appropriations staff haven't yet had time to review the 32,000 requests for earmarks (keep in mind, there are only 435 members of Congress...that's an average of 74 requests per member), so rather than delay the bills, they want them to move and they'll add the earmarks later. House Republicans argue that the plan hardly promotes transparency in the earmarking process and were using procedural motions to tie up the bills until the Dems agreed to allow the House to vote on the bills with earmarks present -- though not in all of the bills. The House this week should finish work on the Homeland Security and Military Construction appropriations bills, and those will not see their earmarks added until the conference. The Energy and Water appropriation also will not have earmarks in it when it reaches the floor, but will get a pack of earmarks added to it before it heads over to the Senate. If the deal holds, the remainder of the appropriations bills will have earmarks included when the bills hit the House floor (and therefore, subject to amendment). We'll have all the details as the bills begin to move.

    June 12, 2007

    Initial NSF Approps Numbers

    The Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations subcommittee marked up their portion of the appropriations bills yesterday evening. The full Appropriations Committee will mark up the bill on Monday, June 18. NSF did very well with a total appropriation of $6.509 billion, an increase of 10 percent over FY07 and $80 million more than the President requested.

    Research and Related Activities got $5.14 billion in the subcommittee markup—7.9 percent over FY07 and $8 million more than the President’s request (but that $8 million is apparently going to the EPSCoR program, which the committee has apparently moved into R&RA from Education and Human Resources). Education and Human Resources received $822.6 million or 17.9 percent over FY07 and $72 million over the request for FY08. Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction received $244.7 million, the level that the President requested and 28.2 percent more than FY07.

    No details were provided for the various programs within each account but we’ll know more as the process moves forward through the House and when the Senate takes it up and we’ll keep you updated here.

    May 31, 2007

    House Appropriations Allocations Are Out

    The so-called "302(b) allocations" for the House Appropriations committee have been released and they look very positive for those of us anxious to see whether Congress will continue its commitment to double the budgets of some key federal science agencies. The 302(b)'s are the allocations each of the subcommittees responsible for producing the 12 appropriations bills necessary to keep the federal government operating each year gets to spend on their particular bill. If the Budget Resolution determined the overall size of the federal discretionary spending "pie," the 302(b) allocations determine the size of each slice.

    For FY 2008, the subcommittees that have jurisdiction over some of the science agencies we care about -- NSF, NIST, DOE Sci, NIH, NASA, and DOD -- have each gotten pretty reasonable-sized slices. The House Commerce, Science, Justice subcommittee, which determines funding for NSF, NIST, NASA and NOAA, received from the Congressional leadership a bump of $3 billion to their allocation compared with last year -- $53.35 billion for FY 08 vs. $50.34 for FY 07 -- a level $2.11 billion higher than the President requested for FY 08.

    The Energy and Water Committee received a $1.30 billion bump -- enough to support a healthy increase to the Department of Energy's Office of Science in the first FY 08 appropriations bill to get marked up, as we reported previously. The Labor/HHS/Education committee, which funds NIH, received a $5.53 billion bump -- more than $9 billion higher than the Administration requested for FY 08.

    While these increases don't guarantee the appropriators will continue Congress' commitment to doubling the budgets of NSF, NIST and DOE Sci, as called for in both the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda, it certainly does make the job of finding money to fund the increases a whole lot easier. We'll keep an eye on the process and let you know how it goes. So far, so good.

    May 24, 2007

    First FY08 Approps Numbers: DOE Office of Science Does Well

    The Department of Energy's Office of Science would see significant increases under the FY 2008 House Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill marked up by the E&W Approps Subcommittee yesterday. Though we don't yet have all the detail about increases in individual accounts, we do know that the Office of Science would see an overall increase to $4.516 billion in FY 2008, which is $120 million above the President's request for FY 2008 and $719 million above the FY 2007 level, or an increase of 18.9 percent.

    Presumably the increases in DOE Science will be spread reasonably equitably throughout the agency, which would mean the agency's Advanced Scientific Computing Research program should see an equally significant increase in FY 08. But we won't see real detail until the full appropriations committee marks up the bill in June.

    For now, it's good to know that the appropriators appear prepared to continue their commitment to doubling the budgets of key federal science agencies, as spelled out in the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda. Next up should be the House version of the Commerce, Science, Justice appropriations, which will include funding for the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We'll have all the details as we get 'em...

  • Link to E&W Appropriations Chair Peter Visclosky's (D-IN) statement on the markup (pdf). (Doesn't say much about the research portion of the bill, however.)

  • May 21, 2007

    BBN Wins Bid to Run GENI Program Office

    The National Science Foundation today announced it has selected BBN Technologies to create and run the project office for its proposed Global Environment for Networking Innovations (GENI) research facility. BBN, which won the original government contract to build the ARPANET in 1969, will manage the planning and design of the GENI network facility, in consultation with the research community and the GENI Science Council.

    GENI is conceived as a large-scale research instrument to test and mature a wide range of research ideas in data communications and distributed systems. While GENI itself isn't a replacement for the current Internet (or any other communications technology), it is designed to create an environment within which researchers can pursue ideas and develop technologies that might lead to an Internet fundamentally better than the current one.

    Initially, the job of the GENI Program Office (GPO) will be to develop detailed engineering plans and costs for the facility. NSF's original solicitation for the GPO estimated a budget of up to $12.5 million a year for four years ($2.5 million a year for administrative costs, $10 million for development and prototyping). GENI still has quite a few hurdles to jump in the NSF approval process, but the naming of a GPO contractor, coupled with the CCC's naming of a GENI Science Council in March, should provide more heft to the effort.

    The GPO is online now and includes this useful FAQ.

    The BBN press release is here.

    NSF's Press Release: Three Wishes for a Future Internet? GENI Project Will Soon Be At Your Command

    May 17, 2007

    FY08 Joint Budget Conference

    The House and Senate have announced a conference agreement of the Joint Budget Resolution for FY08 (PDF), a key step in the annual appropriations process once it's passed by both chambers. The General Science, Space and Technology account, known as Function 250, is the total budget amount for NASA (except aviation programs), NSF, DOE Office of Science and DHS S&T. Research funding in Function 250 fares well in the conference agreement, growing by $1.7 billion over the FY 2007 level, which budget committee members intend to use to “provide significant increases for NSF and the DOE Office of Science and fully fund the President’s FY2008 request for NASA at $17.3 billion” (according to the report accompanying the resolution).

    While this sounds like great news, like everything in Washington, it isn’t nearly as simple as it sounds. As we wrote in this space on the FY07 budget resolution (PDF), the budget resolution really only helps the appropriators and the congressional leadership set the overall level of funding for the year, not the agency-by-agency numbers. The leadership will use the resolution to determine how much money goes to each appropriations subcommittee and the subcommittee will then decide how much each agency in their jurisdiction gets. This all means that we need to continue working to ensure that everyone on the Hill knows how important basic research funding is and that the Appropriations bills should fully fund the American Competitiveness Initiative.

    We will keep you updated as the Appropriations process moves forward.

    May 16, 2007

    House Committee Passes FY08 Defense Authorization

    The House Armed Services Committee Friday passed its version of the FY 2008 Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 1585). The authorization includes increases for Army and Navy basic research and keeps Air Force basic research funding level. Defense wide basic research, which includes DARPA, is up $22.25 million with an increase of $8 million for “semiconductor focus research” in the Defense Research Sciences.

    The committee released a report Monday for the authorization bill and it includes language stating the committee’s concern with the Department of Defense science and technology research budget requests, specifically basic research. The committee requests a report from the Secretary of Defense that “shall also outline a long-term, strategic plan for how the Department believes a sustained increase in funding for DOD basic research could be effectively utilized.”

    It also included language regarding the education programs at the department and shifted funds between the programs that the department requested while staying at the same total level of funding. The committee gave a lower authorization to the Pre-engineering modules, a new program, at $3.5 million and transferred that money to the Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) funded at $27 million, Materials World Modules (MWM) funded at $3.5 million, and the National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowships funded at $7.4 million.

    Thanks to Jason Van Wey of MIT for providing the breakdown and report language information.

    Posted by MelissaNorr at 12:31 PM
    Posted to FY08 Appropriations | Funding

    May 02, 2007

    NSF Authorization on the Floor Today

    The National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2007 (H.R. 1867), which we've discussed previously, will be on the House floor today. The bill authorizes appropriations at the agency (which is not the same as actually funding the agency -- only the appropriations committee can do that -- but is still a necessary (and symbolic) step in getting funding for the agency) at the levels called for in the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda -- a trajectory that would double the agency's budget over the next seven years.

    It's likely the bill will pass today without much difficulty. There are, however, a whole slate of amendments proposed, some of which are pretty awful (though not likely to pass). For example, there are amendments from Reps. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) and John Campbell (R-CA) that would specifically prohibit funding of nine already-funded grants in NSF's Social, Behavioral and Economics directorate, based apparently on their "silly" titles. Here are the grants targeted:

  • the reproductive aging and symptom experience at midlife among Bangladeshi Immigrants, Sedentees, and White London Neighbors;
  • the diet and social stratification in ancient Puerto Rico;
  • archives of Andean Knotted-String Records;
  • the accuracy in the cross-cultural understanding of others’ emotions;
  • bison hunting on the late prehistoric Great Plains;
  • team versus individual play;
  • sexual politics of waste in Dakar, Senegal;
  • social relationships and reproductive strategies of Phayre’s Leaf Monkeys; and
  • cognitive model of superstitious belief.
  • There are a number of reasons amendments like this are a bad idea. The primary one is that the NSF peer-review system, while arguably not perfect (well, far from perfect), is still likely a much more reliable way of choosing meritorious research than Congressional intervention. It's also pretty reasonable to assert that titles are not the best way to judge the worthiness of research.

    Additionally, there's an interesting (and bad) amendment proposed by Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) that would tie any increases in the NSF budget to proportional increases at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The amendment, Weldon says in a press release, would "ensure that NASA's budget is not raided to fund the NSF increase." As someone who has been doing science policy work for the better part of a decade, it amuses a little to think of NASA in the role of victim to NSF, as I've watched innumerable times in the past as NASA increases swallowed up all the available funding room in VA/HUD appropriations bills that shortchanged NSF and NIST. But the Weldon amendment is an innovative approach to "protecting" NASA, by trying to link the two agencies' budgets. It might, however, set an awkward precedent. One could imagine linking the National Institutes of Health and NASA, or NIH and NSF, or NSF and DOE, or NSF and NIST and NIH...the number of permutations just among the science agencies are enormous. But why stop there? We could link NSF and the Veterans Administration. The Department of Labor to NIH. Or NASA and the Department of Transportation (wait, that could almost make sense). In any case, the idea of linking two agencies with disparate missions together is probably not sound policy, and I would argue that the best way to "protect" NASA funding (which isn't actually at risk because of the NSF Authorization) is to ensure NASA is pursuing a compelling mission for the Nation.

    You can find a complete list of amendments being considered today on THOMAS. We'll try to keep score here throughout the day.

    One other piece of news about the bill is that it appears H.R. 1867 will get conferenced with the Senate as part of the S. 761 (the "America COMPETES Act") conference. This is actually very good news as it means the NSF Authorization has a real chance of enactment. While the bill is expected to pass the House without much difficulty, it wasn't clear that the Senate had much of an interest in moving it's own version of the bill, simply because they'd already passed an NSF authorization as part of S. 761. Now it appears that there's an inclination to take the NSF-specific portions of that bill out and use them as a conference vehicle for H.R. 1867. We'll have more as we learn more, but in short, this means that there's a potential path to enactment that is relatively free of big bumps....

    Update: (5/3/07 12:20 am) -- The bill passed overwhelmingly (399-17). The Garrett and Campbell amendments both failed, and the Weldon amendment was subject to a point of order that the NASA provisions weren't germane to the bill -- a point of order that was sustained. So great news all around!

    May 01, 2007

    Two Interesting Posts...

    ...on Jim Horning's Nothing is as simple as we hope it will be blog. The first, on a recent cyber security hearing on the Hill has a nice extended quote from the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and S&T of the House Committee on Homeland Security, complaining about the gutting of the cyber security R&D budget at DHS.

    The second is a summary of a paper by Robert Meyer and Michel Cukier on the impact of (perceived) user gender on the cyber attack threat (quick summary: "females" are much more likely to get attacked), which concludes with this great quote from Jim:

    If this hostility is anywhere near the typical Internet experience, is it any wonder that computing and IT are increasingly losing the women?"

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 10:28 PM
    Posted to Diversity in Computing | Funding | Policy | Research | Security

    April 12, 2007

    Innovation Briefing Event

    The Task Force on the Future of American Innovation and the House R&D Caucus are hosting a lunch briefing on Tuesday, April 17 at noon. The Role of Basic Research in Innovation, Economic Competitiveness and National Security will include speakers from industry and academia and will be based on the second Benchmarks report, “Measuring the Moment: Innovation, National Security, and Economic Competitiveness” that we have previously covered in this space.

    Speakers will include:

    Dr. Anita Jones from the University of Virginia giving a presentation called, “The Role of Defense Research in the Innovation and Competitiveness Debate”

    Dr. C. Dan Mote, President of the University of Maryland . His presentation is “Progress Since the Rising Above the Gathering Storm Report and What Still Needs Attention”

    Amy Burke from Texas Instruments speaking on “Industry Perspective on the Importance of Federal Investment in Basic Research”

    Task Force Chair Doug Comer, the director of legal affairs and technology policy at Intel, will do the welcome, introductions, and speak to the Benchmark’s report.

    Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), the co-chairs of the House R&D Caucus will also make remarks at the briefing.

    Anyone with an interest in innovation and competitiveness is welcome to attend. RSVP to Jessica Delucchi at 202.646.5046 or by Monday, April 16. Space is limited so reservations are on a first come basis.

    Update: Doug Comer, Dr. Mote, and Amy Burke spoke to a packed room at the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation and House R&D Caucus briefing " The Role of Basic Research in Innovation, Economic Competitiveness and National Security." Over 100 people attended from industry, academia, and the Hill, including Representatives Judy Biggert (R-IL), Rush Holt (D-NJ), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

    15.jpg Comer discussed the Measuring the Moment report issued last year by the Task Force and gave an overview of the continued importance of federal funding for basic research to the economy as a whole.

    As one of the Rising Above the Gathering Storm authors, Dr. Mote discussed the impact the report has had and what is still undone. He emphasized that the states need to be actively engaged in support of basic research at the university level and vocal about their support to their federal delegations.

    Burke presented a specific picture of why federally funded basic research is important to Texas Instruments and how that translates to industry as a whole. She gave specific examples of technologies that have had major economic impact and were begun through basic research.

    22.jpg Maybe just as importantly, each attendee left with a copy of the Benchmarks report (pdf) and other Task Force material and at least one Member of Congress was seen toting the report around later that day....

    All in all, a good, well-attended event.

    Posted by MelissaNorr at 03:25 PM
    Posted to Events | Funding | Policy | Research | Security

    April 10, 2007

    NSF Reauthorization

    The House Science and Technology Committee is set to hold two markups for a National Science Foundation reauthorization bill that Chairman Gordon would like to pass this year. The Research and Science Education subcommittee will hold their markup on April 19 and the full committee will have the markup on April 25. The committee has already had two hearings on the NSF reauthorization in March.

    CRA has seen some draft language and we think it looks pretty good. It includes authorization of funding at levels that fit with the goals of the ACI and the Democratic Innovation Agenda to double NSF over the next seven years. We are particularly pleased with language that could help programs aimed at increasing the participation of underrepresented groups in science. The language allows the NSF Director the option of continuing funding for these programs after their initial grant award expires if they're demonstrating success and the problem they seek to address persists.

    The language implicitly attempts to clarify NSF's role in supporting efforts that seek to encourage the participation of women and underrepresented groups in computing, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (CSTEM) disciplines. This is a response to long-standing concerns from CRA and other members of the computing and science communities about NSF's role. In a letter to the Chairman Gordon back in February, CRA along with 11 other organizations laid out the issue:

    NSF, in fulfillment of its mission to "strengthen the U.S. scientific and engineering research potential," has been very supportive of efforts designed to reach out to women and underrepresented groups in CSTEM. Recognizing the magnitude of the problem within computing, NSF has funded efforts within its Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) directorate to address it, including the current Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) initiative. These programs have good track records of funding efforts within the community that have demon- strated effectiveness -- for example, programs and institutions like the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), the Computer Science Teachers Association, and CRA's Committee on the Status of Women in Computing (CRA-W), which received the President's Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 2004.

    Our concern is that NSF, while very willing to fund new programs to address these underrepresentation issues, does not have a funding model to support successful efforts on anything approaching a sustaining basis. Unfortunately, there are no other agencies that have shown a willingness to adopt these successful programs once orphaned by NSF, and it has so far proven difficult for industry to fund them on a sustaining level. So successful efforts -- even those that have been independently evaluated and demonstrated effective -- must be restructured substantially to include new approaches in order to satisfy NSF’s guidelines about new programs and receive new funding when their original grants expire (typically in 3 to 5 years). As you can imagine, this is incredibly counter-productive, especially as the need for these programs remains great.

    So we are particularly pleased with the language that allows (but does not mandate) NSF to continue funding programs with proven track records to encourage underrepresented groups to enter CSTEM fields for an additional funding cycle without needing to make significant revisions to the programs. By including the language, it seems clear that the committee is endorsing the view that it's an appropriate a part of the NSF mission to support these efforts, and giving the agency the flexibility to continue those programs that appear to be working.

    We'll keep you posted on the bill as it moves through the markup process.

    Update: HR 1867, the NSF Authorization Act of 2007, was passed today by voice vote out of the Subcommittee on Research and Education with three amendments. The amendments included a request for a yearly report by NSF on the agencies Education and Human Resources funding allocation, a joint report from NSF and the National Academies on the barriers to STEM participation for underrepresented minorities and policy strategies to correct the low participation, and a requirement to fund undergraduate research awards at a sustainable level by calling it out of the general NSF Research and Related Activities account. Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-IL), while not objecting to the last amendment, did cite concerns about designating funds within the general allocation and that doing so could eventually create a line item in the budget that would be vulnerable to cuts in the future.

    The full Science and Technology Committee will mark up the bill next week.

    Posted by MelissaNorr at 01:31 PM
    Posted to CRA | Diversity in Computing | Funding | Policy | Research

    March 21, 2007

    Innovation Funding Featured in House Budget Resolution

    The Chairman of the House Budget Committee today released the "chairman's mark" (both pdf) of his committee's FY 2008 Congressional Budget Resolution that includes funding caps large enough to accommodate the continuation of funding increases at key federal science agencies called for in both the American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda. The resolution contains healthy increases in a number of budget accounts designed to allow congressional appropriators the budget "room" to include increases for ACI agencies -- National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Department of Energy Office of Science -- as well as the National Institutes of Health and additional federal education spending at a variety of agencies.

    The overall budget levels are similar to those found in the Senate version of the Congressional Budget Resolution (S. Con. Res 21), which was introduced back on March 15th and is being considered on the Senate floor now. The House bill is a bit more generous for the science accounts, but because of the convoluted way the budget process works, it's hard to translate either set of numbers to likely actual appropriations. In each case, it's enough to know that both the House and Senate budgeters appear to have factored in the requested increases (or greater) for key science agencies in their budgets. (Update below) The House also included "sense of the House" language that really calls out their support for science funding increases:

    SENSE OF THE HOUSE ON THE INNOVATION AGENDA: A COMMITMENT TO COMPETITIVENESS TO KEEP AMERICA #1. (a) It is the sense of the House to provide sufficient funding that our Nation may continue to be the world leader in education, innovation and economic growth. This resolution provides $___ [this is still to be determined--PH] above the President’s requested level for 2008, and additional amounts in subsequent years in Function 250 (General Science, Space and Technology) and Function 270 (Energy). Additional increases for scientific research and education are included in Function 500 (Education, Employment, Training, and Social Services), Function 550 (Health), Function 300 (Environment and Natural Resources), Function 350 (Agriculture), Function 400 (Transportation), and Function 370 (Commerce and Housing Credit), all of which receive more funding than the President requested.

    (b) America’s greatest resource for innovation resides within classrooms across the country. The increased funding provided in this resolution will support important initiatives to educate 100,000 new scientists, engineers, and mathematicians, and place highly qualified teachers in math and science K–12 classrooms.

    (c) Independent scientific research provides the foundation for innovation and future technologies. This resolution will put us on the path toward doubling funding for the National Science Foundation, basic research in the physical sciences across all agencies, and collaborative research partnerships; and toward achieving energy independence through the development of clean and sustainable alternative energy technologies.

    Both House and Senate budget chairs believe they have the votes to move the respective resolutions in their chambers. We'll keep you posted as they move.

    For those who like numbers, here are the funding levels for each budget function in the House resolution, and here are the Senate numbers (click on Sec. 103, Major Functional Categories)

    Update: (6:14 pm 3/21/07) -- It appears I was a little quick in my analysis of the Senate version of the resolution. While the Senate does include increases for some of the budget functions that cover science agencies, it's not clear those increases would be used for science funding. Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have an amendment to the resolution that will be voted on this evening that would "restore" $1 billion to the resolution for the President's request and to fund the provisions of the America COMPETES Act. Here's a press release from Alexander's office which spells out the detail.

    We'll have more after the vote.

    Update 2: (8:19 pm 3/21/07) -- The amendment passed overwhelmingly.

    March 09, 2007

    Support ACI FY08 Funding

    The American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) introduced by the President during the 2006 State of the Union is a commitment to the doubling of the research budgets for NSF, NIST, and the Department of Energy Office of Science. Much of that commitment was met by congressional appropriators in FY 07, as they increased the budgets for the three agencies in the year end "continuing resolution." The President remained committed to ACI in his FY 08 budget request, asking for 7 to 14 percent increases for the three agencies.

    The FY08 requests of $6.43 billion for NSF and $4.4 billion for the Office of Science would keep both agencies on the doubling path, which has received much bipartisan support in the past.

    Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Christopher Bond (R-MO) are circulating a letter to colleagues asking for their support of the $6.43 billion request for the National Science Foundation in FY 2008. Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) are circulating a similar letter to colleagues asking for their support for the Administration's $4.4 billion request for the Department of Energy's Office of Science in FY08. The letters will be sent to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee and the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, respectively.

    So far the NSF support letter has been signed by Christopher Bond (R-MO), Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Carl Levin (D-MI), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Barack Obama (D-IL), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

    The Office of Science letter has been signed by Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), John Kerry (D-MA), Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Barack Obama (D-IL), Pat Roberts (R-KS), John Rockefeller (D-WV), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), George Voinovich (R-OH), John Warner (R-VA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

    During the FY 07 appropriations process, these "ask" letters were remarkably influential on congressional appropriators, helping position science funding as a "national priority" and carving out increases for three key science agencies even as many other agencies were held flat or cut. We're asking for your help in making this similar effort by Lieberman, Bond, Bingaman and Alexander equally effective. Please fax your state Senators (especially if they're not on the list above - but even if they are) and ask them to sign on to the Lieberman/Bond and Bingaman/Alexander "Dear Colleague" letters.

    A sample letter you can use can be found at CRA's Advocacy web page -- please FAX it to your Senators offices as soon as possible. The deadline for signers is Monday, March 12. Please also fax a copy of your letter to Melissa Norr at 202.667.1066.

    Find out who your Senators are at Senators of the 110th Congress.

    March 07, 2007

    Bill Gates Testifies on Competitiveness Issues

    Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corp, testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on competitiveness issues this morning. A web cast of the hearing is available here. He emphasized three areas: educating students and workers, immigration, and federal funding of basic research and R&D tax credit. His extensive written testimony (where he cites CRA’s own Jay Vegso!) goes into great detail on each of these three issues.

    Gates hit the competitiveness high notes that are found in the Rising Above the Gathering Storm and Tapping America’s Potential reports including recruiting more high school science and math teachers, doubling the number of math, science, and engineering graduates, increasing basic science R&D at the major research agencies by 10% over the next 7 years, and increasing visas for high skilled workers. He used computing as an example in both his oral and written testimony. His written testimony states:

    We cannot possibly sustain an economy founded on technology pre-eminence without a citizenry educated in core technology disciplines such as mathematics, computer science, engineering, and the physical sciences. The economy’s need for workers trained in these fields is massive and growing. The U.S. Department of Labor has projected that, in the decade ending in 2014, there will be over two million job openings in the United States in these fields. Yet in 2004, just 11 percent of all higher education degrees awarded in the U.S. were in engineering, mathematics, and the physical sciences – a decline of about a third since 1960.

    Recent declines are particularly pronounced in computer science. The percentage of college freshmen planning to major in computer science dropped by 70 percent between 2000 and 2005.3 In an economy in which computing has become central to innovation in nearly every sector, this decline poses a serious threat to American competitiveness. Indeed, it would not be an exaggeration to say that every significant technological innovation of the 21st century will require new software to make it happen.

    To combat this decline, Gates takes a recommendation straight from the Gathering Storm report and calls for 25,000 4-year undergraduate scholarships in the STEM fields. He also said that the opportunities for innovation in computing are greater than most people, especially students, realize.

    February 14, 2007

    House Science Committee Budget Hearing

    The House Committee on Science and Technology held its first budget hearing of the year today with testimony from Dr. John Marburger, director of the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. The focus of the chairman and several of the committee members, including perennial science champion Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI), was on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and the decreases to NSF’s Education and Human Resources Directorate in recent years, along with some concern regarding NASA’s space exploration and aeronautics funding. The opening statements as well as a web cast of the hearing are available online.

    The Committee and Dr. Marburger for the Administration seemed to be in agreement that the increased funding for NSF, NIST, and DoE Office of Science were important and that the American Competitiveness Initiative is important for America’s future innovation and competitiveness. However, the Administration and the Chairman seemed to diverge when it comes to priorities. The Administration priority is research funding and Chairman Gordon said that the education recommendations of the Gathering Storm report should be an equal priority. The Chairman repeatedly came back to the fact that, while the FY08 budget request increases funding to NSF’s EHR Directorate, that same Directorate’s funding has decreased by 50 percent in the last four years. He was also unimpressed with the Department of Education FY08 budget request in that he felt the STEM education funding should be at NSF.

    You can see the entire hearing on the Committee’s web site.

    February 06, 2007

    FY08 Budget Detail: National Science Foundation

    As we noted yesterday, the National Science Foundation does quite well in the President's FY 2008 Budget Request, slated to grow 6.8 percent over FY 2007 (or nearly $409 million) to $6.4 billion. That growth rate would continue NSF on the 10-year "doubling" trajectory originally set by the Administration as part of last year's American Competitiveness Initiative. The news for the computing community that is so heavily reliant on NSF is equally good -- both the Computing and Information Science and Engineering directorate and the Office of Cyberinfrastructure would see big gains in the President's plan. Here are the details (brace for charts):

    First, the macro level view of the agency:

    National Science Foundation
    (in millions of dollars)
    Budget Request
    $ Change vs
    FY07 Request
    % Change vs
    FY07 Request (%)
    Research and Related Activities $4,449.25 $4,765.95 $5,131.69 $365.74 7.7%
    Education and Human Resources $700.26 $716.22 $750.60 $34.48 4.8%
    MREFC $233.81 $240.45 $244.74 $4.29 1.8%
    Agency Operations and Award Management $247.06 $281.82 $285.59 $3.77 1.3%
    National Science Board $3.94 $3.91 $4.03 $0.12 3.1%
    Office of the Inspector General $11.47 $11.86 $12.35 $0.49 4.1%
    Total NSF $5,645.79 $6,020.21 $6,429.00 $408.79 6.8%

    As you can see, the great bulk of the Administration's planned increase is aimed at the Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account, home of NSF's research directorates. The agency's education efforts -- in the Education and Human Resources directorate -- would also see an increase, though not nearly as robust as R&RA. Of particular interest to those of us in the computing community, NSF is using some of the increase provided by ACI on a new NSF-wide initiative called "Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation" (CDI) that aims to "broaden the Nation's capability for innovation by developing a new generation of computationally based discovery concepts and tools to deal with complex, data-rich and interacting systems." The $52 million initiative will be led by NSF's CISE directorate (who will control $20 million of the funding), with participation from Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science, Social, Behavioral and Economic science, Cyberinfrastructure, International Science, and EHR. The agency appears to have big plans for the initative, projecting out-year funding growing to $250 million in FY 2012 (with CISE hopefully maintaining a proportional share).

    Drilling down a little further, here's the Directorate by Directorate breakdown within R&RA:

    NSF Research and Related Activities
    Directorate Budgets
    (in millions of dollars)
    Budget Request
    $ Change vs
    FY07 Request
    % Change vs
    FY07 Request (%)
    Biological Sciences $580.90 $607.85 $633.00 $25.15 4.1%
    Computer and Information Science and Engineering $496.35 $526.69 $574.00 $47.31 9.0%
    Engineering $585.46 $628.55 $683.30 $54.75 8.7%
    Geosciences $703.95 $744.85 $792.00 $47.15 6.3%
    Mathematical and Physical Sciences $1,086.61 $1,150.30 $1,253.00 $102.70 8.9%
    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences $201.23 $213.76 $222.00 $8.24 3.9%
    Office of Cyberinfrastructure $127.14 $182.42 $200.00 $17.58 9.6%
    Office of International Science and Engineering $42.61 $40.61 $45.00 $4.39 10.8%
    Office of Polar Programs $390.54 $438.10 $464.90 $26.80 6.1%
    Integrative Activities1 $233.30 $231.37 $263.00 $31.63 13.7%
    U.S. Arctic Research Commission $1.17 $1.45 $1.49 $0.04 2.8%
    Total, Research and Related Activities $4,449.25 $4,765.95 $5,131.69 $365.74 7.7%

    The increases weren't evenly distributed throughout the directorates. Of the research directorates, CISE would see the largest percentage increase. In fact, the 9 percent requested growth rate is the largest for the directorate in seven years. Here's how CISE plans to spend the funding:

    NSF CISE Directorate Funding
    (in millions of dollars)
    Budget Request
    $ Change vs
    FY07 Request
    % Change vs
    FY07 Request (%)
    Computing and Communication Foundation $105.30 $122.82 $149.15 $26.33 21.4%
    Computer and Network Systems $141.07 $162.98 $191.98 $29.00 17.8%
    Information and Intelligent Systems $103.78 $119.30 $154.63 $35.33 29.6%
    Information Technology Research $146.20 $121.59 $78.24 -$43.35 -35.7%
    Total, CISE $496.35 $526.69 $574.00 $47.31 9.0%

    Deborah Crawford, the acting AD for CISE, highlighted a number of new programs the new funding -- and funding freed up as the ITR program comes to an end -- would allow the directorate to pursue. First is an emphasis on "Discovery Research for Innovation," which includes these new efforts:

    • High Risk, High Return Research ($50 million) -- "Seeking Big Ideas in support of Grand Vision." Programs in the area will focus on fundamental questions in computing, larger projects, and try to exploit the potential of emerging technologies.
    • Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation ($20 million) -- As detailed above, CISE will lead this NSF-wide effort, focusing on promoting computational thinking for problem solving.
    In addition, CISE will continue its support for planning of the Global Environment for Networking Innovations with $20 million in funding for pre-construction planning. GENI was also included in the Foundation's 2007 Facility plan as the first "Horizon" project -- a step away from "Readiness Stage," which would allow for extensive pre-construction planning. GENI is one of 10 projects listed as "Horizon" projects. (There's just one project in the Readiness Stage in FY 2008 -- the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope -- and just one that is listed as a possible new start in FY 2008 (the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory)).

    The budget also includes statistics on the number of awards and the funding rate estimates for the directorate in FY 06, 07 and 08. The directorate estimates it will fund fewer research grants in FY 07 than it did in FY 06 (950 in FY07 vs 1,003 in FY06), with a corresponding drop in funding rate (18 percent in FY07 vs 22 percent in FY06). For FY08, the directorate expects the number of research grants to grow to 1,000 and the funding rate to rise a bit to 20 percent.

    Despite those figures, this is, overall, a very promising start for computing at NSF in FY 2008 -- which, given NSF's role in funding 87 percent of academic basic research in computing, makes it a good start for the field.

    FY08 Budget Detail: DOE's Office of Science

    As stated in a previous post about the FY08 Budget Request, Department of Energy’s Office of Science did well with a $296 million, or 7 percent, increase over the FY07 request. The Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) request is $340.2 million, an increase of $21.5 million or 6.8 percent.

    The ASCR has three overarching programs: Research in applied mathematics and computer science with a request of $82.8 million up from $69.6 million in the FY07 request; Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) with a request of $56.3 million up from $56.1 million in the FY07 request; and High-performance computing and network facilities and testbeds with a request of $201.1 million up from $193 million in the FY07 request.

    Overall these are good numbers for computing, and science, and certainly help to make up for some of the recent lean years. As always, we’ll keep you posted as we learn more and as the budget process goes forward on Capitol Hill.

    February 05, 2007

    President Releases FY 2008 Budget; Stays Committed to ACI

    President Bush released his FY 2008 budget request today and it appears that, as promised, the Administration remains committed to the American Competitiveness Initiative and the doubling trajectory for three key science agencies begun in last year's budget request. We've only just started digging into the budget documents -- and we'll be getting more in-depth agency briefings later this afternoon -- but here are some of the top-level numbers: [Just a note, comparing some of these numbers to FY 2007 is a bit problematic because the final FY 2007 estimates aren't in yet. So in all cases but Defense and Homeland Security, the comparison is to the President's requested funding level for FY 2007, which, in most cases, is probably actually higher than the final FY 2007 level set by the CR is likely to be. Therefore, the increases shown for these agencies' requests may actually be greater compared to the final FY 2007 numbers.]

    National Science Foundation: Overall funding would rise to $6.429 billion in FY 2008, an increase of $409 million or 7 percent greater than the President's FY 2007 budget request. NSF's research accounts would grow $648 million over the FY 2007 request to $4.880 billion, an increase of 15 percent.

    National Institute of Standards and Technology: (Intramural Research and Facilities) NIST's core research and facilities accounts would grow to $586 million in FY 2008, an increase of $55 million or 10 percent over the President's FY 2007 request.

    Department of Energy, Office of Science: Increase to $4.398 billion, or $296 million or 7 percent greater than the President's FY 2007 request.

    Defense: Defense is trickier to figure out because it and Homeland Security are the only two agencies with enacted levels for FY 2007. In the President's FY 2008 request, Defense basic and applied research would decline $1.110 billion vs. the FY 2007 enacted level to $5.785 billion, a 16 percent reduction. For Basic research (6.1), the Administration requests $1.428 billion, a reduction of $137 million from the FY 07 enacted level (9 percent) and just $7 million more than the President requested in FY 07. Applied research would fall to $4.357 billion under the President's plan, $973 million (18 percent) lower than FY 07 enacted, and $121 million less than he requested in FY 07.

    National Institutes of Health: The Administration plan would set NIH's budget at $28.700 billion in FY 2008, $432 million more than the President's FY 2007 request, but about $188 million short of the amount likely to be enacted in the FY 2007 CR.

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: NOAA would see its research budget rise to $358 million in FY 2008 under the President's plan, an increase of $20 million or 6 percent compared to his FY 2007 request. We have to do a bit more digging to see how this will compare with the CR level.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration: NASA's Science account would grow to $5.516 billion in FY 2008, $186 million or 3 percent greater than the President's FY 2007 request.

    Networking and Information Technology R&D Program: This is the cross-agency budget line for the NITRD program, one of just three interagency R&D efforts listed in the budget (the other two are the National Nanotechnology Initiative and the Climate Change Science Program). I'm hesitant to just put up the raw numbers here, because they always require some interpretation (see last year, for example), but the bottom line number is that the NITRD program would stay essentially flat at $3.057 billion in FY 2008, a $12 million increase over the President's FY 2007 request (and the FY 2007 Defense enacted number). Slated for increases would be NSF's NITRD activities, which would grow $90 million to $994 million, a 10 percent increase, and the Department of Energy and NASA, which would both increase by 4 percent. Defense IT R&D would suffer a 2 percent cut vs. the FY 2007 enacted level, and NIH would see a 14 percent decrease vs. the President's FY 07 request. But it's going to take a bit more investigating to figure out where NITRD really stands vs. FY 2007.

    Just for comparison's sake, the NNI would grow by 4 percent in FY 08 (to $1.447 billion) and the Climate Change Science Program would decline 7 percent to $1.544 billion.

    We expect to have a lot more detail after the agency briefings this afternoon. We'll post whatever we learn as soon as we can.

    By the way, all the budget documents are perusable here.

    January 30, 2007

    Good News for Science in the FY 07 CR

    It appears House and Senate appropriators have reached a final agreement on the "continuing resolution" for FY 2007 and it looks like good news for federal science agencies. For weeks now we (and the other members of the science community) have been concerned that FY 2007 appropriations debacle would freeze agencies like NSF, NIST, and DOE's Office of Science at FY 2006 levels, postponing planned increases to the agencies called for in the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and approved by the full House and the Senate Appropriations Committee. However, in a joint continuing resolution filed last night, the House and Senate Appropriations Committee chairs agreed to exempt NSF, NIST, and DOE Office of Science (and NIH additionally) from the CR and provide increases to each agency's FY 2007 budget.

    While the agencies won't receive the full amounts they requested as part of ACI, each agency should receive significantly more than they received in FY 2006. Under the agreement, NSF's research accounts would receive a 6 7.7 percent increase, slightly below the 7.8 percent matching the increase called for in the ACI, but $335 million more than FY 2006.* NIST would receive $50 million in additional funding for its core research budget. DOE Office of Science would see $200 million more than FY 06, plus the elimination of $127.8 million in earmarks that would then be available for competitive research. And NIH, while not officially part of the ACI and expecting flat-funding in FY 07, would see an increase of $619.5 million -- which, according to the appropriations committee, would "support an additional 500 research project grants, 1,500 first time investigators, and expand funding for high risk and high-impact research."

    Given where we thought we might be as a result of the CR, this is great news. The agreement was announced by both House Appropriations Chair David Obey (D-WI) and Senate Appropriations Chair Robert Byrd (D-WV), so it's a good bet that the bill will pass in its current form. The House will vote on the CR on Wednesday and the Senate will take it up soon after.

    This is a big win for the science community. Protecting these increases for the federal investment in science in a resolution that cut more than 60 other domestic programs below FY 2006 levels sends a powerful signal that basic research is a national priority. Science was one of just a few priorities protected by Congressional Democrats in the bill -- it joins federal highway programs, veteran's health care, the FBI and local law enforcement, and Pell grant funding. The science community -- along with its partners in industry -- weighed in heavily in support of ACI funding, and its clear that advocacy had the desired effect. So thanks to all of you who joined with CRA as part of the Computing Research Advocacy Network to help make the case for science. It's clear your voices were heard!

    We'll have more details as this bill moves towards final passage. Then it's on to FY 2008, which just might be off to a good start.

    Update: (5:50 pm, 1/31/07) -- The House easily passed the measure today, unamended, by a vote of 286-140. The Senate should take up the resolution next week.

    Update: (4:22 pm, 2/8/07) -- * a closer look at the numbers actually in the resolution show that it only specifically calls out NSF's R&RA account, increasing it $335 million over FY 2006 to $4.7 billion (matching the Administration's request). It appears the remainder of NSF's accounts aren't addressed in the resolution and so they'll stay at FY 06 levels.

    The Senate is considering the resolution today. The Senate Democrats have apparently blocked any amendments to the resolution from Republicans (using some of the Senate's arcane procedural techniques), so it's likely it will pass in its current form.

    January 26, 2007

    ACI not in SOTU, but Administration "still fully committed"

    In contrast to last year's State of the Union address by the President, this year's speech didn't feature much in the way of competitiveness or themes. While we've gotten many assurances from the White House in recent weeks that the President's American Competitiveness Initiative -- introduced with great fanfare last year and currently mired in the debacle which has become the FY 07 Appropriations process -- is still a priority for the Administration and will continue in the FY 08 budget, in the wake of Tuesday's State of the Union I thought I'd just check in again and make sure things hadn't changed. Fortunately, they haven't. Here's the word from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (posted with permission):

    Me: I notice the ACI didn't recieve much mention in the President's SOTU. Is ACI still a priority for the Administration? Will we see the commitment continue in FY 08?

    OSTP: The SOTU was focused this year to a limited number of topics (mostly new of course), but I can assure you we’re still fully committed to its success.  FYI, below is a response to a similar question that Dr. Marburger shared with a reporter earlier this week.  I suspect we’ll have more details to share between now and the budget release so I’ll keep you posted. 


    The President remains fully committed to the success of the American Competitiveness Initiative and the Administration looks forward to Year Two of the ACI and working with the 110th Congress to achieve the President’s vision for innovation. 
    Individually, the House and Senate funded Year One of the President’s proposal to increase basic research in the physical sciences.  However, to remain on track to meet the President’s goal of doubling funding for these key research agencies over 10 years, Congress now needs to complete full funding for Year One of the Initiative (FY07).
    The White House also indicated it plans to continue working to see ACI addressed in whatever final resolution Congress comes up with for FY 07 appropriations. News on that front is that the House plans to take up the CR next week, but as of this writing, there's still no final decision on what will make the cut and what won't. By pledging to "eliminate earmarks" in the CR, appropriators will free up somewhere on the order of $17 billion to $33 billion in funding to apply to agencies for FY 07. But that range demonstrates the difficulties the decision-makers are facing -- gaining consensus on what constitutes an earmark in this case is fraught with political landmines. As a result, there is even talk at the moment of yet again extending the CR for a short duration past the Feb 15th deadline to give appropriators more time to negotiate a CR that will extend the balance of the fiscal year.

    As always, as we learn more detail, we'll pass it on....

    January 23, 2007

    Speaker's Speech Emphasizes Innovation

    Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, along with Majority Leader Harry Reid, gave the State of Our Union speech last week at the National Press Club. Pelosi's portion of the speech covered many topics including innovation. Highlights:

    Essential to our children's future is the economic security of their families now. Preparing for the 21st century means bolstering our commitment to keep our nation number one. In our Innovation Agenda, unveiled more than a year ago here at the Press Club, House Democrats made a commitment to competitiveness. We will provide our nation with the tools necessary to unleash the next generation of growth and jobs.

    In his State of the Union address last year, President Bush spoke of keeping America competitive. With Democrats in the majority, we must work together with our Republican colleagues to do so - nothing less than America's economic leadership and our national security is at stake.

    Innovation and economic growth begins in America's classrooms. To create a new generation of innovators, we must fund No Child Left Behind so that we can encourage science and math education, taught by the most qualified and effective teachers.


    Innovation also requires federal grants to our universities, which have long been the spark for great breakthroughs: from the Internet, to biosciences, to fiber optics, to nanotechnology.

    We must commit to doubling federal funding for basic research and development in the physical sciences and modernize and expand the research and development tax credit. And we will bring broadband access to every American within five years, creating millions of jobs.

    These investments, and initiatives to support a thriving small business environment, will allow us to pursue the long-term, trailblazing research that gives rise to new advances, spawns new industries, and creates good jobs here at home.

    We hope this means that basic science research agencies like NSF will receive the President's proposed increases for the FY07 budget in the forthcoming CR and further increases in future budgets.

    The full text of the speech can be found here.

    January 18, 2007

    CR Impacts on NSF

    NSF has released some data on the impact of a "continuing resolution" on the agency for FY 2007, something we have discussed previously in this space. It confirms essentially what we expected: programs will have reduced funding for FY 2007 or be put on hold and award rates and award size will decline signficantly. Some examples:

    • Overall budget would be $4.175 billion, $400 million below the Adminstration's request and $168 million below the FY 2004 budget in constant dollars ($4.343 billion);
    • Will reduce the number of new grants by 10% and the funding rate by 20%
    • Reductions in programs will include: International Polar Year, Petascale Supercomputer Acquisitions ($50 million for the Office of Cyber Infrastructure's Petascale Computing system), Explosives and Related Threats, Science of Science and Innovation Policy, and Engineering Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation
    • New starts that would potentially be on hold are the Alaska Region Research Vessel, National Ecological Observatory Network, and Ocean Observatories Initiative
    • Administrative costs have risen by $8 million from FY06 to FY07 and offsets in services and infrastructure will be required

    Dr. Arden Bement, Director of NSF, posted a letter regarding the CR impacts online. The letter states:

    The outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year remains highly uncertain, with one possibility being an extension of funding at the current level. While we are acutely aware of the tight constraints on the available budgetary resources, NSF is continuing to issue program announcements and solicitations as previously planned.

    It is likely, however, that NSF may be unable to fund a number of activities planned for this fiscal year. We believe it is important for NSF’s grantee community to be aware of this uncertainty, as a number of activities may be affected later in the fiscal year.

    Stay tuned and we will update you on the CR status and impacts to agencies as we learn more.

    January 17, 2007

    Computing Community Weighs in on Continuing Resolution

    As we've previously noted, the potential adoption of a "continuing resolution" to freeze funding at federal agencies at FY 2006 (or lower) levels through FY 2007 has the potential to cause major disruptions at federal science agencies and imperil the increases for science called for in the American Competitiveness Initiative.

    In response, the leading organizations of the computing community have joined together to call on the Democratic leadership to preserve in any continuing resolution the hard-won increases for science already approved by the full House and the Senate Appropriations committee:

    January 12, 2007

    The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
    House of Representatives
    Washington, DC 20515

    Dear Madam Speaker:

    As leaders and supporters of the computing research community responsible for providing the research base that has propelled the new economy and enabled our nation's dominant position in information technology, we are greatly concerned to learn that difficulties in the appropriations process might endanger proposed increases to three key federal science agencies in FY 2007. We urge you to protect the increases for FY 2007 already approved by the full House and the Senate Appropriations Committee for the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Department of Energy Office of Science in the FY 2007 appropriations Continuing Resolution or final appropriations.

    As you know, NSF, NIST and DOE Office of Science are key participants in the federal Networking and Information Technology R&D initiative, the multi-agency effort that comprises the federal role in supporting long-term, fundamental IT research. The importance of this research in enabling the new economy is well documented. Nearly every aspect of information technology research upon which we rely today traces its roots to federally sponsored university-based research. The resulting advances in information technology have led to significant improvements in product design, development and distribution for American industry, provided instant communications for people worldwide, and enabled new scientific disciplines like bioinformatics and nanotechnology that show great promise in improving a whole range of health, security, and communications technologies. Leaving basic federal science funding at FY 2006 (or lower) levels threatens to disrupt that chain of innovation, placing our nation at risk of not having the necessary resources - the people, the ideas and the infrastructure - we need to maintain our global economic leadership and ensure our continued security.

    You and your colleagues in the Democratic Caucus earned high praise from our community in recognizing in your Innovation Agenda the need to increase support for fundamental research in the physical sciences, mathematics, computing and engineering in order to ensure the Nation's continued leadership in an increasingly competitive world. The President's American Competitiveness Initiative shared that commitment and the full House and the members of the Senate Appropriations Committee endorsed the need for those increases on a bipartisan basis in the appropriations bills they approved.

    We commend you for your continued leadership in helping ensure the U.S. has the resources it needs to remain innovative and competitive, especially in information technology. Preserving the proposed increases for NSF, NIST and DOE Office of Science in a limited adjustment to the FY 2007 Continuing Resolution would be a simple and necessary step to ensure U.S. competitiveness. While the payoffs of past research have been dramatic, the field of information technology remains in relative infancy. Tremendous opportunities remain - far more can happen in the next ten years than has happened in the last thirty, and it is crucial that America lead the way.


    American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI)
    Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
    Computing Research Association (CRA)
    Coaltion for Academic Scientific Computation (CASC)
    Insitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE-USA)
    Microsoft Corporation
    Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM)

    As an aside, regardless of the success of this effort (we understand there's not a whole lot of wiggle-room in the CR for anything beyond providing increases in veteran's benefits), the fact that the wide-breadth of the computing community -- from the research side, to the practitioner side, to the corporate community -- joined together with one voice is worthy of note and certainly bodes well for future efforts.

    Keep an eye here for all the details of the CR as they emerge....

    Gingrich/Gordon OpEd on Basic Research, Security and Competitiveness

    Today's Washington Times features an OpEd from two champions of science from opposite sides of the aisle: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the new Chair of the House Committee on Science and Technology, Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN). The piece was motivated by the recent Task Force on the Future of American Innovation report, (covered previously) which calls for a strong federal investment in fundamental research in order to help preserve the Nation's economic leadership and ensure our continued security. Gingrich participated in the roll-out event for the Benchmarks report and was quite eloquent on the national security implications of basic research, themes he and Gordon return to in this OpEd:

    Throughout history, national security has been dependent on economic prosperity, and visa versa. An economically strong America is better able to defend itself. Likewise, the nation's ability to defend itself is a prerequisite to maintaining the infrastructure and other elements of a strong national economy.

    Unfortunately, the nation has forgotten one of the most important ways our economic prosperity and national security are linked — investment in fundamental scientific research. Investments made in fundamental scientific research after World War II and during the Cold War have been essential to making our fighting men and women today the best equipped in the world. These previous investments and the new knowledge they generated also made enormous contributions to our economic vitality.

    But our commitment to that defense-oriented fundamental research — the kind of research that pays off not in a year or two but in the long run, sometimes decades in the future — has eroded. If we do not renew this commitment, it will harm our global economic competitiveness as well as the effectiveness and safety of our troops.

    The piece is very well-timed, given the current deliberations on the stalled FY 2007 Appropriations process and the President's forthcoming State of the Union Address. Its bipartisan authorship highlights the bipartisan support for fundamental research in Congress. With a flood of new Members of Congress in Washington, and "old" Members with new positions of responsibility, this is a drum that will need continuous beating in the coming we try to make up for the painful stumbles late after a year of fantastic progress.

    Read the whole piece.

    January 11, 2007

    Congressional Letter on CR and NSF Funding

    Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), and Rep. Rush Holt (R-NJ) are the impetus behind a “Dear Colleague” letter to Chairman David Obey (D-WI) and Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) of the Appropriations Committee regarding NSF funding in the FY2007 CR that will be delivered tomorrow. It currently has 14 co-signers. The letter makes all the points about NSF funding that CRA and the rest of the science research community have been making since the first CR for FY2007. Some highlights:

    Specifically, we ask that you fund NSF at the House-passed, President’s requested level of $6.02 billion in fiscal year 2007. This is essential, because the flat funding for this agency under the Continuing Resolution will directly inhibit our national competitiveness and jeopardize American innovation.

    The NSF is the major source of funding in many fields such as the basic sciences, mathematics, computer science, and the social sciences, and it funds approximately 20 percent of all federally-supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. If Congress only flat funding, peer-reviewed basic science research will suffer across the country. NSF-funded researchers have won more than 170 Nobel Prizes and pioneered innovations that have improved quality of life of all Americans.

    CRA has sent letters to the leadership in both chambers and to the chairmen of both Appropriations Committees supporting increased funding for NSF in the CR. There is still time for all of you to weigh in with your members regarding funding levels as we have suggested here previously.

    Update: As of January 16th, there are 78 signatures on the Congressional Dear Colleague. For the list of co-signers click the link at the bottom of the post.

    Update 2: Sen. Joseph Lieberman has begun a similar effort in the Senate with a letter to Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Sen. Richard Shelby, the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Commerce, Justice, and Science subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee. Highlights:

    The NSF has suffered from budgetary constraints in recent years, and even saw its budget cut in fiscal year 2005. In 2007, the President’s budget included a significant increase in NSF funding, particularly for physical sciences and engineering. This increased funding will support the development of innovative technologies, and will promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the United States. NSF funding is also critical to our nation’s continued investment in higher education, providing 20 percent of all federally-funded research in America’s universities and colleges. In their respective 2007 appropriations bills, both the House and the Senate concurred with the President’s increased funding request for the NSF.

    The NSF is a sensible investment of our federal dollars. The agency earns exemplary budgetary performance scores, and all grants are awarded through a peer-review process. The NSF is unique in that a small federal investment in research has the potential to yield immeasurable results in both the short and long term.

    As of this morning, the Senate letter had 8 co-signers.

    Congressional Dear Colleague Co-Signers
    Mike Rogers (R-MI)
    Danny K. Davis (D-IL)
    Daniel Lipinski (D-IL)
    Bart Gordon (D-TN)
    Rush Holt (D-NJ)
    Eliot Engel (D-NY)
    Bob Inglis (R-SC)
    Timothy V. Johnson (R-IL)
    Vernon J. Ehlers (R-MI)
    Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)
    Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
    Diana DeGette (D-CO)
    Ellen Tauscher (D-CA)
    F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
    Dennis Moore (D-KS)
    Dale Kildee (D-MI)
    William Delahunt (D-MA)
    Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)
    Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
    Mike Doyle (D-PA)
    Ed Markey (D-MA)
    Richard Baker (R-LA)
    Deborah Pryce (R-OH)
    Michael E. Capuano (D-MA)
    Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
    Howard Berman (D-CA)
    Michael R. McNulty (D-NY)
    Bobby L. Rush (D-IL)
    Doris O. Matsui (D-CA)
    Timothy Bishop (D-NY)
    John Dingell (D-MI)
    James McGovern (D-MA)
    Baron P. Hill (D-IN)
    Steve Cohen (D-TN)
    Jay Inslee (D-WA)
    Albio Sires (D-NJ)
    Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
    Judy Biggert (R-IL)
    Jim McDermott (D-WA)
    Lois Capps (D-CA)
    Tom Allen (D-ME)
    Doc Hastings (R-WA)
    David G. Reichert (R-WA)
    Bruce L. Braley (D-IA)
    David Loebsack (D-IA)
    Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)
    Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI)
    Nancy E. Boyda (D-KS)
    Michael Michaud (D-ME)
    Mark Udall (D-CO)
    Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
    Diane E. Watson (D-CA)
    Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ)
    Jim Gerlach (R-PA)
    Stephanie Herseth (D-SD)
    John Lewis (D-GA)
    Jo Bonner (R-AL)
    William J. Jefferson (D-LA)
    Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
    Jerry Moran (R-KS)
    Jim Saxton (R-NJ)
    Elijah Cummings (D-MD)
    John Tierney (D-MA)
    Jim Moran (D-VA)
    Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)
    Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
    David Wu (D-OR)
    James L. Oberstar (D-MN)
    Ralph M. Hall (R-TX)
    Tom Lantos (D-CA)
    Darlene Hooley (D-OR)
    Maurice Hinchey (D-NY)
    Harry E. Mitchell (D-AZ)
    Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
    Mike McIntyre (D-NC)
    Brian Baird (D-WA)
    Norman D. Dicks (D-WA)
    Albert Wynn (D-MD)

    January 08, 2007

    NYT Article on Impact of CR on Science

    The Sunday New York Times featured an article on the impact of the continuing resolution on science research. The article starts:

    The failure of Congress to pass new budgets for the current fiscal year has produced a crisis in science financing that threatens to close major facilities, delay new projects and leave thousands of government scientists out of work, federal and private officials say.

    It touches on a number of agencies, programs, and labs that are hurting and facing possible discontinuation. Regarding NSF it states:

    The National Science Foundation, which supports basic research at universities, had expected a $400 million increase over the $5.7 billion budget it received in 2006. Now, the freeze is prompting program cuts, delays and slowdowns.

    "It's rather devastating," said Jeff Nesbit, the foundation's head of legislative and public affairs. "While $400 million in the grand scheme of things might seem like decimal dust, it's hugely important for universities that rely on N.S.F. funding."

    The threatened programs include a $50 million plan to build a supercomputer that universities would use to push back frontiers in science and engineering; a $310 million observatory meant to study the ocean environment from the seabed to the surface; a $62 million contribution to a global program of polar research involving 10 other nations; and a $98 million ship to explore the Arctic, including the thinning of its sheath of floating sea ice.

    A number of quotes are included but one that sums up the thoughts of most of the community is from Mike Lubell at the American Physical Society, a fellow member of the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation.

    "The consequences for American science will be disastrous. The message to young scientists and industry leaders, alike, will be, ‘Look outside the U.S. if you want to succeed.’ "

    January 05, 2007

    CR Action Needed

    This action alert was sent to the Computing Research Advocacy Network (CRAN). To join CRAN, visit CRAN.

    The chairs of the 110th Congressional Appropriations Committees have announced their intention to pass a continuing resolution (CR) for all of FY07, rather than complete appropriations under regular order or in an omnibus bill. This will effectively freeze funding for all science agencies at FY2006 levels, endangering significant increases in federal science funding planned for FY 2007! It is important that we do not lose the progress we have made on R&D funding so far this year.

    Please contact your Representative and both Senators as soon as possible to urge them to protect the increases for FY 2007 already approved by the full House and the Senate Appropriations Committee for the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Department of Energy Office of Science in the FY 2007 CR. All House and Senate actions to date have provided increased funding for the sciences in FY07 up until the CR.

    Congress has returned to Washington and will shortly consider the CR so we must get the message to them quickly. Please consider calling or faxing your Senators and Representative's offices with your support for including the increased funding in a CR. A phone call should take just a few minutes and is the best way to impact your Members of Congress. A faxed letter is the next best thing. Though e-mail is convenient, it's not as effective as a call or fax to your representative, so please consider picking up the phone or firing off a fax.

    Also, please send a copy of your letter (or any notes from your call) to Melissa Norr at or fax to 202-667-1066. Having a portfolio of letters of support from our member institutions will aid us greatly in making the case for more support for IT R&D on the Hill.

    For more information on this issue and sample letters, please visit: FY07 CR

    A list of representative contact information is here: US House Members.

    If you don't know your representative, you can find out who it is here:
    US House of Representatives

    For the U.S. Senate, you can find phone numbers and fax numbers via US Senate.

    Permanent R&D Tax Credit Legislation Introduced

    The new chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus (MT), introduced legislation on the first day of the 110th Congress to permanently extend the R&D tax credit an article in Congressional Quarterly stated (Sub Req'd).

    The R&D tax credit has always been a priority of the high-tech community on Capitol Hill and there have been previous attempts to make it permanent rather than extending it each year. However, the cost of such a permanent tax credit has generally kept this from happening. After much wrangling (most not related to the merits of the R&D tax credit itself, but rather the other tax proposals it was packaged with), the 109th Congress passed the R&D tax credit for 2006 retroactively in the waning days of the session in December and included the extension through 2007.

    The CQ article also states that competitiveness issues will be a priority for Baucus as the chair of the Finance Committee. We certainly hope that is true, not just for the Finance Committee, but for all of Congress.

    December 12, 2006

    Dems Elect to Punt FY 2007 Appropriations, Placing ACI Increases in Jeopardy

    On Friday we noted that the Republican Congressional leadership had effectively given up hope of resolving the 11 outstanding appropriations bills for FY 2007, including the bills that would provide the increases in science funding called for in the American Competitiveness Initiative we've talked about so frequently in this space. Instead, Congress passed a "continuing resolution" that would fund government at FY 2006 levels or lower through February 15, 2007, when the new Democratic leadership would be able to take its crack at passing the unfinished bills.

    Now it appears the Democrats have decided against trying to complete the process. (sub. req'd) reports today that Rep. David Obey (D-WI) and Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), the incoming chairs of the House and Senate appropriations committees, have given up hope of solving the FY 2007 impasse and elected to move a yearlong stopgap measure when the new Congress convenes next year:

    "Unfortunately, there are no good options available to us to complete the unfinished work of the Republican Congress," Obey and Byrd said. “After discussions with our colleagues, we have decided to dispose of the Republican budget leftovers by passing a yearlong joint resolution.

    "We will do our best to make whatever limited adjustments are possible within the confines of the Republican budget to address the nation’s most important policy concerns."

    This is obviously bad news for those of us in the science community who have worked hard to win increases contained in the ACI and in the House and Senate FY 07 appropriations bills. Unless ACI merits inclusion among "the nation's most important policy concerns," it's likely that the increases that had been slated for NSF, NIST and the DOE Office of Science in FY 07 will be lost and the timetable for doubling the research funding for those agencies set back another year.

    CRA, along with many members of the science and high-tech industry communities, will be working hard over the next few weeks to make just that case -- that the increases called for in the ACI and the Democratic Innovation Agenda do merit inclusion among the nation's most important policy concerns. There's a chance the Democratic leadership will agree -- though I'm not going to go out on a limb and try and assess that chance yet. The innovation agenda has been one of the top Democratic priorities and was something that incoming Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has indicated would be among the first issues considered under the new Congress.

    We'll bring you updates as we get further information and also detail ways in which you can help make the case for research. For now, if you haven't become a member of CRA's Computing Research Advocacy Network, this would be a great time to join. We're going to need your help....

    November 17, 2006

    Task Force Releases Benchmarks II

    As mentioned previously in this space, the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation held a press conference for the release of the Benchmarks II report on Thursday. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, David Abshire, President of the Center for the Study of the Presidency, and Larry Wortzel, Chairman of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission and Vice President for Foreign Policy at the Heritage Foundation addressed a full house of Congressional staff, reporters, and other interested members of the DC crowd. This year’s Benchmarks report, called “Measuring the Moment: Innovation, National Security, and Economic Competitiveness,” focused more on defense and homeland security related research than the previous report.

    National Journal’s Technology Daily and both ran an article on the event and report. A bit from the article:

    A group of high-tech leaders and national security experts is asking President Bush to include basic defense research in his American competitiveness initiative.

    The Task Force on the Future of American Innovation backed the request Thursday with a new report that warns that while funding for military research and development is at a record high, recent increases have focused on applying existing ideas to new weapons and equipment.

    "We have been under-investing in the basic research needed for the next-generation military technology," the report warned. The task force was formed in 2004 to advocate for more federal support for research in the physical sciences and engineering…

    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the long-term goal should be not just combating terrorism but leading in science by investing in national security advances. "Otherwise we'll have opponents that have scientific capabilities we don't understand," Gingrich said.

    He added that his biggest mistake as House speaker in the mid-1990s was not also tripling the National Science Foundation budget when Republicans doubled the National Institutes of Health budget.

    We’ll keep you updated on the Task Force’s activities, press coverage of the report, and any impact it might have moving forward as we work with the Congress through the end of the year and into the next budget cycle.

    A PDF of the Benchmarks II report can be found here.

    Highlighting Cyberinfrastructure

    NSF Director Arden Bement encouraged colleges and universities to expand high speed networking tools as a path to innovation in a speech to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Technology Forum yesterday. The Chronicle article on the speech is available for free here for the next five days and then to subscribers only here.

    A couple highlights from the speech and article:

    "Leadership in cyberinfrastructure may well become the major determinant in measuring pre-eminence in higher education among nations," he said. "Indeed, to be even more provocative, I would suggest that leadership in cyberinfrastructure may determine America's continued ability to innovate -- and thus our ability to compete successfully in the global arena...."

    Mr. Bement said cyberinfrastructure was a "comprehensive phenomenon that involves creation, dissemination, preservation, and application of knowledge." He said it was not just about building new networking tools, but new "norms of practice and rules, incentives, and constraints that shape individual and collective action."

    November 15, 2006

    Task Force Event Thursday!

    In the previous entry, I mentioned that the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation (of which CRA is a member) was planning an event on November 16th to release its "Benchmarks II" report and press Congress to finish its good work on funding the President's American Competitiveness Initiative. Well, we can now share some details about it. Should be a good event!:



    • Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House
    • David Abshire, President, Center for the Study of the Presidency, former Special Counsel to President Reagan and former Ambassador to NATO
    • Larry Wortzel, Chairman, U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission and Vice President for Foreign Policy, Heritage Foundation
    • Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), House Armed Services Committee.

    1. Participants will challenge the Administration and Congress to provide greater Defense Department funding of basic research.
    2. Participants will support full funding of President Bush's American Competitiveness Initiative.
    3. Release of the 2006 Benchmarks Report of the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation. To read 2005 report, go to (pdf).

    Reserve Officers Association
    One Constitution Avenue, NE
    5th Floor Conference Room

    WHEN: Thursday, November 16, 11:00 AM to Noon

    - # # # -

    The Task Force on the Future of American Innovation (, comprised of organizations from industry and academia, advocates increased federal support for research in the physical sciences and engineering.

    Formed in 2004, the Task Force urges strong, sustained increases for research budgets at the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy Office of Science, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Department of Defense.

    For more information, to RSVP, or to request an embargoed copy of the report, please contact:

    Anne Caliguiri

    Barry Toiv

    Watch this space for all the details....

    November 10, 2006

    Post-Election: Where do we stand?

    So, the bloodshed appears to have ended for the moment and the Dems are now in charge of both the House and the Senate. The obvious question is: "What's in it for us? (the computing research community)" The short answer at the moment is: I dunno. Lots of questions remain unanswered about how the remainder of the 109th Congress will play out and how the 110th Congress will organize and move forward, but here are some thoughts.

    The immediate legislative concern of many of us in the science advocacy community is the status of the NSF, NIST and DOE appropriations increases called for in the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and currently tied up in the unfinished Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Energy and Water appropriations bills. The big question is whether the current congressional leadership will want to make progress on the bills in the lame-duck session starting next week, or simply punt the problems to the Democrats in the new Congress next year. The current conventional wisdom is that the GOP will probably push through a new "continuing resolution" that will continue to fund the federal government at the FY 06 levels through February 2007 and leave the challenge of passing the 11 outstanding appropriations bills to the Democratic leadership to deal with when they take over. Part of the motivation here is that the FY 07 Defense Appropriations bill passed by Congress before the election actually busted the budget caps by about $5 billion -- money that would have to be found in the remaining bills. 

    There is some incentive for taking care of business now on both sides of the aisle, if it can be done. One reason is that these appropriations bills are, as usual, loaded with earmarks for just about every member of Congress to insure their passage. Starting the current approps process over from scratch next Congress puts those earmarks at risk. Another motivation is that the Democrats would rather not have to make the tough decisions that will be required to hit the budget caps with the current approps bills -- and starting from scratch on FY 07, while simultaneously beginning the FY 08 budget process, is a lot to do. 

    As we've noted before, we would much rather Congress take care of business now -- either by passing the appropriations bills individually (under "regular order") or as part of an omnibus that preserves the ACI increases. Passing a continuing resolution and beginning the process anew in February puts all of the ACI gains we've worked hard for this year at risk (at least for FY 07). It does appear that Congress -- or at least the Senate -- will be in session for much of December working on the confirmation of Robert Gates as the new Secretary of Defense (more on that below). So there's at least the opportunity for Congress to act during the lame-duck to finish their work on appropriations. Just not sure there's the will. 

    CRA will help make the case for acting now at an event next week we're participating in as part of the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation. You'll recall that the Task Force released a report last year ("Benchmarks of Our Innovation Future") that we endorsed (and actually helped produce) that helped drive much of the debate within the Administration about the need to address some of the competitiveness concerns that American universities and, increasingly, American companies were raising. We've updated the report for 2006, added a bit of a national security angle as well, and will be releasing it at a press conference on Thursday, Nov 16th, with some remarks by a few Washington notables (keep tuned here for details...should be worth the wait). The point of the report is to note that though the U.S. continues to hold a dominant position in the global economy, that position isn't guaranteed and, indeed, many trends suggest it's at risk long-term. The report highlights the importance of federal support for fundamental research as a key point in the innovation chain necessary for insuring our continued global competitiveness. We'll use the event to call on Congress to finish their work on ACI-related issues -- especially finishing the already agreed-to but not passed appropriations bills that would fund NSF, NIST and DOE. We'll have more on the report in a few days.

    The industry members of the Task Force have also once again chosen to weigh in heavily. Most recently, the Business Roundtable today ran two nice (pdf) full-page ads (pdf) -- one in the Washington Post, one in the NY Times -- urging Congress to act in a bipartisan way and address the outstanding competitiveness issues.

    Over the longer term (at least for FY 08 and FY 09), we should be in good shape with a Democratic congress. The Democratic Innovation Agenda was very similar to what became the President's American Competitiveness Agenda. Both are heavily influenced by the National Academies "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" report. The Democrats might place more emphasis on federal education efforts (NSF EHR) and "applied and industrial" R&D (NIST ATP and MEP) than the Republicans have, and may place more emphasis on workforce/offshoring issues, but should otherwise share a similar commitment to increasing the research budgets of NSF, NIST, NOAA, NIH and DOE.

    There are, however, a few things though that could skew the picture a bit. The first is that it's not clear exactly how Democratic priorities will impact upcoming apporpriations. While support for the federal role in fundamental research is bipartisan at the "meta" level, there are some differences at the agency level. Though the Democrats were generally supportive of the "physical sciences" thrust of the ACI, they were not as pleased with the relative deemphasis of NIH funding in the President's plan. Because the budget environment hasn't changed significantly -- there will still not be any significant amount of "new" money in the budget -- any effort to increase the relatively flat NIH budget will necissitate cuts elsewhere. Will that put other research budgets at risk?

    Another potentially complicating factor is that we have no idea at this point whether the Democratic leadership will want to make significant changes to the existing committee structure -- something well within their power to do. Altering how the appropriations committees are laid out, or even how the authorizing committees are assembled (what subcommittees will exist, what their jurisdictions will be), could have a substantial impact on the way science policy gets implemented in Congress. (You can see here what we thought about Republican plans to reorganize the committee structure back in '05.)

    One other change -- one that has the potential to improve the computing research community's fortunes a bit -- is the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as Sec. of Defense and the nomination of current Texas A&M University president Robert Gates to succeed him. As a close friend of the President, Gates has, for the last couple of years, been one of the people the higher-ed community has looked to often to help carry the message of the importance of federal support for fundamental research to the Administration. As a result, he should be familiar not only with our basic issues, but also have a decent familiarity with the science advocacy community here in town. Hopefully, that means he'd be a bit more open to listening to the concerns of our community than the current DOD leadership has been.

    So lots of changes ahead, but much of the agenda -- at least the agenda related to issues important to the computing research community -- will likely remain the same. We'll have additional updates when we have some sense of how the Democrats and GOP will choose to organize their leadership and committee structures. And we'll provide quick updates as soon as we know anything at all about how appropriations are going to shake out. 

    Update: From today's Washington Post:

    Pelosi said that Democratic leaders want to demonstrate their effectiveness, and build up some trust with the White House, by tackling legislation that will have bipartisan support. Bush's "innovation agenda," laid out last year in his State of the Union address, has largely lain dormant. Democrats would like to take up Bush's proposals to expand funding for basic research and alternative energy sources such as ethanol, she said.
    So, that's a good thing.

    From "Reid, Pelosi Expected to Keep Tight Rein in Both Chambers."

    October 02, 2006

    Homeland Security Appropriations

    The Homeland Security Appropriations were passed last week before Congress went home to campaign. The news is mixed with the total appropriations for R&D coming in at $838 million —more than either the House or the Senate recommended individually. The cyber security R&D program will see an increase of $3.3 million to $20 million, up from $16.7 million in FY2006. While it's nice that there's an increase to the cyber security account, the level is still well below "adequate," as PITAC pointed out last year in its report on the federal cyber security research effort Cyber Security R&D: A Crisis of Prioritization. Ed Lazowska, former Chair of PITAC, put it nicely in this interview with CIO Magazine last year:

    Most egregiously, the Department of Homeland Security simply doesn't get cybersecurity. DHS has a science and technology (S&T) budget of more than a billion dollars annually. Of this, [only] $18 million is devoted to cybersecurity. For FY06, DHS's S&T budget is slated to go up by more than $200 million, but the allocation to cybersecurity will decrease to $17 million! It's also worth noting that across DHS's entire S&T budget, only about 10 percent is allocated to anything that might reasonably be called "research" rather than "deployment."
    Hopefully, this is high on the agenda of the Department's new Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Telecommunications, Greg Garcia, who was appointed to the post on September 18th.

    Further bad news in the R&D section is that University Programs received $50 million, which is less than the $62 million appropriated last year and below the President’s request of $51.9 million.

    Congress used the appropriations bill to express its displeasure with the way Homeland Security S&T has been managed and its expectation that things must improve if S&T is to get any increased appropriations in the future. In fact, Congress expressly withheld $50 million from the R&D budget until the office presents, and Congress approves, “a report prepared by the Under Secretary of Science and Technology that describes the progress to address financial management deficiencies, improve its management controls, and implement performance measures and evaluations.” They also included language requiring a hearing within 60 days of enactment on “the University-Based Centers of Excellence Program goals for fiscal year 2007 and outcomes projected for each center for the next three years.”

    As the bill has not yet been signed by the President (although it is expected to be), the Department is operating under a continuing resolution extending the FY2006 budget numbers.

    Posted by MelissaNorr at 03:51 PM
    Posted to FY07 Appropriations | Funding | Policy | Research | Security

    September 15, 2006

    CRA Members Visit Capitol Hill

    As part of the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), CRA brought participants to the 2nd annual CNSF Fall Hill Visits Day this week. The overall visits brought over 80 people from many scientific disciplines to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers and staff regarding NSF funding. Robert Constable from Cornell University, Mary Jane Irwin from Penn State University, Joe Kearney from the University of Iowa, Charles Nicholas from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and Michael Oudshoorn from Montana State University, below with Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), ably represented CRA and met with 30 Congressional offices to emphasize the importance of NSF funding to computer research and innovation. The participants shared their personal research and funding stories and many others from their universities. The message was well received on the Hill with many offices encouraging participants to follow up in the future with stories or problems involving research and funding.

    Baucus and Oudshoorn1.jpg As we’ve noted before, meetings between scientists and members of Congress and their staff are an incredibly effective tool in keeping Congress interested and engaged in the needs of scientists. The examples of research done in a particular district are invaluable to a member of Congress and can be a real boon for science when it comes time for appropriations votes. It’s also important to point out that Congressional offices will not turn away constituents who ask for a meeting although it often means you will meet with a staff member instead of your Senator or Representative. Don’t discount those meetings—Congressional staffers are the eyes and ears of their bosses!

    We highly encourage all members of the CRA community to get in touch with their Congressional delegation, either by visiting Washington, DC or going to their local offices. If you have any questions or concerns about setting up appointments or meeting with Congressional staff, please let us know. We’re happy to help any way that we can.

    Posted by MelissaNorr at 02:28 PM
    Posted to CRA | FY07 Appropriations | Funding | People | Policy | Research

    September 08, 2006

    DoE Announces New Funding for Computational Science Projects

    The Department of Energy announced new funding for computational science projects over the next three to five years. The press release describes the projects as "aimed at accelerating research in designing new materials, developing future energy sources, studying global climate change, improving environmental cleanup methods and understanding physics from the tiniest particles to the massive explosions of supernovae." The new projects will be sponsored by the DoE's Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) program and will be called SciDAC-2. These projects will rely heavily on high performance computing.

    The announcement states:

    In support of these scientific applications, approximately $24.3 million in annual awards will allow SciDAC-2 to establish nine Centers for Enabling Technologies. Multidisciplinary teams will be led by national laboratories and universities and will focus on meeting the specific needs of SciDAC science applications researchers as they move toward petascale computing. The centers will specialize in applied mathematics, computer science, distributed computing or visualization and will be closely tied to specific science applications.

    SciDAC-2 will also increase the presence of the program in the academic community by creating four university-led SciDAC institutes with thirteen participating universities. The institutes will receive approximately $8.2 million in awards annually. Through hands-on workshops and tutorials, the SciDAC institutes will help a broad range of researchers prepare their applications to take advantage of the increasing capabilities of supercomputing centers around the country as well as help foster the next generation of computational scientists.

    Information on all of the programs and Centers can be found at SciDAC.

    Posted by MelissaNorr at 02:13 PM
    Posted to Funding | Research

    August 03, 2006

    SBIR Increase from Research Agencies’ Budgets

    New legislation has been introduced in the Senate to expand the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. While this is not in and of itself a bad thing, the correlating increase in the budget could actually hit the research agencies hard. The SBIR program is funded by a tax on federal research agencies (those doing more than $100,000,000 in R&D). Currently the agencies are required to contribute a minimum 2.5 percent of their total budget to the SBIR program. The new legislation, S. 3778 - the Small Business Reauthorization and Improvements Act of 2006, would increase the percentage to a minimum of 3 percent in FY 2007 and increase it by 0.5 percent each fiscal year until it reaches 5 percent in 2011 where it would remain until legislation is passed to increase it again.

    The irony in this proposal is that it will actually decrease the amount of money the agencies can spend on their core research missions, which may have impacts on the nation's innovative capacity beyond any expansion of the SBIR program. At a time when Congress and the Administration seem to have agreed on the importance of increasing support for fundamental research as a way to improve the environment for innovation and help ensure the nation's continued competitiveness, this proposal actually represents a step backwards.

    The science advocacy community is beginning to organize to respond to this new legislation. We will keep you posted here when more details on the effort become available.

    July 28, 2006

    Senate Appropriators Target Cognitive Computing, IT Research Again

    Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) approved its version of the FY 2007 Defense Appropriations bill and once again, as they did last year, included a significant cut to DARPA's "Cognitive Computing" program. In addition, the SAC approved cuts to both the "Information and Communications Technology" account and even the "Computer Science Study Group" activity at DARPA.

    Here are the details:

    Information and Communications Technology: President requested $243 million in his budget for ICT in FY 07, an increase of $47 million (or 24 percent) over FY 06.

    The House included $243 million in their version of the FY 07 Defense Approps.

    The SAC approved $229 million, a cut of $13.4 million, or 5 percent, vs. the request -- an increase of $34 million over FY 06 (17 percent).

    Programs that would suffer cuts are "Responsive Computing Architectures" (-$3.9 million), "Security-Aware Systems" (-$3 million) and "Automated Speech and Text Exploitation in Multiple Languages" (-$6.5 million).

    Cognitive Computing Systems: The President requested $220 million for FY 07, an increase of $57 million (35 percent) over FY 06.

    The House included the full $220 million in their bill.

    The SAC approved $149 million, a cut of $70.8 million (32 percent) vs. the request, and a cut of $14 million over FY 06 (9 percent).

    Programs targeted are "Integrated Cognitive Systems" (-$60 million), "Learning Locomotion and Navigation," (-$3.8 million) and "Improved Warfighter Information Processing" (-$7 million).

    In addition, SAC cut the Computer Science Study Group at DARPA -- established this year to help expose young faculty to DOD-oriented problems in computer science -- from the requested level of $6.6 million in FY 07 to $3 million.

    This is obviously bad news. While the ICT cut is really just the slowing of the rate of growth of ICT programs, the cuts to Cognitive Computing represent a real scaling back of the program -- back to FY 05 budget levels.

    CRA will be working to oppose the cuts along with representatives from a number of the institutions affected. (The cut to the Integrated Cognitive Systems account alone would impact more than 20 universities and research institutions.)

    The SAC bill may come before the Senate as early as Tuesday, August 1st. Senate leadership hopes to have debate on the bill wrapped up by the end of the week, before Congress sets off on its annual August recess. The next chance to contest the cut would then be during the conference for the bill, which could happen in September.

    Keep a watch here for the latest details in the effort to oppose the cuts. The case we laid out last year remains true today:

    Research in learning, reasoning, and cognitive systems is focused on intelligent intrepretations of signals and data, on controlling unmanned vehicles, and on amplifying human effectiveness. Its aim is to reduce U.S. casualties by providing improved command and control and tactical planning against adversaries, as well as improved training systems. Work in this area includes research responsible for the Command Post of the Future (CPOF) -- a software system currently deployed and very widely-used in Iraq to coordinate battle plans and integrate multiple intelligence reports, providing U.S. forces the capability to plan, execute and replan much faster than the enemy's decision cycle and cited by Secretary Rumsfeld as the major contributor to victory in the first phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It's also cricital to the research and development of autonomous, unmanned vehicles that amplify our warfighting capability while reducing the number of U.S. forces in harm's way. Cutting support so significantly for this research will hamper advancements in defense-related IT in the short- and long-term and will slow technological advancements essential to current and future military operations in Iraq and around the globe.

    It also runs completely counter to recent concerns of Congress, PITAC and the DOD's Defense Science Board. All three bodies have raised strong concerns about the shift of DARPA resources away from fundamental research at universities, especially in information technology. The Cognitive Computing program is one area where DARPA has responded positively to these concerns.

    Anyway, this is a bit of a dark cloud over the otherwise very positive news we've received all year long (topped by the House and Senate both approving full funding for the ACI in their approps bills), but we've got a reasonable chance of mitigating this somewhat, provided we start moving now. 

    Update: (Aug 1, 2006) -- It appears now that the Senate won't be able to begin consideration of its version of the FY 2007 Defense Appropriations bill until after the August recess -- which is good news because it gives us a bit more time. However, it also means we're a bit more likely to see another omnibus appropriations bill at the end of the session, which poses its own set of challenges....

    Update 2: (Aug 1, 2006, 9:30 pm) -- So, I should have known that as soon as I posted the update above, the situation would change. The Defense Appropriations bill came to the floor this afternoon and debate will continue for the remainder of the week. The plan is to finish it before the August recess begins -- which means the Senate leadership would like to have it done by Friday or the weekend. One positive is an amendment planned by Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) that would appropriate an additional $45 million for basic research accounts at DOD. Here are the details:

  • $12 million in additional funds for Army University Research Initiatives (PE 0601103A)
  • $13 million in additional funds for Navy URI (PE 0601103N)
  • $5 million in additional funds for Air Force URI (PE 0601103F)
  • $6 million in additional funds for the DARPA (PE 0601101E) for its University Research Program in Computer Science and Cybersecurity
  • $9 million in additional funds for the SMART National Defense Education Program (PE 0601120D8Z)
  • This amendment is very similar to an amendment Kennedy and Collins introduced to the Defense Authorization early this summer, which passed unanimously after gaining the co-sponsorship of 21 other senators. We'll pass along further details as we get them.

    Update 3: (August 7th) -- The Senate didn't manage to finish up debate on the Defense Approps bill before the recess, so they'll take the bill up again when they return in September. No word on the fate of the Kennedy-Collins amendment, but it appears we've got some time to buttress support for it and for heading off the cuts to Cognitive Computing and ICT....

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 05:14 PM
    Posted to FY07 Appropriations | Funding | Policy

    July 25, 2006

    Getting Scientists and Congress to Mingle...

    One of the most effective "tools" the science advocacy community has in making the case for federal support of science is, well, scientists. Those occasions in which researchers are able to sit down with Members of Congress and discuss their own work do more to advance the cause of science than five meetings with staff like me. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, scientists tend to be pretty smart and well-spoken. They've thought a lot about their work and usually understand how to explain it to lay people (despite the usual stereotypes about scientists, it's a rare exception to this rule). More importantly, they're usually pretty good at conveying why their work matters, and to do it in a way that makes any passion they feel for the research palpable. If they have the opportunity to spend 5, 10, 15 minutes with a Member, it's pretty good odds that Member will leave the meeting with a better appreciation for the work and a sense of connection to the researcher.

    And that's no small thing. When the time comes to make decisions about priorities, a Member's personal connection to a researcher, an understanding of what research goes on in his or her district, and an understanding of the long-term benefits of that research all can help swing the balance in favor of science. They are by no means the only factors that go into that decision, but they're certainly weights we want to have on our side of the balance.

    So I'm especially pleased to point out occasions when members of our community take time out of their schedules to spend time in Washington, mingling with policymakers and trying to convey a little of what it is they do. One occasion CRA tries to take advantage of every year is the Coalition for National Science Funding's Capitol Hill Science Exhibition and Reception, held this year on June 7th.

    Each year, CNSF brings together 30-35 of its members to stage a science fair of sorts on Capitol Hill for Members of Congress and their staff as a way to highlight the important and interesting work enabled by the federal investment in basic research at the National Science Foundation. This year, CRA was well-represented at the Exhibition by Lucy Sanders and Katie Ertz from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). lucy_katie_sm.jpg

    The NCWIT display occupied a unique niche at this year's exhibition. While the great majority of booths highlighted particular research efforts of NSF, NCWIT's was one of the few (if the only) to focus on NSF's broader role of developing the science and engineering workforce. In particular, Lucy and Katie were able to bring some attention to the continued need to focus on increasing the participation of underrepresented populations within that workforce.

    lucy_ehlers_sm.jpgThe event was quite well-attended and Lucy and Katie found a number of willing listeners among Members of Congress (like Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI), seen at left), key congressional staffers, and a surprising number of agency personnel. There were times when it was quite difficult to move around the room, the bodies were packed so tightly. CNSF counted more than 300 attendees this year, including six Members of Congress, despite a very busy day in the House -- a very encouraging symbolic display of support for science.

    Thanks to Lucy and Katie for their willingness to travel to DC and participate and for making the case so effectively. They join a growing list of CRA member institutions who have participated in CNSF Exhibitions, including James Hendler and his colleagues from the Mind Lab at the University of Marylandin 2005, DK Panda and his students from Ohio State University in 2004, Tim Finin and his colleagues and students from the University of Maryland Baltimore County in 2003, and Thad Starner and Janet Kolodner of Georgia Tech in 2002. If you're at a CRA-member institution and are interested in showing of your NSF-sponsored research at a future Hill event, drop me a line!

    This is also a reminder that it's not too late to participate in CNSF's upcoming Fall Congressional Visits Day, scheduled for September 13, 2006 (with an orientation session on September 12th). This is a great opportunity to make sure computing researchers are represented as the research community goes up to the Hill to speak with one voice about the importance of the federal role in supporting research. CRA's Melissa Norr has all the details.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 01:00 AM
    Posted to CRA | Diversity in Computing | Events | Funding | People | Policy | Research

    July 11, 2006

    First Details of Senate Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations...

    ...and they look pretty good! Better than we thought, certainly.

    You'll recall we worried that the President's American Competitiveness Initiative would face problems in the Senate due to the need to pay for cuts to NOAA and NASA in the President's budget. But the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee marked up their bill today (link doesn't render on my Mac, however) and managed to get NOAA $1.1 billion more than the House included in their bill, and about $126 million more for NASA, without carving it out of the other science agencies. NSF and NIST managed to make it out of the markup with significant increases still intact. I haven't seen the mark yet, so I don't know all the details. But the short story appears to be that NIST will get its requested level and NSF gets almost everything requested -- about $29 million shy of the request, actually -- but still a healthy increase of $410 million over FY 06.

    Here's the detail the committee's released so far (comparisons to the House bill in parentheses):

    • NIST: $764 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (vs. $627 million in the House bill) -- $11.9 million above the FY06 enacted level and $182 million above the budget request. $106 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) (vs. $92 million in the House). No mention of ATP funding (zeroed in the House). It's not clear how much of that $764 million would go to the NIST Labs, but considering the House included the full $104 million called for in the ACI in their smaller allocation, odds are decent that NIST Labs will actually receive their requested funding.
    • NSF: $5.99 billion for National Science Foundation: $410 million above the FY06 enacted level; $29 million less than the House bill.
    • NOAA: $4.43 billion for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (vs. $3.4 billion in the House bill): $536 million above the FY06 enacted level, excluding supplemental appropriations, and $753 million above the budget request.
    • NASA: $16.8 billion for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (vs. $16.7 billion in the House): $126 million above the FY06 enacted level.

    If these numbers survive the full committee markup -- scheduled for Thursday -- and then again on the Senate floor, then NSF and NIST (and likely DOE Office of Science, when it gets its turn in the Energy and Water bill) will just about be assured of getting nearly the level of increase called for by the President back in January. The only possible monkey wrenches at that point -- at least that I can see -- would be Presidential veto (unlikely) or some sort of appropriations meltdown that would lead to another across-the-board cut as happened last year. Even then, it's hard to imagine an across-the-board cut stunting much of the growth NSF, NIST and DOE SC should experience as a result of these appropriations.

    Further good news is a recent indication from OMB that the out-year increases for ACI called for in the President's FY07 budget are likely to be realized, at least in the next budget (FY 08) -- meaning the Administration doesn't see ACI as a one-shot deal; it's committed to a multi-year increase for these agencies.

    So, we're in pretty good shape at the moment (knocking on wood).

    Of course, we'll have more details as they come available....

    July 10, 2006

    Hill Visits

    CRA is a member of the Coalition for National Science Funding -- an organization comprising over 100 different scientific societies, universities, and industrial advocates for federal support of fundamental research. As part of their advocacy efforts, CNSF sponsors a "Hill Visits Day," which is an opportunity for members of the research community to come to Washington and chat with Members of Congress and their staff about the importance of the federal role in supporting long-term research.

    CNSF will hold its second annual Hill Visits Day on September 13, 2006 with orientation on September 12. CRA invites researchers from its member institutions to take part. 

    With President Bush's introduction of the American Competitiveness Initiative calling for a doubling of federal support for fundamental research in the physical sciences, computing, mathematics and engineering over the next 10 years, and the House of Representatives endorsement of that plan, the opportunity for seeing significant increases at agencies important to our community -- NSF, DOE Office of Science, and NIST, in particular -- is better than at any time in recent memory. But it's important that Congress continue to hear from researchers about the importance of sustained support for research. 

    CNSF Hill Visits Day presents the unique opportunity for the research community to speak with one voice. Participating in CNSF Hill Visits Day gives us the opportunity to make our case again to Congress, but to do so as part of a larger and multidisciplinary group with even greater impact. 

    A CNSF subcommittee will create interdisciplinary teams of visitors and make all the appointments, so if you would like to participate, please contact Melissa Norr at by August 16 with your name and full contact information. 

    For more information please visit our previous blog postings and the CNSF web site.

    To join the Computing Research Advocacy Network (CRAN) sign up here.

    Posted by MelissaNorr at 02:05 PM
    Posted to American Competitiveness Initiative | Events | Funding

    June 29, 2006

    With Passage of SSJC Appropriations, House Votes to Fully Fund ACI

    The House today approved increasing funding for two key science agencies called out for increases in the President's American Competitiveness Initiative last February. The House passed the FY 2007 Science, State, Justice, Commerce Appropriation bill by a large margin (393-23), approving an increase of nearly 8 percent to the budget of the National Science Foundation and 14 percent to core research programs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. With the passage of the SSJC, along with the passage on May 24, 2006, of the FY 2007 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, the House has now approved all of the funding the President requested for the three key agencies targeted by the ACI: NSF, NIST and the Department of Energy's Office of Science.

    As we noted in our previous coverage of the SSJC, there was some concern expressed by both Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), the sponsor of the bill, and those of us in the science advocacy community that the increases for NSF and NIST called for in the bill might be at risk on the House floor. The fear was that Members of Congress who are fans of programs that received cuts in the bill (as many did) would seek to address those cuts in amendments. Because of the House rules, any amendment seeking to increase funding for one program in the bill must also seek to offset that increase by cutting program funding elsewhere in the bill. Given that the ACI agencies received very healthy increases in an otherwise austere bill, there was a fear that the ACI increases would be juicy targets for Members not as concerned about US innovation and competitiveness. However, that fear appears to have been unfounded, as the funding levels approved by the committee last week emerged unscathed in the floor debate yesterday and today.

    As we noted previously, though, those increase remain at risk in the Senate, as appropriators there struggle with how to mitigate significant cuts to NOAA in both the House bill and the President's budget request. We'll have more on the Senate appropriations effort as the details emerge.

    However, it's hard to understate the significance of the House action today. The House acted to reverse a long-standing lack of support for research in the fundamental physical sciences, mathematics, computing and engineering. In doing so, they have sent a very clear message that this research forms the core of our economic and scientific future and is worthy of federal support. Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) put it well in his remarks on the House floor:

    These agencies, which are not exactly on the tip of everyone's tongue, are keystones of our nation's economic future. Our nation will remain strong and prosperous only if we remain innovative. And we will only remain innovative if we have the most robust research and education enterprise in the world. And it is these agencies that help enable the U.S. to lead the world in science, math and engineering education and in research.
    So, the community owes big thanks to Rep. Wolf, Ranking Member Alan Mollohan (D-WV), Rep. Boehlert, and Science Committee Ranking Member Bart Gordon (D-TN), as well as to the other 389 Members of Congress who voted in support of securing America's innovative future.

    June 20, 2006

    CRA Signs Letters to Leadership

    CRA has signed onto two letters to the Congressional leadership urging floor time for innovation legislation.

    The first letter to Senator Frist asks for prompt floor time to debate S. 2802, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act and S. 2197, the Protecting America's Competitive Edge through Energy Act. Here is the text of the letter:

    The following leading science, technology, educational, business and trade associations are writing to urge you to consider S. 2802 the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2006 and S. 2197 Protecting America's Competitive Edge Through Energy Act of 2006 or (PACE-Energy Act) for floor consideration as soon as possible. Both pieces of legislation respond to recommendations contained in the Council on Competitiveness’ Innovate America Report and the National Academies’ Rising Above the Gathering Storm Report.

    In a world where many nations compete on the basis of cost and quality, innovation is the key arbiter of competitiveness. Other countries are increasing investments in basic research and better-educating their science and engineering workforce. We must respond by strengthening our capability to innovate in an increasingly challenging, knowledge-based, global economy. America’s strategic role in world affairs is intertwined with the global economic marketplace. We must act now to ensure our leadership role in economic and strategic affairs for generations to come.

    America has many resources to accomplish this task—not the least of which is our ability to recognize when change is required and action is necessary. We urge you to move expeditiously to bring both of these bills before the full Senate. Thank you for your leadership and consideration.

    The second letter to Speaker Hastert and Representative Boehner requests floor time for H.R. 5356 and H.R. 5358, two bills that would authorize STEM scholarships, teacher training, and early-career research funding at NSF and DoE's Office of Science. The text of the letter is:

    As leaders in the science, technology, education, and business communities, we are writing to urge you to schedule floor time to consider important measures approved recently by the House Science Committee—H.R. 5356 and H.R. 5358. These bills would authorize Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics or STEM scholarships, teacher training and early-career research at the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

    In a world where many nations compete on the basis of cost and quality, innovation is the key arbiter of competitiveness. Other countries are increasing investments in basic research and better-educating their science and engineering workforce. We must respond by strengthening our capability to innovate in an increasingly challenging, knowledge-based, global economy. America’s strategic role in world affairs is intertwined with the global economic marketplace. We must act now to ensure our leadership role in economic and strategic affairs for generations to come.

    America has many resources to accomplish this task—not the least of which is our ability to recognize when change is required and action is necessary. We urge you to move expeditiously to bring both of these bills before the full Senate. Thank you for your leadership and consideration.

    With the shortened legislative calendar, if the bills don't get floor time soon then they probably won't be debated this year.

    Posted by MelissaNorr at 11:17 AM
    Posted to American Competitiveness Initiative | Funding | Policy

    June 15, 2006

    Computing Leaders Praise House Appropriatiors for Innovation Funding

    Reacting to yesterday's good news, CRA and ACM's U.S. Public Policy Committee issued a joint statement yesterday thanking Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and his colleagues for their efforts. Here's the full text:

    June 15, 2006


    Washington, DC -- Leaders of the Computing Research Association (CRA) and ACM's U.S. Public Policy Committee (USACM) today commended Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and his colleagues on a House Appropriations Subcommittee for fully supporting the President's American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) in legislation passed by the subcommittee today.

    The bill, approved by the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Science, State, Justice and Commerce, would provide an 8 percent increase in research funding at the National Science Foundation - an increase of $439 million over last year's level - and an additional $104 million increase to the core laboratories of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Both increases are key parts of the ACI proposed by the President in his State of the Union address last January.

    "Chairman Wolf and his committee have created a historic opportunity to secure the Nation's leadership in research in information technology and other physical sciences," said Daniel A. Reed, Director of the Renaissance Computing Institute at the University of North Carolina and Chair of the Computing Research Association. "By acting to fulfill the promise of ACI, the subcommittee has made a down payment on America's future competitiveness."

    "We applaud this decisive action and are pleased that the legislation responds to our advice about making a serious statement about fostering innovation in America," said Eugene Spafford, Director of the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance at Purdue University and Chair of the Association for Computing Machinery's U.S. Public Policy Committee (USACM). "The computing research field is a crucial example of how federal investment in fundamental research drives economic growth. These increases would reverse a lengthy trend of flat or declining budgets in computing research that threaten to put future innovation at risk."

    "The computing research community thanks Chairman Wolf, Ranking Member Allan Mollohan (D-WV), and the other members of the subcommittee for their extraordinary leadership in support of federal investment in fundamental research," Reed said.

    About CRA
    The Computing Research Association is an association of more than 200 North American academic departments of computer science, computer engineering and related fields; laboratories and centers in industry, government and academia engaging in basic computing research; and affiliated professional societies. CRA's mission is to strengthen research and advanced education in the computing fields, expand opportunities for women and minorities, and improve public and policymaker understanding of the importance of computing and computing research in our society. web:

    About ACM
    ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is an educational and scientific society uniting the world's computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field's challenges. ACM strengthens the profession's collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.

    The ACM U.S. Public Policy Committee (USACM) serves as the focal point for ACM's interaction with U.S. government organizations, the computing community, and the U.S. public in all matters of U.S. public policy related to information technology. Supported by ACM's Washington, D.C., Office of Public Policy, USACM responds to requests for information and technical expertise from U.S. government agencies and departments, seeks to influence relevant U.S. government policies on behalf of the computing community and the public, and provides information to ACM on relevant U.S. government activities.

    # # #

    So, while this development is great news for those with an interest in seeing the federal investment in the physical sciences, mathematics, computer science and engineering increase, it's by no means a done deal. As I pointed out in the last post, there are a number of significant hurdles ahead. One potentially troublesome aspect is that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) did not fare well at all in the House SSJC appropriation. NOAA, which was already facing a cut in the President's requested budget for FY 2007 would receive even less than the President's request in this bill (actually, nearly $240 million less!). Given NOAA's role in hurricane warning and prediction, it's probably not a stretch to imagine a number of Gulf Coast representatives inclined to protect NOAA at the expense of a big increase to NSF or NIST, just as an example of what may ensue when this bill gets to the floor and the amendments start flying.

    The bill is expected to go to the full committee next week, which means it will likely hit the floor the following week. As we get closer, watch this space to learn what you can do to make sure the gains for science are preserved.

    June 14, 2006

    NSF and NIST Appropriations Numbers Released

    The first numbers from the House Science, State, Justice, Commerce appropriations subcommittee are out and it appears Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) made good on his promise to "take care of" the ACI-targeted agencies within "his" bill. From the committee's press release, just sent out:

    National Science Foundation receives $6 billion, the full amount requested as part of the American Competitive Initiative and an increase of $439 million above FY06. Includes $4.6 billion for research, $334.5 million above FY06; and $832.4 million for science education, $16.2 million above the request.

    $627 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, including $104 million to fully fund the American Competitiveness Initiative, and $92 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program.

    The challenge, of course, will be ensuring that these levels survive the floor debate, but we're way ahead of where we were at this time last year. More details as they come available....

    May 19, 2006

    Senate Commerce Committee Approves Key Innovation Authorization; Commits to a Hearing on Computing

    The Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approved a bill yesterday that would increase the authorization for two key science agencies, create a new program of "Innovation Acceleration Grants" at federal agencies, create a council to oversee basic research efforts at NASA, and direct the National Academies to study "forms of risk that create barriers to innovation."

    The committee approved the bill -- the "American Innovation and Competitiveness Act" (S. 2802), introduced by Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) -- by a vote of 21-0 after a compromise was reached on a controversial amendment introduced by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). The amendment originally proposed by Hutchison would have directed NSF to place priority on funding efforts in "the physical and natural sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics" that would help meet "critical national needs in innovation and competitiveness." The proposed amendment was seen as an attack on the social sciences by many in the science community and some of the members of the committee. Hutchison has not been a particular fan of social science research at NSF in recent years. Inside Higher Ed reports that in a hearing earlier this year, Hutchison called social science research a "burden" on NSF that is distracting from the goal of technological competitiveness.

    Hutchison reiterated her feeling that Congress should “focus on science and technology” because “we are responding to a crisis in our country.” Hutchison added that she is “not against social sciences being part of the NSF budget,” but that “I want to make sure we focus on the mission we are after.” Hutchison appeared to be using a broad definition of social science when she noted that biology, geology, economics, and archaeology are worthy pursuits, but can often stray from the innovation and competitiveness path.

    She again cited specific NSF funded social science studies that she thinks should not be funded by the foundation. “I object to the study of … the impact of global changes on 300 women workers in Bangladesh,” she said. “I want good social science research,” she adding, noting endeavors like the development of digital technology for teaching children.

    Amidst pressure from other members of the committee, including Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) who proposed language that would strip the Hutchison language, and members of the science community (who objected not only to the attack on a particular discipline, but to the idea of congressional micromanagement of NSF), Hutchison modified her amendment. Instead of prioritizing research in the physical and natural sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (a broad collection of disciplines which Hutchison intended to include computer science as well), the modified amendment directs NSF to "include consideration of the degree to which awards and research activities may assist in meeting critical national needs in innovation and competitiveness." The amendment also contains the limitation:
    Nothing in this section shall be construed to restrict or bias the grant selection process against funding other areas of research deemed by the Foundation to be consistent with its mandate, nor to change the core mission of the Foundation.

    Other provisions in the bill include language that would direct NSF to provide grants to community colleges to establish apprenticeship programs for women pursuing technical training, and to create a mentoring program for women in science, and technology, engineering and math (included in the bill as an amendment by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI)); and another to establish a "President's Council on Innovation and Competitiveness" to "develop a comprehensive agenda to promote innovation in the public and private sectors."

    One amendment proposed but not included in the bill would have inserted the text of H.R. 28, the "High Performance Computing Revitalization Act," that passed the House in April of last year. We've covered H.R. 28 previously in this space, and joined with USACM in endorsing the measure. However, Cantwell's amendment faced some resistance from Ensign for reasons that aren't completely clear, but appear to be technical in nature. Apparently a provision in H.R. 28 that would call on PITAC (which still existed as a separate committee at the time of the bill's passage in the House) to review the state of the federal IT R&D portfolio every two years was problematic -- perhaps because the committee has now been folded into PCAST. In any case, as a compromise, Ensign committed to holding a hearing in the "near future" on H.R. 28 -- which has languished in the Senate for more than a year without action -- and the importance of high-performance computing to innovation. In return, Cantwell withdrew her amendment.

    This is actually a positive development for the computing community, I think. H.R. 28, while a good bill, could use some tweaking -- including addressing the issue with PITAC -- and the discipline could surely use the additional exposure to be gained from a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on our issues. CRA will of course do what we can to help the committee prepare for the hearing and we'll have more details as they come available.

    In the meantime, here's some additional coverage of the markup yesterday:

  • Committee press release
  • Coverage from Inside Higher Ed

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 09:01 AM
    Posted to American Competitiveness Initiative | Funding | Policy
  • May 11, 2006

    First Appropriations Numbers for ACI

    The first appropriations numbers for elements of the President's American Competitiveness Initiative are starting to percolate out, and they're good. The House Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittee marked up their FY07 E&W Approps bill today, which contains funding for Department of Energy's Office of Science. The appropriators have included the full funding requested by the President for ACI at the Office of Science -- a 14 percent increase for the office over the FY 2006 level. The appropriators also included about $30 million within the office in "Congressionally directed funding," but that is over and above the ACI amount. So very good news there.

    Word is also that Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), who chairs the Science, State, Justice, Commerce appropriations subcommittee (which includes ACI agencies NSF and NIST), has said that he's "taken care of ACI" in his bill as well. The SSJC bill won't be marked up until June, but full funding of ACI would mean a 7.8 percent increase to NSF and a 24 percent increase to NIST's core research programs -- though the NIST number is a little trickier because of likely earmarking.

    Wolf anticipates there will be some effort once the bill reaches the House floor to divert some of the ACI funding to other areas of the bill that received cuts (as happens every year with science funding) and so he's looking to the science community to help with the fight. CRA will participate in that effort -- we'll have details soon how you can help, too.

    No word yet on the Senate number -- though for NSF, it's not expected to be quite as good. The Senate appropriators are apparently more inclined to "take care" of NASA and NOAA in their bill, as those agencies didn't fare quite as well in the President's budget.

    Of course, the fact that the House seems much more on board with actually providing funding for ACI is ironic given how non-committal (or downright hostile) the leadership seemed to be over the initiative in recent months. But that's Washington....

    Anyway, I'll have more updates as the numbers become a little clearer. In the meantime, here's a bit of the press release issued by the Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittee today.

    The bill provides $24.373 billion for the Department of Energy, $327 million above the FY2006 level and $299 million above the request.
  • The bill fully funds the American Competitiveness Initiative which would strengthen basic research by increasing funding for the DOE Office of Science, for a total of $4.132 billion.  In addition, the bill supports the Advanced Energy Initiative by increasing funding for a variety of clean energy technologies, including biomass, hydrogen, solar, wind, and clean coal.
  • The bill provides $150 million for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), the administration’s initiative on recycling spent nuclear fuel, $96 million below the request but at the level authorized in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
  • Energy Supply and Conservation programs are funded at $2.0 billion, $102 million above FY06. The bill restores reductions in other essential energy programs, such as support for university nuclear energy education (funded at $27 million) and weatherization assistance (restoring $78 million cut for a total of $242.5 million).
  • Fossil Energy research and development programs are funded at $558 million, an increase of $88.5 over the request, to include $54 million for FutureGen, and $36.4 million for the Clean Coal Power Initiative.
  • The Bill funds the Yucca Mountain repository at $544.5 million.  This includes $156.4 million for Nuclear Waste Disposal and $388 million for Defense Nuclear Waste Disposal.  In addition, the Committee provides another $30 million for interim storage of spent fuel, subject to authorization.
  • The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which includes the nuclear weapons program, defense nuclear nonproliferation, naval reactors and the Office of the Administrator, is funded at $9.2 billion, an increase of $95 million over last year and $116 million below the President’s request.  Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation activities are funded at $1.6 billion, $22 million below FY06 and $133 million below the request.  The bill provides $105 million for container screening at foreign ports, $65 million above the request.  Weapons activities are funded at $6.4 billion, $42 million above FY06 and $4 million above the request.  Within the Weapons Activities account, the bill targets $140 million for weapons complex reform and consolidation activities.
  • Defense Environmental Cleanup programs are funded at $5.55 billion, an increase of $161.5 million over the request.  The Chairman’s mark provides $600 million for the Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant.   Non-defense Environmental Cleanup activities are funded at $309.9 million, a decrease of $0.4 million below the request. 
  • The Power Marketing Administrations are funded at $252 million, $18 million below last year and the same as the request. 
  • The Denali Commission total funding is $7.5 million.  Appalachian Regional Commission is reduced by $30 million, total funding is $35.5 million    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is funded at $808.4 million, an increase of $40 million to provide for the anticipated growth in reactor license applications.
  • The bill terminates the following programs:
    • State energy program grants:  $49.5 million
    • Geothermal R&D technology:  $23 million
    • Natural gas R&D technologies:  $20 million
    • Construction of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Plant and the Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility at the Savannah Site:  $368 million
  • The bill reduces total earmarks by $200 million, or 16 percent, compared to last year’s House bill.
  • May 10, 2006

    Sen. Sununu on Competitiveness and R&D

    Sen. John Sununu (R-NH), known as one of the biggest budget hawks on the Hill (in fact, he's the highest ranked "taxpayers' friend" in the Senate, according to the National Taxpayers Union) has his take on the current push for competitiveness legislation in today's Washington Times. While it's not surprising that he sees lots of "waste" when he looks at the competitiveness bills currently floating around the Senate, it's encouraging that the essence of his Op-Ed is that the federal government's real role in advancing competitiveness is in supporting fundamental research. Here's a liberally-quoted bit from the piece (no pun intended):

    As this debate moves forward, any legislation designed to promote American competitiveness and innovation should adhere to the following rules to ensure that American taxpayer dollars are not wasted or misused:

  • Focus on the basics. Federal funding for research and development should be applied toward basic science and technology, (such as chemistry, physics, material science and computational mathematics) rather than applied research, technology transfer or commercialization efforts. The private sector — not the federal government — has the obligation to advance the findings of basic research into marketable products and technologies. Equally troubling, legislators await the movement of a competitiveness bill in hopes they may attach pet research projects or fund a favored industry. Politicizing the process only undermines the integrity of peer review and dilutes the effectiveness of these resources.
  • Don't over-promise. To date, Senate competitiveness bills are littered with increased authorization levels for various purposes. Billions of dollars would be needed to actually fund programs at such inflated levels. Given this scenario, reasonable authorization levels must be utilized to ensure that funding can actually be secured through the appropriations process. It would not be beneficial to repeat an example from 2002, when Congress reauthorized the NSF with the goal of doubling its annual funding. Ultimately, NSF appropriations never approached such levels.
  • Limit new programs. Like so many other sound-bite driven "debates" in Congress, competitiveness proposals often boil down to the usual simplistic solution: Create more government programs. How many times do we have to go down this same costly road? And when was the last time we dealt effectively with a complex problem by creating new federal programs? One Senate bill would create more than 20 new programs without eliminating a single one. Dozens already exist, including the Advanced Technology Program, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and other questionable expenditures of funds. Congress should not create new programs without a thorough review of the value and efficacy of existing programs. Otherwise, we are merely diverting funding to new programs and layers of bureaucracy when such money could be used on basic research.
  • Make hard decisions. Once realistic authorization levels are established, Congress needs to make the necessary adjustments to ensure funding increases actually occur. Spending billions on a competitiveness agenda through deficit spending restricts future economic growth, and stunts future innovation and competitiveness. If we are to increase funding for a competitiveness agenda, legislation needs to include necessary rescissions and program repeals to remain budget neutral.
  • Don't play favorites. Given the popularity of a competitiveness initiative, it is disappointing that agencies integrally involved in basic research are being ignored. For instance, NASA's basic science mission, referred to by many as its crown jewel, results in significant scientific findings. Ironically, the administration recently proposed that planned spending for these accounts be cut by more than $3 billion over the next few years, a decision NASA Administrator Michael Griffin admitted was made solely for budgetary reasons. How is this internally consistent for the administration?

    If done for the right reasons, a successful plan to invest new resources in scientific research can have a positive impact. Without discipline and focus, however, Congress is doomed to repeat the same mistakes, fund more failed programs and expand federal bureaucracy.

    America's technology-driven economy grows despite, not because of, government intervention. That is a lesson we all need to learn before trying to "fix" what ails us.

  • While we could quibble with a lot of that -- the difference between "basic" and "applied" research is often not so cut and dried as he implies, authorizing NSF's doubling sent an important signal, etc -- it's hard to imagine getting a more favorable endorsement from a fiscal conservative of the portions of the ACI we care most about. It's certainly a more thoughtful response to the President's plan than a recent conservative think tank take, which ignored the R&D portion of the ACI completely....

    Anyway, even if you disagree with the perspective, Sununu's OpEd is worth reading.

    March 02, 2006

    House Republicans Ignore R&D in Innovation and Competitiveness Bill

    Demonstrating how much work remains to be done with the House Republican leadership, the House Republican "High-tech Task Force" led by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) today introduced its "Innovation and Competitiveness Act," which wholly ignores the central recommendation of the President's American Competitiveness Initiative, two bi-partisan bills in the Senate, the National Academies "Gathering Storm" report, and just about every high-tech industry association (pdf), by not including any commitment to increase funding for fundamental research in the physical sciences.

    Instead, Goodlatte's bill

    is a comprehensive piece of legislation to get Congress engaged in the business of promoting innovation in America by creating additional incentives for private individuals and businesses to create and rollout new products and services so that America will remain the world leader in innovation," said Goodlatte. "This legislation also recognizes that government sometimes is the problem - not the answer to the problem - so it also addresses government-imposed hurdles to innovation."
    Here's what's included:
    • Business activity tax simplification;
    • Attorney accountability changes;
    • An Innovation Scholarship Program;
    • "Promotion of R&D" by making permanent the research credit; increase in rates of alternative incremental credit; alternative simplified credit for qualified research expenses'
    • Health care choice provisions;
    • and, Health IT promotion.


    The bill was actually previewed yesterday at a press conference of the High Tech Working Group attended by a whole slew of Republican House members and the entire Republican House leadership, including Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and new majority leader John Boehner (R-OH). Among the attendees, the only one who mentioned anything about the need to increase research funding in the physical sciences was Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY). Boehlert emphasized that this innovation package wouldn't be the only one moving through the House this summer and that he would make sure research funding was addressed in the innovation/competitiveness bills before his committee and in the deliberations of the appropriators this year.

    Still, this has very bad "optics," as they say. The House leadership is clearly behind an innovation plan that bears little resemblance to the one introduced by the President and endorsed by Republicans in the Senate. The House Republican leadership has now had two opportunities to be supportive of bipartisan innovation efforts molded on the recommendations of the NAS and others, and has chosen not to be supportive both times. The first was Majority Leader Boehner's biting response to a Democratic innovation event held last month, which we covered here.

    It will be interesting to see how members of the high-tech industry associations, for whom this Goodlatte plan is ostensibly for, react to this approach. They were, after all, very much supportive of the President's ACI, the Senate bills, and the Democratic Innovation Agenda (which are all very similar). They've gone above and beyond the call of duty in making increased support for research a priority in their own advocacy efforts. But they're needed again. It's time for those companies who believe in this cause to pick up the phone and tell the Republican leadership what's missing from their plan.

    February 21, 2006

    ACI: Details of the NSF, DARPA and DOE Office of Science FY07 Requests

    As promised, we've got some further detail on the individual agency budget requests for FY 2007 and what those requests might mean for computing research.

    But before diving into that, I thought I'd point out that the FY 2007 NITRD Budget Supplement produced by the NITRD National Coordinating Office is now available in a pre-print version (pdf). We'll have more details on that when we get a chance to tear through it a bit. I'll just note for now that it indicates NITRD will increase 7.7 percent in FY 07 (versus the 2.0 percent indicated in the President's budget and the 9.4 percent indicated in the OSTP documentation...see the whole sordid story here). But, the supplement is the most comprehensive look at the actual contributions of the participating agencies, so we'll consider that the "number of record."

    Anyway, the descriptions below come from my forthcoming Computing Research News article on the budget submission. Previous issues are available online.

    National Science Foundation
    NSF would continue to be the lead agency in the NITRD program in the President's plan, making the largest contribution at $904 million in FY 2007. NSF's Computer and Information Science and Engineering directorate (CISE) would continue to be home of the largest share of that investment with a budget of request of $527 million, an increase of 6.1 percent over CISE's FY 2006 current plan. The CISE investment is spread relatively equally between its Computing and Communication Foundations activity ($123 million in the request, an increase of 16.5 percent over FY 2006), Computer and Network Systems ($163 million, an increase of 15.2 percent), and Information and Intelligent Systems ($119 million, an increase of 15.1 percent). The double-digit increases to these programs are made possible by both the 6.1 percent overall increase for the directorate and funding freed up as grants under the old Information Technology Research (ITR) program - which officially ended in FY 2004 - continue to expire. ITR expenditures in FY 2007 would decline by 17 percent to $122 million under the current plan.

    Also included in the CISE budget request in FY 2007 is $10 million for the agency's new Global Environment for Networking Innovations program (detailed by Peter Freeman, NSF Assistant Director for CISE, elsewhere in this issue). The GENI proposal - a plan for a $300 million computer science facility and $40 million research program -- faces an internal NSF design review on February 22, 2006. The results of that review will determine whether the project stays on track for presentation to the National Science Board in the coming year, with the aim of securing approval for consideration for inclusion in FY 2009 budget request.

    The overall NSF contribution to Cybersecurity and Information Assurance would also grow significantly under the President plan. The budget request boost NSF's Cyber Trust program $10 million to $35 million in FY 2007, bringing NSF's total contribution to information assurance research to $97 million (an increase of 26 percent).

    Proposed investments in NSF's Office of Cyber Infrastructure (to be headed by University of Michigan professor and computer scientist Daniel Atkins) account for $182 million of NSF's NITRD share in FY 2007, an increase of $55 million, or 44 percent, over FY 2006. The great bulk of that increase -- $50 million - would begin the acquisition of a new “petascale” computing system.

    The remainder of NSF's investments in NITRD programs would come from the other research directorates, which on average received about the same level of overall increase as did CISE (about 6 percent vs. FY 2006). One notable exception is the Engineering directorate, which would grow 8.0 percent in the President's request, largely due to the establishment of a new $20 million Improvised Explosive Device Detection research program. Freeman said that program should provide opportunities for computer science researchers, especially those in artificial intelligence and sensors, to compete for funding.

    Department of Energy, Office of Science
    The Department of Energy's contribution to the NITRD effort would grow to $387 million in FY 2007 in the President's plan, an increase of nearly 33 percent over FY 2006. The focus of much of the DOE SC investment will be on “leadership-class” computing efforts. The President's budget calls for $103 million in DOE SC towards the goal of deploying petascale computing systems by the year 2010. The Advanced Scientific Computing Research Program would be funded at $319 million in FY 2007, an increase of $84 million, or 36 percent, over FY 2006.

    Computing research at DARPA would grow significantly under the President's plan, gaining back ground lost in the FY 2006 Defense Appropriations process when $55 million was cut from the agency's Cognitive Computing program. DARPA's two main computing research efforts, the Information and Communications Technology account and the Cognitive Computing Systems account are both slated for substantial gains in the President's budget. ICT would grow $47 million to $243 million in FY 2007, an increase of 24 percent. Cognitive Computing Systems would grow $57 million to $220 million in FY 2007, an increase of 35 percent.

    Overall, DARPA would see its budget increase by $400 million to $3.3 billion in FY 2007, a 14 percent increase. Basic research would grow to $151 million, which is more than the FY 2006 level of $133 million, but still under the $165 million spent in FY 2005. DARPA applied research would increase to $1.5 billion (vs. $1.4 billion in FY 2006), and advanced technology development would grow to $1.6 billion (vs. $1.4 billion in FY 2006).

    February 06, 2006

    President's Budget: NITRD Numbers for FY07

    The President's budget request for FY 2007 has just been released and we'll be dissecting it and providing our analysis as we get through it. But I wanted to post a quick snapshot of the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program, the federal government's multi-agency IT research and development effort, because 1) it's the number of greatest concern to the computing research community and 2) it highlights the near-fruitlessness of trying to track the federal investment in IT R&D on a year-to-year basis.

    For FY 07, the President is requesting $3.09 billion in aggregate funding for NITRD, an increase of $930 million over the FY 06 budget request -- a huge increase. However, in that peculiar DC way, that's only a 2 percent increase over FY 06 actual. That's because the baseline budget has changed significantly since the Administration last calculated its IT R&D expenditures. The Department of Defense apparently discovered it was funding a lot more IT R&D than it previously thought -- $851 million more in FY06 than it spent in FY05 an increase of more than 400 percent.

    How can this happen? Well, each agency is responsible for determining what its own contribution to the NITRD program actually is. If the criteria that agency uses to determine whether a particular expense is IT R&D related or not changes, the department's contribution can change dramatically. Does it mean that there actually will be $851 million more available to researchers in FY06 than there was in FY05? Not likely, but I'd sure like to get my hands on the spreadsheet used to produce that number. Perhaps we'll get a better look when the NITRD coordinating office releases its annual "blue book" report for FY07.

    Anyway, the good news is the NITRD program is slated for continued growth in FY07 (despite the widely fluctuating baseline numbers). Overall, the program will increase 2 percent, higher than any of the other government-wide "crosscutting" research programs (Nanotechnology will actually see a 2 percent decline, though that's subject to some of the same odd DOD accounting changes; and the Climate Change program is flat). NSF would see a 12 percent increase in its NITRD funding, and DOE would see an increase of 23 percent.

    Update: (2/7/06 9:45pm) - I really should just trash this entry and start over, but it seems somehow more appropriate to leave the big strikethrough section for posterity.

    After consulting with Simon Szykman, who heads the National Coordinating Office for NITRD, I've got a little better information on what is actually going on with the widely fluctuating budget numbers in the NITRD cross-cut. I can't say I completely understand all the reasons, but I at least have some sense of what's going on. Apologies to Simon if I screw this explanation up. This is likely uninteresting to all but the most hard-core federal funding geeks, but to me, it's a great lesson in how tricky it is to rely on aggregate funding totals for any insight into federal policy.

    In the early '90s the decision was made -- for reasons I don't yet know -- to exclude a number of programs in DOD from being counted as part of what would become the NITRD "cross-cut." In particular, IT R&D investments at the DOD service labs -- Air Force Research Lab, Army Research Lab, Naval Research Lab -- weren't included in the "Defense" line and weren't calculated as part of the overall NITRD program.

    For the FY 07 budget, the White House Office of Management and Budget (the gatekeepers for the budget process in the executive branch) reviewed the program accounting and decided that the legacy way of reporting the NITRD cross-cut was no longer accurate. To describe the full breadth of the federal government's NITRD investments, R&D spending in the DOD service labs had to be included. So OMB produced this chart -- which ran in the original version of this post -- and included it in the Analytical Perspectives (pdf) supplement to the FY 2007 Budget Request. (Though I added the first column, "FY 05 (est)," just for comparison's sake.)

    Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program
    dollars in millions
    OMB version
    $ change
    % change
    1Estimated expenditures in the FY 06 Budget Request.

    Obviously, we'll have much more as we get a little more time to dive into the budget. Stay tuned...

    Now, as we've figured out, this spread of numbers isn't very useful for year-to-year comparisons. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy realized this, too, so they now keep a second set of numbers which uses -- roughly -- the same set of agencies and programs that had been the norm until FY 07. Here's the OSTP version:

    Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program
    dollars in millions
    OSTP Version
    FY 06
    $ change
    % change

    You'll note that when the military services are pulled from the numbers, DOD actually appears to receive an increase in the request versus FY06, which seems to indicate that the service labs don't fare particularly well in the President's budget. Szykman indicated that the DOD numbers for FY06 and FY07 in this chart also include, for the first time, funding from the DOD High Performance Computing Modernization Office. This isn't new money.

    Finally, you'll note that some of the non-DOD numbers have changed in the second chart. According to Szykman, that's likely due to further refinement as the chart worked its way through OMB to final release. Apparently the OSTP version is the "newer" version, and therefore its numbers are likely to be more accurate.

    Presumably, we'll have the final word when the NITRD NCO releases its FY07 Budget Supplement (the "Blue book," which is now -- of course -- red) sometime in the next few weeks.

    So what's the take-away from all of this? I don't really know, honestly. OSTP indicates that NITRD is up 9.4 percent in the President's request over last year, but that includes additional funding in the calculation for FY07 that isn't really new money. The OMB numbers indicate it's more like 2.0 percent, but those numbers include a whole bunch of funding that's apparently never been considered before.

    Update: (2/8/06 8:39 am) - Ok, final update to this post. After some additional clarification from Szykman, it does appear that the OSTP-indicated increase of 9.4 percent is an accurate estimate of the status of the NITRD "legacy" programs OSTP is tracking. We'll have further details in future posts about what exactly that 9.4 percent increase includes. But for now, maybe what's most important for computing researchers is the knowledge that the traditional three big supporters for fundamental computing research -- NSF, DOE and DOD/DARPA -- all would see increases in the coming year under the President's plan.

    From OSTP:

    High-end computing (HEC) continues to be a major focus of NITRD. DoE's Office os Science (DoE SC), NSF and NASA are all engaged in developing and/or operating leadership class computing systems as recommended in the 2004 Federal Plan for High-End Computing, with the goal of deploying petascale computing systems by the year 2010. The DoE SC 2007 investment of $103M in leadership class computing, coupled with NSF's investment of $50M in their Office of Cyber Infrastructure, will ensure that U.S. scientists and researchers have access to the most powerful computational resources in the world. Similarly, NASA continues to emphasize high-end computing within its NITRD portfolio through the operation of the Project Columbia supercomputer. All three agencies have pledged to make a portion of their leadership class computing systems available to other Federal users and the larger research community.

    A 9% increase in support for advanced networking research in 2007, primarily by NSF, DARPA and DoE SC, will ensure that large-scale networking technologies will keep pace with the rapid development of petascale computing systems, so that the results of petascale computations are immediately accessible for analysis.

    The 2007 Budget also includes significant increases in long-term fundamental research in cyber security and information assurance, as recommended by the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee. Budget increases in cyber security and information assurance for NSF (+28%), DHS (+43%) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (+11%) will support substantial new research activities to help secure the Nation's information infrastructure, including fundamental research, and support for large-scale cyber security test beds and data sets.

    We'll have more on some of the agency-by-agency specifics as we get a chance to pour through the budget documents a little closer. As this episode points out, even a close reading of the documents isn't always enough. And to think, if it's this difficult to figure out the dollar amounts involved in this cross-agency program, imagine how difficult it is to coordinate research priorities and research activities....

    Stay tuned.

    February 02, 2006

    American Competitiveness Initiative: First Numbers Posted

    We have so much to catch up on in the wake of the President's State of the Union speech and his introduction of an American Competitiveness Initiative that I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. So let me start to wade through the torrent of new material.

    First, the White House has posted the supporting documentation for ACI online. I'm still working my way through the document, but figured I should get the word out as soon as I could.

    One interesting aspect of the document is that includes the FY07 budget numbers for NSF, NIST and DOE Office of Science, so we don't need to wait until Monday to see how each of the agencies fared. In it we learn that NSF will see a 7.8 percent bump to $6.02 billion, an increase of $440 million over FY 06.

    DOE Office of Science actually does a little better, growing 14 percent to $4.10 billion in FY 07, an increase of $500 million.

    NIST "Core" (Labs + Construction...not ATP or MEP) will decline $30 million from FY 06, but in twisted Washington DC logic, that's actually an increase of 24 percent. The White House claims to have stripped $137 million in earmarks to the NIST budget from FY 06, so it's actually an increase of $100 million in NIST core R&D.

    Here's a handy chart showing not only the proposed increases for next year, but the 10 year commitment the President is proposing (chart stolen from the President's proposal).

    I'd also like to include a lengthy quote from the President's speech today at 3M in Minneapolis -- the first of his "post-SOTU road show" speeches focused on competitiveness -- that I found particularly, well, amazing. It would have been hard impossible to have imagined these words coming from the President even two months ago. (And apologies to History majors for the slight in the speech...hope it doesn't apply to English majors, too):

    I want to talk about another important issue, and I've come to 3M to highlight this issue. And the truth of the matter is, in order to stay competitive, we have got to lead the world in research and development, and got to lead the world in having people -- scientists and engineers that are capable of helping America stay on the cutting edge of technology. And 3M is a perfect place to come. (Applause.)

    There's an economic reason why we need to do this. The economic reason why we got to stay on the leading edge of technology is to make sure that people's standard of living here in America goes up -- that's what it is. And there's a direct correlation by being the most innovative country in the world and how our citizens live.

    Secondly, the second practical application to make sure we've got young scientists and engineers coming up, is that if we don't have people that have got the skill set to fill the jobs of the 21st century, because we're in a global world and a competitive world, they're going to go somewhere else. And so I want to talk about an initiative to make sure America remains competitive.

    The first element is, is that for the federal government to continue its role -- oh, by the way, when we went on the tour, so I asked, how you doing? Fine. What do you do? This. Where did you get your education? We met engineers and chemists and physicists. I didn't meet any history majors. (Laughter.) I met people who are incredibly capable, smart thinkers that are able to take their brainpower and come up with ways to make practical products that changes Americans' lives. And so -- and the federal government has a role in this, and our taxpayers have got to understand a good use of your taxpayers' money is to promote research and development -- research into the physical sciences.

    Again, I'd repeat to you that if we can remain the most competitive nation in the world, it will benefit the worker here in America. People have got to understand, when we talk about spending your taxpayers' money on research and development, there is a correlating benefit, particularly to your children. See, it takes a while for some of the investments that are being made with government dollars to come to market. I don't know if people realize this, but the Internet began as the Defense Department project to improve military communications. In other words, we were trying to figure out how to better communicate, here was research money spent, and as a result of this sound investment, the Internet came to be.

    The Internet has changed us. It's changed the whole world. It's an amazing example of what a commitment to research dollars can mean. The iPod -- I'm a bike guy and I like to plug in music on my iPod when I'm riding along to hopefully help me forget how old I am. (Laughter.) But it was built -- when it was launched, it was built on years of government-funded research and microdrive storage, or electrochemistry, or single compression -- signal compression. See, the nanotechnology research that the government is helping sponsor is going to change the way people live.

    And so what I said to the Congress was, let's be wise with taxpayers' money. Let's stay on the leading edge of technology and change, and let's reaffirm our commitment to scientific innovation. I think we ought to double the federal commitment to the most basic critical research programs in physical sciences over the next decade.

    This year alone we're proposing $6 billion go to the National Science Foundation to fund research in physics and chemistry and material science and nanotechnology. We're proposing $4 billion goes to the Energy Department's Office of Science to build the world's most powerful civilian supercomputer. We're proposing $535 million to the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology to research electronics information technologies and advanced computers.

    I wouldn't be proposing this if I didn't believe that there will be tangible benefits for the American people. We may not see them tomorrow, but your children will see them. We're staying on the leading edge of technology for a reason. If America doesn't lead, if we try to kind of forget that we're in a competitive world, generations of Americans won't be able to realize the standard of living that we've been able to realize.

    So that's just the first speech on the topic. He plans to deliver a few more. Also, I wouldn't get too hung up on the examples of research he mentions for the agencies -- it's not a comprehensive list. I'm far more interested in the overall message of the speech.

    Anyway, we sort of need to enjoy this moment while we can. As one congressional staffer put it this morning, "Today is the best it's going to get." There are some tactical issues that will make realizing the full extent of the President's plan problematic. Come Monday and the actual release of the President's budget, some constituencies will feel slighted and there will be some hurdles to clear in Congress. But that's a post for tomorrow or Monday.

    Today I'm still reveling in what has to be considered one of the bigger wins for the science community, and more importantly, for the nation, in quite some years.

    Update: (5:02 pm 2/2/06) -- The House Democratic response is great -- very positive:

    February 02, 2006

    Pelosi Statement on President’s Competitiveness Speech

    Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement this afternoon in response to President Bush’s speech on American competitiveness in Minnesota today:

    “In September, House Democrats launched the Innovation Agenda: A Commitment to Competitiveness to Keep America Number One.  With this Innovation Agenda, House Democrats laid down a challenge to the President and to Congress to renew our commitment to the public-private partnerships that will secure America's continued leadership in innovation and unleash the next generation of discovery, invention, and growth.

    “I am glad that the President addressed this vital issue in his State of the Union Address, and in Minnesota today.  House Democrats are ready to work with the President to move our country forward and keep America competitive – nothing could be more important.

    “We must now go beyond words and speeches and make the commitment in next year’s budget to a sustained investment in technological innovation and educational excellence to ensure that our country remains competitive against formidable international competition and generates high quality jobs throughout the 21st century.  Nothing less is at stake than America’s economic leadership.”

    January 30, 2006

    It's about Competitiveness, Stupid...: Competitiveness, Innovation and the State of the Union

    Ok, so that's about the most played-out cliche in politics, but it's hard to come up with another phrase that encapsulates how pervasive the competitiveness meme has become in science policy circles -- and more encouragingly, in the words of administration and congressional policymakers -- over the last year.

    Also, apologies for going sort of radio silent here the last couple of weeks, but there's lots going on surrounding this issue and we're involved in some of it, which makes chatting about it a little dicey. But here's where things stand.

    At the moment, all eyes (ears?) are focused on the President's State of the Union speech tomorrow night. In that speech, among the new programs and initiatives he's expected to announce may be a piece on ensuring U.S. competitiveness, which could feature a number of important planks. Now, I have no specific knowledge about what is actually in the speech, but there's been a bit of press coverage, plenty of rumors floating around town, and a few tea leaves that can be read.

    It seems fairly clear that there will be a focus on education, a focus on workforce/immigration, and a focus on "innovation" that could include increased budgets for federal science angencies. One big clue is the Administration's apparent fondness for the National Academies "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" report put together by former Lockheed-Martin CEO Norman Augustine. There have been several mentions of the report by folks within the Administration. Maybe the most prominent mention was by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card during his January 11th talk at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This exchange is about 47:28 into the webcast:

    Question: There's a recent report from the National Academy of Sciences, put together by Norm Augustine, called "The Gathering Storm." It raises some questions about science and technology leadership in the U.S. going forward. Do you have any thoughts on that, especially as it relates to the economy, one of your key issues?

    Card: I would encourage you to read this report, which is The Gathering Storm. It's about our need to have more engineers and scientists in the United States. It is work that was done in the private sector under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, and Norm Augustine did lead the effort. There were some great academics involved.

    I actually read the report, not just the summary, but the report. And it is dramatic in its exposure to that which is a problem in the United States, and how few young people are going into the physical sciences, into math, and how they're not going to college with an expectation that they'll be a an engineer, or a mathematician, or a physicist.

    The life sciences have actually had a little bump up. There's some excitement about the life sciences, but on the physical sciences side, there is a dearth of students, and there is a death of teachers, and a dearth of scholarships and opportunities at some our major institutions. This report highlights that. It outlines a road map toward solving the problem. It's a ten year roadmap.

    We are taking a very close look at it in the Administration. We are very forward leaning in believing it is the right issue to address. Many of the suggestions are appropriate suggestions, but we have to put them in the context of Josh Bolton's budget. And we'll be doing that.

    It is a compelling report.

    We've covered the Gathering Storm report in this space, and it's filled with things we like. If the Administration embraces the report in any meaningful way -- particularly its core recommendation to "sustain and strengthen the nation's traditional commitment to the long-term basic research that has the potential to be transformational to maintain the flow of new ideas that fuel the economy, provide security, and enhance the quality of life" -- then we'll be very pleased. After all, this represents a pretty signficant (and welcome) sea change for the Administration, which until recently has maintained, as John Marburger, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said back in March, that "the U.S. is so far ahead in [science and technology] that we are going to be able to maintain our competitive strength. I don't see the same danger signs [that others do]."

    There are other hints that the President may be willing to adopt an "innovation" agenda, including a number of tidbits in the press. Technology Daily reports today (sub. req'd.) that some high-tech officials who have met with White House senior officials in recent days have come away optimistic about the Administrations commitment to innovation. Yesterday's Boston Globe indicates Norm Augustine will play an important role in the President's speech. And the Baltimore Sun has two pieces on the likelihood of "innovation" being a featured part of Bush's remarks. The big question is whether there will be the funding commitment to accompany any rhetorical commitment to innovation by the President.

    If the President chooses to truly embrace the recommendations of the Augustine report, his budget will find a way to provide for a significant increase for the National Science Foundation, and perhaps to the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Department of Energy's Office of Science. The Augustine report specifically recommends an increase of 10 percent a year for the next seven years for "long-term basic research...with special attention paid to the physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, and information sciences." This is the approach taken in both the National Innovation Act introduced by Sens. John Ensign (R-NV) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and the new "Protecting America's Competitive Edge" (PACE) Act, introduced last week by Sens. Pete Domenici (R-NM), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).

    The strong bipartisan support accorded both bills in the Senate is indicative of the traction the "competiveness and innovation" case has in Congress. A year's worth of reports -- most familiar to readers of this blog -- by some of the most influential academic and industrial entities, all making the same essential points that the world has become an increasingly competitive place and that the US isn't currently doing enough to ensure our future scientific and innovative leadership, has clearly had an impact on Members of Congress -- and now, hopefully, the Administration.

    But even if the President does include signficant increases for basic research in his budget, there will be a lot of work remaining. As Congress is fond of pointing out, "the President proposes, Congress disposes." This is, after all, a time of incredibly tight budgets, with lots of pressure in place to hold down increases in discretionary spending. So, step one will be making sure that the Congressional Budget Resolution includes the same support for fundamental research that we hope will be present in the President's budget. This is turn will aid in getting "302(b) allocations" (essentially, the amounts each of the 10 or 12 (House v Senate) appropriations subcommittees are allowed to spend for the bills under their control) that are robust enough to let the subcommittees that oversee the science agencies provide the any increases called for in the budget. Then it will be up to this same coalition of partners in university and industry to make the case to appropriators. In past years, the lack of a budget "cap" room has prevented even some of the most ardent congressional champions of research from providing significant increases. A strong budget request and good 302(b) allocations would remove that constraint.

    So, I'm cautiously optimistic and very eager to hear the President's words tomorrow night. If the Adminstration comes through with a proposal that embraces the best of the Augustine report recommendations, it is hugely important that they, and Congress, hear from the community in support of the idea. As we've noted in the past, the case for bolstering U.S. competitiveness by bolstering U.S. innovation finds strong support in both parties. Supporting the plan need not commit you to supporting any one party.

    But let's see what's in the plan, first.

    The President will deliver the State of the Union at 9 pm, Tuesday, January 31st.

    We'll have more after the speech (or earlier, if we get some scoop...).

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 05:27 PM
    Posted to Funding | Policy | R&D in the Press

    December 21, 2005

    Congress Will Create Grant Program to Boost Math and Science Education

    Having colleagues who blog saves me a lot of work. Cameron Wilson, Director of the U.S. Public Policy Committee of ACM, has a great write-up on the USACM Tech Policy blog of a new, $4.5 billion math and science education program included in the budget reconciliation that may finally pass this week. The grants would provide up to $4,000 a year to low-income students to pursue majors in the physical, life, or computer science, mathematics, technology or engineering.

    Cameron's got all the details, including his thoughts on how this provision is good evidence that Congress thinks that increasing science talent is directly connected to U.S. competitiveness.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 12:36 PM
    Posted to Funding

    December 05, 2005

    Lots of News Re: The Case for R&D and U.S. Competitiveness

    I'm just back from CRA's Grand Research Challenges in Revitalizing Computer Architecture conference -- held in lovely Aptos, California, just up the road from Monterey (and far sunnier than the snowy DC I've returned to) -- where 50 of the brightest minds in computer architecture research spent 3 days thinking deep thoughts about the field and its biggest challenges for the future. The participants are in the process of finalizing their conclusions, and when they do, you'll see them here first.

    But I only bring this up as a way of explaining the lack of updates during a week that was chock full of good and important developments surrounding the science community's efforts to make the case for federal support of R&D in the physical sciences, mathematics and computing. So this post is an attempt to rectify that in one fell swoop.

    It began on Tuesday:

    National Summit on Competitiveness: Long-time readers may recall that
    back in April
    , as part of the emergency supplemental appropriation to pay for Iraq and Afghanistan, House Science, Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) (with help from Reps. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and Vern Ehlers (R-MI)) included language directing the Department of Commerce to convene a meeting of U.S. manufacturers to discuss what could be done to buttress U.S. competitiveness in the global economy. Wolf, who has become one of the strongest champions in Congress for federal support of fundamental research, felt the conference was necessary to expose the Administration to industry concerns about the impact of the federal government's long-term underinvestment in the physical sciences.

    The summit was held Tuesday (December 6, 2005) and attracted over 50 CEOs (pdf), university presidents, and agency directors, as well as four members of the President's cabinet -- Sec. Samuel Bodman (Energy), Sec. Margaret Spellings (Education), Sec. Carlos Gutierrez (Commerce) and Sec. Elaine Chao (Labor).

    The good news is that the CEOs made "support for fundamental research" the primary message they brought to the cabinet officials -- a very important change of emphasis for most CEO advocacy efforts, which tend to focus on tax law changes or regulatory relief as their prime agenda items. The "Statement of the National Summit of Competitiveness" (pdf), released by the conferees immediately following the summit, puts the message bluntly:

    The National Summit on Competitiveness has one fundamental and urgent message: if trends in U.S. research and education continue, our nation will squander its economic leadership, and the result will be a lower standard of living for the American people.
    The participants focused on six specific recommendations:
    • Increase the federal investment in long-term basic research by 10 percent a year over the next seven years, with focused attention to the physical sciences, engineering and mathematics.
    • Allocate at least 8 percent of the budgets of federal research agencies to discretionary funding focused on catalyzing high-risk, high-payoff research.
    • By 2015, double the number of bachelor's degrees awarded annually to U.S. students in science, math, and engineering, and increase the number of those students who become K-12 science and math teachers.
    • Reform U.S. immigration policies to enable the education and employment of individuals from around the world with the knowledge and skills in science, engineering, technology and mathematics necessary to boost the competitive advantage of the U.S.
    • Provide incentives for the creation of public-private partnerships to encourage U.S. students at all levels to pursue studies and/or careers in science, math, technology and engineering.
    • Provide focused and sustained funding to address national technology challenges in areas that will ensure national security and continued U.S. economic leadership, including nanotechnology, high-performance computing, and energy technologies.
    These are recommendations well-grounded in recent reports of the National Academies, the Council on Competitiveness, the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation, the Business Round Table, and many others (pdf). Whether the recommendations will resonate within the Administration remains to be seen. Until recently, the Administration has adopted a rather head-in-the-sand approach regarding the state of federal support for fundamental research. Members of the Administration continue to note that federal support for R&D has risen 45 percent since 2001, while failing to recognize that the great bulk (pdf) of that increase has been in shorter-term, defense-related development work. Long-term, basic research in the physical sciences, mathematics and computing has been flat or declining over the same period. But the persistent pressure from industry (industry has really stepped up it's involvement in this advocacy this year, as this conference demonstrated) may be having some effect. Members of the Administration (beyond the usual suspects at OSTP) are beginning to allow a level of dialog with the community that wasn't happening six months ago. (That's intentionally cryptic.) There's no guarantee that it will result in anything, but it's an encouraging development.

    Also encouraging is the imminent introduction of two separate, but very similar, bills designed to push forward an "innovation agenda" that both include substantial authorizations for increased funding for fundamental research in the physical sciences:

    Ensign/Lieberman National Innovation Act of 2005: Planned for introduction on December 15th, this bill, co-introduced by Sens. John Ensign (R-NV) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), would enact most of the recommendations of the Council on Competitiveness' National Innovation Initiative (which we've detailed here). The bill is a pretty massive effort that includes another authorization for "doubling" NSF by 2011; establishes "Innovation Acceleration Grants", which encourage federal research agencies to allocate 3% of their R&D budgets to grants directed toward "high-risk frontier research"; makes permanent the R&E tax credit; increases NSF graduate research fellowship funding; authorizes a DOD competitive traineeship program for undergrad and grad students in defense science and engineering; and authorizes new "Professional Science Master's Degree Programs" to increase the number of qualified scientists and engineers entering the workforce. The bill is actually more of an omnibus -- it contains provisions that will likely result in referrals to six or seven different Senate committees -- which works against it getting passed in its current form. But it's an important placeholder for these issues in Congress and its likely that each of its provisions could find their way into bills that do move. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) plans to introduce a similar measure in the House.

    Alexander/Bingaman Innovation Bill: Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) plan to introduce a bill soon that would enact most of the recommendations of the recent National Academies report Rising Above the Gathering Storm. We've previously covered the recommendations from that report. Alexander and former Commerce Secretary (and still close friend of the President) Don Evans recently took to the airways to talk up the report and Alexander's legislation, with Alexander telling CNBC that he was calling on the President to focus on this innovation issue in his State of the Union address in January -- which would represent a remarkable elevation of the issue. You can download the clip (about 13 megs, asf format) here.

    Finally, there's been lots of good recent press on the issue. Here's some quick and dirty summaries:

  • Norman Augustine, former Lockheed-Martin CEO and chair of the committee that produced the Rising Above the Gathering Storm report, authored an OpEd in the Washington Post on Tuesday, "Learning to Lose: Our Education System Isn't Ready for a World of Competition." A snippet:
    In the five decades since I began working in the aerospace industry, I have never seen American business and academic leaders as concerned about this nation's future prosperity as they are today.

    On the surface, these concerns may seem unwarranted. Two million jobs were created in the United States in the past year. Citizens of other nations continue to invest their savings in this country at a remarkable rate. Our nation still has the strongest scientific and technological enterprise -- and the best research universities -- in the world.

    But deeper trends in this country and abroad are signs of a gathering storm. After the Cold War, nearly 3 billion potential new capitalists entered the job market. A substantial portion of our workforce now finds itself in direct competition for jobs with highly motivated and often well-educated people from around the world. Workers in virtually every economic sector now face competitors who live just a mouse click away in Ireland, Finland, India, China, Australia and dozens of other nations.

  • Morton Kondracke, editor of Roll Call, one of the papers of record for congressional staff and policymakers in the Administration, praised Alexander's proposed legislation in an OpEd yesterday ("Bush Should Offer Science Agenda in State of the Union" (subscription required)).
    In the face of report after report indicating that the United States is at grave risk of losing its technological edge — which in turn is the basis of the high U.S. standard of living — the Bush administration and the GOP Congress so far have been (to be charitable) behind the curve on science and technology.

    Last year, Congress actually cut the budget of the National Science Foundation, and Bush’s 2006 budget called for less funding than the agency had in 2004. Wolf won a small increase, but still not enough to match 2004.

    The Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the primary funder of physics research, got just a 2.9 percent increase in fiscal 2005 and 0.9 percent this year — a cut after inflation.

    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the incubator of, among other things, the Internet and laser technology, got a 5 percent increase in fiscal 2005. The House approved 4.2 percent for fiscal 2006, while the Senate called for a 1.8 percent cut.

    At the innovation summit on Tuesday, Deputy Commerce Secretary David Sampson repeated the familiar administration line that research and development funding has increased 45 percent since 2001 and represents 13.6 percent of the federal discretionary budget.

    Sampson also asserted that the U.S. economic growth rate, 4.3 percent, is “the fastest in the world,” that “all of President Bush’s policies — tax, research and development, education and workforce development — are dedicated to making America more competitive.”

    In fact, the U.S. growth rate trails that of China (9.4 percent), Hong Kong (8.2 percent) and India (8 percent), and all the evidence indicates that those countries are far outstripping the United States in the training of scientists and investment in research and development.


    Bush deserves credit for aggressively responding to the No. 1 threat to America’s well-being — terrorism. He needs to do better in responding to the No. 2 threat, foreign economic competition.

  • William McKenzie OpEd ("Math and science add up to our future") in the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday:
    I don't know about you, but I sometimes grow weary hearing big-picture thinkers tell us we need more mathematicians and scientists. Maybe it was because I wasn't very interested in those subjects as a kid. Whatever, all the talk about math and science can leave my politics-and-history mind blank.

    Several students in Allen said the same thing the other day. When I asked a classroom of high schoolers how many wanted to study math and science in college, one student shot up his hand and said we shouldn't forget the "bohemian" side of the brain, meaning the side that worries about things like war and peace. A number of his fellow students nodded.

    I like their independence, but here's the plain truth that people like me need to remember: We either champion math and science, or we lose our footing in the world. That's hard to imagine since we're the Big Cat economically, militarily and politically.

    But if our schools downplay math and science, Americans will become the 7-foot basketball player who stumbled over his own clumsy feet running down the court. While we're trying to get back up, little fast guys will run right by.

  • San Jose Mercury News Editorial, "U.S. leadership isn't a sure thing; Pelosi Rightly Prods Congress to Get Moving on an 'Innovation Agenda' to Secure America's Future" (behind pay wall):
    Tech luminaries, academics, researchers and business leaders have been sounding alarm bells about America's eroding competitiveness in science and technology for more than a year.

    In study after study, groups such as the Council on Competitiveness, the National Academies, TechNet and AeA explained the problems in clear and stark terms. The rise of tech powerhouses in China, India and elsewhere, and the parallel decline at home in math and science education, in research and development investments, and in broadband infrastructure, have put America's economic leadership and prosperity at risk. These groups also provided sensible, detailed and often strikingly similar solutions to ensure America remains No. 1.

    In Washington, however, it all seemed to fall on deaf ears. Until now.


    Both Democrats and Republicans need to stand for something positive going into next year's election, something that addresses the growing fear of middle-class voters that their children won't enjoy the same opportunities that they've had. Unless Congress adopts legislation to restore America's competitive edge, those fears will be warranted.

    Anyway, as this has already turned into the mother of all blog posts, I'll stop there. But I close with the opinion that there's some reason to be reasonably optimistic about the federal priority for fundamental research changing for the better. The pressure is mounting from numerous fronts: industry is now heavily invested in making the case, significant efforts in Congress are underway, the press has cottoned on to the message, and, as I'll detail in a future post, public attitudes about federal support for research are very positive. All that's really left is for the President to make this a national priority.

    Let's hope that he does....

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 09:45 PM
    Posted to Funding | Policy | R&D in the Press
  • November 18, 2005

    Tech CEOs Say "Smarten Up, America!", Dems Introduce Innovation Agenda

    Business Week has a piece that ran yesterday on TechNet's annual innovation summit held earlier this week. The summit brings together TechNet's CEOs and include a few sessions taped with PBS commentator Charlie Rose. I went to the summit last year and was impressed by the event but a little disappointed that the number one focus on the agenda appeared to be the issue of expensing stock options (obviously a big concern to silicon valley CEOs). This year, it appears there's been a lot more emphasis on R&D funding and competitiveness issues, which is a very good thing. Here's a snippet:

    Tech leaders fretted that falling R&D spending could cripple the U.S. in the future. "I'm very worried, as we cut back on our R&D, that we will fall behind the rest of the world," said [John] Chambers[, CEO of Cisco]. [Venture capitalist John] Doerr also lamented the lack of open-ended research at organizations like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which currently is more focused on specific programs.

    Along the same lines, participants in the conference called for fewer limits on immigration. More stringent immigration limits, thanks to post-9/11 security concerns, are a big problem, said Doerr, because they're cutting the U.S. off from foreign research and engineering talent: "Imagine innovation without [former Intel (INTC ) CEO] Andy Grove, without Jerry Yang, without [Google (GOOG ) co-founder] Sergey Brin." Grove hails from Hungary, Yang from Taiwan, and Brin from Russia.

    The result of immigration limits is that we're losing more foreign-born people who get educated here, said Esther Dyson, editor of the tech newsletter Release 1.0. "Right now, we're spending resources on people only to send them back to other countries," she said. "They used to stay here."

    I have to say, one of the big reasons we're getting any traction in the science advocacy community for our issues is because industry leaders are stepping up to the plate, using some of their valuable access to decision makers to deliver this important message.

    The most recent positive result of that traction is Tuesday's release of the House Democrats' Innovation Agenda. Their proposal is chock full of good things, including proposals to:

    • Add 100,000 new scientists, mathematicians, and engineers to America's workforce in the next four years by providing scholarships, other financial assistance, and private sector opportunities to college students;
    • Double federal funding for basic research and development in the physical sciences and promote public-private partnerships that will translate into ideas for marketable technologies;
    • Create research "centers of excellence" across the country and modernize and make permanent the R&D tax credit;
    • Guarantee that every American will have affordable access to broadband in within five years;
    • Protect the intellectual property of American innovators worldwide.
    Cameron Wilson has more on this on USACM's Technology Policy blog, including a little equal time for the Republicans.

    There aren't many things to disagree with in the Democrats' proposal -- indeed, just about all the ideas proposed have strong bipartisan support. The only worrying aspect of this from my perspective is that it comes crafted as a partisan document. While I would enjoy nothing more than to have the two parties battle it out to show who can support these ideas more emphatically, there's an equal risk (maybe more likely, given the current polarization) of creating a partisan divide where there needn't be one (and there isn't one now).

    There are a couple of other bipartisan efforts in the embryonic state right now to enact many of these same goals. Sens. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and John Ensign (R-NV) are working to put the finishing touches on legislation for introduction that would implement the recommendations of the Council on Competitiveness' National Innovation Initiative; and Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) are moving to craft legislation in response to the recommendations contained in the recent National Academies Rising Above the Gathering Storm report (which we've detailed previously).

    So I hope the Democrats get lots of well-deserved kudos for stating so explicitly the things they're prepared to do to promote American innovation and competitiveness, and I hope it drive Congress generally towards being more supportive of efforts like the bipartisan ones noted above so we can see some real progress moving this agenda forward.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 02:52 PM
    Posted to Funding | Policy | R&D in the Press

    October 26, 2005

    Governors Urge President to Support Fundamental Research

    The governors of 27 states have sent a letter to President Bush urging him to "ensure that federal funding for university-based research remains a top national priority" in FY 2006 and beyond. In their letter, the 16 Democratic and 11 Republican governors make the case that basic research has been the fuel for innovation in their states -- as well as a creator of high-wage jobs and an enabler of workforce productivity -- and they credit the universities and labs performing the research with being "the training ground for our country's next generation of highly-skilled workers." They also cite the changing competitive environment that challenges current U.S. dominance in technology innovation:

    Through economic globalization, competition in research and development has risen dramatically in the last few years. Asian and European countries have committed new resources to scientific and engineering research programs at nearly unprecedented rates. While the U.S. currently remains a global leader in science and technology, we must continue to be at the forefront of discovery and development. Only by investing in the research of today can we take full advantage of the innovations of tomorrow. Despite a period of scarce resources, basic science and engineering research is a vital national investment.
    This is an important message for the President to hear, especially as the Administration is working now to put together his FY 2007 budget in time for its February release.

    Unfortunately, the U.S. basic research enterprise is going to need all the help it can get. As we've noted before, it appears that pressures will be high on Congress to cut mandatory and discretionary spending (including federal science agencies) to offset the spiraling costs for hurricane relief and a possible tax cut. Yesterday, House Majority Leader Roy Blunt noted that Congress will be focusing on three pieces of budget legislation before they wrap up the current session this fall: a package carving savings from mandatory programs, an across-the-board cut in discretionary spending and a new hurricane relief package. Any across-the-board cut is likely to once again fall on agencies like the National Science Foundation, which suffered a similar 2 percent cut last year.

    So any effort by an influential group like the 27 governors who signed this letter (and thanks to the Science Coalition for "working" this letter), is useful in the attempt to reverse what is becoming a very damaging trend of cutbacks in federal support for fundamental research.

    Here's the full letter (pdf, 1 mb). Did your governor sign?

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 08:55 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to FY06 Appropriations | Funding | Policy

    July 27, 2005

    Industry Group Calls for Increased Cyber Security R&D; Congress Hears Message from Former PITAC Members

    In a report released this week, the Cyber Security Industry Alliance -- a group consisting of information security software, hardware and service vendors -- called on Congress and the Administration to ramp up support for fundamental research in cyber security R&D and increase the prominence of cyber security at key federal agencies. CSIA's report, Federal Funding for Cyber Security R&D (pdf) reiterates the findings of the most recent Presidential IT Advisory Committee (PITAC) report (pdf) on the state of federal cyber security research, concluding that the overall investment in cyber security research is inadequate and too focused on the short-term. The CSIA report agrees with the PITAC report's recommendation to increase funding for long-term research in cyber security, noting a number of key security technologies -- firewalls, intrustion detection systems, fault tolerant networks, operating systems, cryptography and advanced authentication -- that bear the stamp of federally-sponsored, long-term research.

    The report differs from the PITAC report slightly in that it calls for the creation of a "designated entity" within DHS to coordinate the federal government's cyber security R&D effort; whereas, PITAC recommended that function remain within the interagency working group activity of the Networking and IT R&D program. CSIA rightly points out that the IWG of NITRD has very little actual influence on priority-setting at the agencies. Instead, they recommend that the new Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security at DHS serve as "the logical choice to drive the prioritization of requirements for research and development." My only concern with that recommendation is that DHS hasn't yet bought into the idea that long-term research efforts should be a priority. DHS's own budget for cyber security R&D remains a paltry $18 million for FY 05, out of an overall science and technology budget of just over a billion dollars. And of that $18 million, barely $2 million could realistically be described as "long-term" research efforts. (DHS's lack of priority for cyber security R&D has been a frequent topic here).

    Otherwise, the CSIA report marches in lockstep with the PITAC report on cyber security R&D (pdf) issued back in March. We strongly endorsed that report and I'm pretty thrilled with the industry report issued this week.

    Coincidentally, two former PITAC members (former because PITAC has been "disbanded" since June 1, 2005...) were on the Hill yesterday to participate in a briefing on cyber security R&D hosted by the Congressional Research and Development Caucus and put together by IEEE and IEEE-CS. Former PITAC Subcommittee on Cyber Security R&D Chair Tom Leighton (Chief Scientist and Co-Founder of Akamai) and former PITAC member Gene Spafford "Spaf" (Professor and Director of CERIAS at Purdue University) told the assembled congressional staffers, science community folks and assorted press about the problems we face in the cyber security arena and what PITAC recommended.

    The briefing was the latest in a series of briefings on the PITAC report and follows a number of hearings on the scope of the cyber security challenge. In April, for example, Spaf and Leighton, along with former PITAC co-Chair Ed Lazowska, participated in a number of focused briefings for Hill staff on the PITAC report. The House Science Committee, as well as the House Homeland Security committee have both held numerous hearings on the subject over the last several years. Yet the extent of the problems we face -- the risk posed by cyber attacks on critical infrastructure, the exposure internet users have to fraud and abuse because of security vulnerabilities, the cost to industry due to cyber extortion and malicious acts -- still appears to shock to congressional staff. I'm not sure they really believe that companies have paid "protection" money to criminals who threatened to take down their web presence with massive distributed denial of service attacks. I'm not sure they really believe that "phishing" and "pharming" attacks are real threats to individual internet users. I'm not sure they understand that IT systems are in the control loop of just about every piece of critical infrastructure in the nation and are vulnerable. I think many believe that the impact of a concerted cyber attack would be limited to something like Amazon being unavailable for the day.

    So despite the reports and briefings and hearings, we in the community haven't done a great job breaking through the noise around homeland security and conveying the importance of cyber security, or by extension cyber security R&D. In part, I think this is because the homeland security debate is really dominated by the specter of a nuclear, biological or chemical (NBC) attack (perhaps rightly so). The idea that a cyber attack could exist on the same scale as any one of the big three isn't so easily embraced by staff. Yet in terms of cost to industry and cost to government, the daily onslaught of cyber attacks must add up to dollar losses that exceed even some of the more dramatic NBC scenarios. But the investment in research to mitigate those losses, or prevent them entirely, pales in comparison to the investments in NBC research at DHS.

    In any case, the continued efforts of folks like Spaf and Leighton, and industry partners like the members of CSIA and ITAA, are helping to educate members of Congress and their staff to the challenges in the area. And, for better or worse, the growing frequency of breeches of customer data held by credit card companies, banks, universities and others is forcing Congress to climb the learning curve....

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 11:57 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | Policy | Security

    Cerf in WSJ: America Gasps for Breath in the R&D Marathon

    Turing Award winner Vint Cerf and ITAA head Harris Miller have a fantastic op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal raising concerns about US competitiveness in light of a declining federal R&D budget. The article is behind the WSJ pay wall, but can be viewed online for the next seven days here. Some snippets:

    America will soon find its grip on the levers of international commerce slipping as we turn our backs on a proud tradition of technology innovation. The stewards of our national destiny are busily tightening the tap on the federal R&D budget, the most important source of funding for programs that seek to answer fundamental questions of science and technology.


    In the 1960s and '70s, a collection of academics and private-sector technologists, including a co-author of this piece, used findings funded by the Pentagon's Advanced Research Projects Agency (now DARPA), to participate in implementation of the first wide-area packet switched network (the ARPANET) and the subsequent integrated collection of packet-switched networks (the Internet).

    Now DARPA officials have revealed a shift in focus away from its history of open-ended long-range research, which typically has been performed in universities and nonprofit institutions. According to recent news reports, DARPA funding for university researchers in computer science has fallen from $214 million to $123 million from 2001 to 2004. Moreover, the focus of DARPA R&D is more near-term and more immediately defense-oriented than before. While this is defensible in some ways, the largest impacts of long-term research funded in the past by DARPA have been in areas that have wider or dual application to defense and the civilian sector.

    The U.S. is already lagging behind in R&D funding. Our total national spending on R&D is 2.7% of our GDP, and now ranks sixth in the world, in relative terms, behind Israel (4.4%), Sweden (3.8%), Finland (3.4%), Japan (3.0%) and Iceland (2.9%). The federal government's share of total national R&D spending has fallen from 66% in 1964 to 25%.

    Some of the outright cuts in the president's proposed R&D budget include the following:

  • The Department of Energy's Office of Science would see its R&D funding fall 4.5% to $3.2 billion.
  • The Department of Agriculture would see its R&D funding decline 14.6% to $2.1 billion.
  • Funding for all three multi-agency R&D initiatives would decline in FY 2006, a category that includes programs such as the National Nanotechnology Initiative and the Networking and Information Technology R&D initiative.
    The proposed cuts come at a time when other nations have fixed their sights firmly on overtaking our technological lead, especially in information technology. For those of us in industry and academia, this shift in policy represents a major detour in the marathon race for global economic leadership.
  • The piece goes on to quote a number of indicators -- many of the same ones cited in the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation's influential Benchmarks of our Innovation Future report -- that show that while the U.S. remains in the leadership position in innovation and R&D investments, all of the trendlines are slanting the wrong way.
    The facile solution is to turn to private industry and academia to make up the difference. But R&D funding from private industry is currently growing above inflation. It is susceptible to general economic cycles, and by its nature it is focused on the here and now. Meanwhile, many academic institutions are battling lagging enrollment and turning to unconventional fund-raising means merely to stay afloat. The difficulty in obtaining visas for foreign scientists has also restricted an important source of talent in the research community.

    In a very real sense, today's R&D agenda determines where America will find itself in the future. The benefits of vigorous, federally funded academic R&D programs reaped by American society at large have been enormous. Our domestic and global economies thrive on the results of such work. Private sector programs alone cannot produce comparable results, in part owing to an ethical obligation to deliver bottom-line business results for their stockholders. The U.S. government needs a long-term strategy for continued economic growth. A strong and thriving academic R&D program is critical to that strategy. To choose otherwise is a recipe leading to irrelevance and decline.

    I'm thrilled to see this piece in the WSJ today....

    I'll have a bit more comment on this later when I have a few minutes, but I wanted to get the pointer to the article up asap. Read the whole thing, while it's still available!

    Update: The article is finding it's way around Congress. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) circulated the piece in a "Dear Colleague" letter along with this text:

    Once again, high technology leaders are warning that declining federal investments in research and development are allowing the rest of the world to catch up. This isn't a problem that can be blamed on Europe or developing economies in Asia. It's a problem that we're creating. If we're to maintain our economic leadership for future generations, we need to increase the federal commitment to R&D instead of cutting it.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 12:52 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | Policy | R&D in the Press

    July 21, 2005

    Help Requested in Support of Defense Authorization Amendment

    Update July 22, 2005: Jason Van Wey of the Coalition for National Security Research (CNSR) has more on the effort to see the amendment passed, including the news that the amendment has picked up a number of important cosponsors. As of this morning, joining Collins and Kennedy on the amendment are Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Rick Santorum (R-PA). Though this bipartisan list of co-sponsors bodes well for passage, your calls are still needed as the Senate works through the amendments to the Defense Authorization today and Monday!

    Originally posted July 21, 2005: Word comes from AAU that Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) will introduce an amendment this afternoon to the FY 06 Defense Authorization bill under consideration today that would increase funding for a number of programs of interest to the computing research community, including a $10 million plus-up to "fundamental computer science and cybersecurity research at DARPA." Senators need to be made aware of the amendment and urged to support it. Here are the details from AAU:

    During Senate consideration today of the FY06 Defense Authorization Act (S. 1042), Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) will offer an amendment to authorize additional funding for the Department of Defense SMART National Defense Education Program, a new scholarship and fellowship program aimed at attracting more students into science and engineering fields.  The amendment also provides additional authorization for basic research programs at U.S. universities.
    CFR members are urged to contact their Senators to ask that they support the Kennedy/Collins amendment when it is considered on the Senate floor.
    A copy of an AAU statement (pdf) supporting the amendment is attached, along with talking points prepared by the Senators’ offices and the text of the amendment.
    The amendment would authorize an additional $50 million for university research and education programs at the Department of Defense. 
    Specifically, the Kennedy/Collins amendment:
  • Increases the SMART National Defense Education Program by $10 million;
  • Increases the Army University Research Initiatives (URI) account by $10 million;
  • Increases the Navy University Research Initiatives (URI) account by $10 million;
  • Increases the Air Force University Research Initiatives (URI) account by $10 million; and
  • Increases the DARPA account by $10 million and specifies that money should be spent on fundamental research in computer science and cybersecurity.
    The amendment also includes a Sense of the Senate that the Department of Defense set a goal to invest 15 percent of its science and technology budget in basic research programs.  The current percentage varies between 11 percent and 12 percent. 
  • The amendment would "pay for" the increases -- every funding increase in an amendment to the bill has to be offset by a reduction somewhere else -- by reducing a planned $2 billion increase to the "defense-wide operations and maintenance fund for IT" by an equal amount.

    The university community here in DC (along with CRA) is mobilizing to contact senators about the amendment. More calls would surely help. Urge your senator (by phone) to support the Collins-Kennedy amendment to the FY 06 Defense Authorization Bill. The bill is on the floor today, so the time is now! We'll have updates as developments warrant....

    Here's a copy of the amendment as well as some talking points. Here's AAU's statement.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 02:32 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    July 19, 2005

    Gates on CS/CE Enrollment and Funding has coverage of the opening of Microsoft Research's sixth annual Faculty Summit, a "a unique opportunity for faculty members and Microsoft researchers, architects, and executives to collectively discuss a vision for the future of computing." Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates had some interesting comments to open the event (along with ACM past-President Maria Klawe). Here's a sample:

    But today, Gates and Klawe focused on the present; specifically, how to encourage more students to enroll in computer-science programs so that the industry will have enough qualified engineers to work on those future innovations.

    Klawe presented some grim figures: The popularity of computer science as a major has fallen more than 60 percent between 2000 and 2004, she said, even though the software engineering and several related jobs will be among the fastest growing through 2012.

    Some of that slack might be taken up by girls if they didn't have such a seeming aversion to the field. Klawe said participation of women in computing has gone down over the past 25 years, with only around 15 percent of computer-science Ph.D.s going to women.

    When Klawe asked Gates what could be done, he seemed to flounder. When he responded, "There's no magic answer. Maybe get women in the field to be more visible?" Klawe hooted him down.

    "No, that's not the answer," she said. "We all do it, but we're not getting anywhere with it."

    "You lose them at about five stages," Gates agreed. "And, if there aren't enough women in field, it makes it less attractive, even if everything else is good. There's a critical-mass element to this."

    The decline in federal funding for academic research and graduate education doesn't help, the two agreed. Money from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) dropped by half last year.

    "The biggest payoff for federal funding or research is in computer science," Gates said, pointing to the economic and technology boom of the 1990s. "Department of Defense money was one of the elements that allowed us to turn this into one of the greatest success periods the U.S. has ever had."

    Computer science could fuel another such boom in the next 10 years, according to Gates.

    "Computer science is becoming the toolkit for all the sciences," he said. As all disciplines become more data-driven, they're turning to computer science to make sense of the huge amounts of data. "Computer science helps model the world," he added.

    Newsday also has coverage of the event, focusing on the declining enrollment in CS/CE question:
    Speaking to hundreds of university professors, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said Monday that he's baffled more students don't go into computer science.

    Gates said that even if young people don't know that salaries and job openings in computer science are on the rise, they're hooked on so much technology _ cell phones, digital music players, instant messaging, Internet browsing _ that it's puzzling why more don't want to grow up to be programmers.

    "It's such a paradox," Gates said. "If you say to a kid, 'Yeah, what are the 10 coolest products you use that your parents are clueless about, that you're good at using,' I don't think they're going to say, 'Oh, you know, it's this new breakfast cereal. And I want to go work in agriculture and invent new cereals or something.' ... I think 10 out of 10 would be things that are software-driven."


    Gates said computer scientists need to do a better job of dispelling that myth and conveying that it's an exciting field.

    "How many fields can you get right out of college and define substantial aspects of a product that's going to go out and over 100 million people are going to use it?" Gates said. "We promise people when they come here to do programming ... they're going to have that opportunity, and yet we can't hire as many people as we'd like."

    Both pieces are chock full of interesting quotes and worth reading. We'll have more on how the computing research community is organizing to take on these issues soon, so watch this space....

    Update: Here's the transcript from Gates and Klawe's opening remarks. And here's a video.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 12:20 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | People | Policy | R&D in the Press

    July 13, 2005

    High End Computing Remains a "Priority" in Administration's FY 07 Plans

    [Back from vacation. Blogging resumes...]

    The Administration has released its annual guidance (pdf) to Federal agencies instructing them on the areas of research and development they should make priorities in their forthcoming FY 2007 budget requests to the White House. The memo, a joint production of the White House Office of Science and Technology and budget gatekeepers, the Office of Management and Budget, "provides general guidance for setting priorities among R&D programs, interagency R&D efforts that should receive special focus in agency budget requests, and reiteration of the R&D Investment Criteria that agencies should use to improve investment decisions for and management of their R&D programs."

    As it was last year, High End Computing and Networking R&D remains a priority for the Adminstration, even at the expense of other items within the Networking and Information Technology R&D portfolio. HEC joins Homeland Security R&D, the National Nanotechnology Initiative, Priorities in the Physical Sciences, Understanding Complex Biological Systems, and Energy and Environment as focal points in the Administration's R&D portfolio. Here's the relevant language from the computing section:

    While the importance of each of the Networking and Information Technology R&D (NITRD) program areas continues, investments in high-end computing and cyber infrastructure R&D should be given higher relative priority due to their potential for broad impact. Agency plans in high-end computing must be consistent with the 2004 Federal Plan for High-End Computing and should aggressively focus on supercomputing capability, capacity and accessibility issues by emphasizing coordination, leveraging the efforts of all agencies and, where appropriate, use of coordinated multi-agency investments. Advanced networking research (including test-beds) on hardware and software for secure, reliable, distributed computing environments and tools that provide the communication, analysis and sharing of very large amounts of information will accelerate discovery and enable new technological advances. Agency requests should reflect these program priorities by reallocating funds from lower priority efforts. Agencies supporting R&D in these and all NITRD areas are expected to participate in interagency planning through the NSTC to guide future investments. Reflecting the importance of cyber security, agencies should continue to work through the NSTC to generate a detailed gap analysis of R&D funding in this area.
    Even though the FY 2006 budget process is still unsettled, this memo gives a good peek at the Administration's thinking for FY 2007. Not surprisingly, the memo implies that next year's budget will likely be as flat as this year, noting that
    Agencies may propose new, high-priority activities, but these requests should identify potential offsets by elimination or reductions in less effective or lower priority programs or programs where Federal involvement is no longer needed or appropriate.
    So, it will again be critically important that the computing community work with agencies to make sure that the right priorities are struck in this zero-sum game....

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 11:29 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | Policy

    June 22, 2005

    Appropriations Update: Senate CJS Less Generous than House for NSF

    The first details from the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science markup of its FY 2006 appropriations bill seem to indicate the panel has placed a significantly lower priority on the National Science Foundation than their colleagues in the House. Details are scant at the moment -- we'll know more when the committee report accompanying the Senate bill is released later today or tomorrow -- but from the committee's press release it appears NSF would receive $5.5 billion for FY 2006, an increase of just $58.1 million over the FY 2005 estimated level, but $113 million less than the House approved last week. Given that some portion of the $58 million will have to be used by NSF to cover their new obligation to reimburse the U.S. Coast Guard for icebreaking efforts in support of the Foundation's polar programs, it's not clear that the agency's research programs will benefit much, if at all, from the subcommittee's increase.

    Instead of a focus on NSF within the science portion of the bill, the subcommittee parted ways with the House by including a significant increase for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- $551 million above the FY 2005 level and $895 million above the President's request for FY 06 -- and by funding NIST's controversial Advanced Technology Program (ATP) at $140 million for FY 06. The House version of the bill cut NOAA funding and provided zero support for ATP.

    The full appropriations committee is expected to mark up the Senate CJS bill on Thursday, so further detail should become available. There will be opportunities to address the inadequate support level for NSF apparently provided by the subcommittee. The bill will be open to amendment when it comes to the Senate floor -- but as with the House process, those amendments must be zero-sum, taking funding from one agency within the bill to pay for increases elsewhere -- and priorities can shift significantly during the conference process with the House. The widely differing priorities within the House and Senate versions has virtually guaranteed a contentious conference process, so the science community (including CRA) will have to continue to stay engaged to make sure NSF and the other science agencies receive as much support as possible. Watch this space for opportunities to be part of that process. If you haven't yet signed up for CRA's Computing Research Advocacy Network, now would be a great time....

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 07:28 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to FY06 Appropriations | Funding

    June 02, 2005

    NY Times OpEd on Cyber Security: "Virtually Unprotected"

    The New York Times editorializes today that, despite the very real threat, the nation continues to be woefully unprepared to defend against a "cyberattack" on our critical infrastructure.

    Power grids, water treatment and distribution systems, major dams, and oil and chemical refineries are all controlled today by networked computers. Computers make the nation's infrastructure far more efficient, but they also make it more vulnerable. A well-planned cyberattack could black out large parts of the country, cut off water supplies or worse. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission found that in 2003 a malicious, invasive program called the Slammer worm infected the computer network at a nuclear power plant and disabled its safety monitoring system for nearly five hours.

    Despite the warnings after 9/11 - and again after the 2003 blackout - disturbingly little has been done. The Government Accountability Office did a rigorous review of the Department of Homeland Security's progress on every aspect of computer security, and its findings are not reassuring. It found that the department has not yet developed assessments of the threat of a cyberattack or of how vulnerable major computer systems are to such an attack, nor has it created plans for recovering key Internet functions in case of an attack. The report also expressed concern that many of the department's senior cybersecurity officials have left in the past year. Representative Zoe Lofgren, the California Democrat who was among those who requested the G.A.O. report, said last week that it proved that "a national plan to secure our cybernetworks is virtually nonexistent."

    As we've noted previously, the President's IT Advisory Committee came to a similar conclusion in its report (pdf) on Cyber Security R&D, released last March. That report concluded that the federal government is largely failing in its responsibility to protect the nation from cyberthreats and recommended an immediate increase in the amount of support for cyber security research at NSF, DHS, and DARPA, and greater emphasis on civilian networks in addition to military-oriented networks.

    Unfortunately, the early results of this appropriations season show that the recommendations for DHS continue to go largely unheeded....

    Update: Ed Felten has a thoughtful post at Freedom to Tinker on the difficulty of addressing the cyberthreat problem with government action.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 01:13 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | R&D in the Press | Security

    May 24, 2005

    Appropriations Update: FY 2006 Science, Commerce, Justice, State

    The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, Commerce, Justice, State marked-up it's FY 2006 appropriations bill earlier today and included increases for NSF and NASA. Details are a little sparse until we see the full committee print next week, but here are the early figures:

    NSF would increase 3.1% -- $171 million over FY 2005, $38 million more than the President's request -- to $5.64 billion. NSF's research accounts would grow $157 million over FY 05 to $4.38 billion, and education and human resources would fall to $807 million, from $841 million in FY 05 -- but $70 million over the President's request.

    NASA would receive $15 million more than the President's request, and $40 million that had been cut from the angecy's aeronautics program in the budget request will be restored.

    NIST reportedly would receive $549 million, including $106 million for the controversial Manufacturers Extension Partnership program. (No word on ATP).

    We'll have more details after the bill moves to the full Appropriations committee next week and the committee report accompanying the bill (and explaining the cuts and increases) is published.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 02:01 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to FY06 Appropriations | Funding

    May 20, 2005

    Appropriations Update: FY 2006 House Energy and Water

    The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday completed its markup of the FY 2006 Energy and Water Appropriation bill (HR 2419), which includes funding for the Department of Energy, approving increased funding for DOE's Office of Science. The House bill would boost the Office of Science budget to $3.67 billion in FY 06, an increase of $66 million over FY 05, and $203 million more than the President requested in his FY 06 budget.

    Included in the increase is a $14 million increase to the Advanced Scientific Computational Research program, bringing it to $246 million in FY 06, $39 million above the President's request. Here is what the committee had to say about the program in the committee report accompanying the bill:

    The Committee recommendation is $246,055,000, an increase of $39,000,000 over the budget request. The additional $39,000,000 is provided to support the Office of Science initiative to develop the hardware, software, and applied mathematics necessary for a leadership-class supercomputer to meet scientific computation needs; not more than $25,000,000 of this increase should be dedicated to hardware, and $9,000,000 of the total increase should be dedicated to competitive university research grants. The Committee is disappointed that the Department's fiscal year 2006 budget request did not preserve the increases that Congress provided for this purpose during the past two fiscal years. Consistent with guidance provided in prior years, the Committee has chosen not to earmark these additional funds for a particular laboratory or a particular technology. However, the Committee expects the Department to make full use of the laboratory-industry capabilities that have already been selected competitively in previous years and not `reinvent the wheel' each fiscal year.
    This is the first good news for computing researchers in the FY 2006 appropriations cycle, coming after the House approved a slight cut to cyber security research efforts at the Department of Homeland Security.

    The House is scheduled to consider the bill on the floor early next week. The Senate hasn't yet begun work on its version of the bill. Fortunately, support for the Office of Science in the Senate appears pretty strong. A letter urging Senate Appropriators to approve a significant increase to the Office of Science (to $3.7 billion, slightly more than the House approved), received the endorsement of more than 2/3 of the members of the Senate, a strong symbolic show of support for the agency. We'll keep you apprised of developments as the bill moves forward.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 01:44 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to FY06 Appropriations | Funding

    May 18, 2005

    House Passes Homeland Security Approps; Cyber Security Still Not a Priority

    Despite a $213 million increase to the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate in FY 2006 and a report from a presidential advisory committee noting the dangerous lack of support for cyber security research at DHS, the House approved a cut to cyber security research activities at the agency as part of the FY 2006 Homeland Security appropriations bill. The House approved the President's request of $16.7 million for cyber security research in FY 2006, a decrease of $1.3 million from the FY 2005 enacted level.

    Here's a handy table showing the additions and cuts to the DHS S&T budget.

    FY 2006 DHS Science and Technology Appropriations
    House Approved Version
    FY 2005
    FY 2006 Request
    FY 2006 House Approved
    $ Change FY 2006 Approps vs. FY 2005 Enacted
    Technology Development and Transfer
    Biological Countermeasures
    Chemical Countermeasures
    Explosives Countermeasures
    Radiological and Nuclear countermeasures
    Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
    Conventional Missions in Support of DHS
    Threat and Vulnerability, Testing and Assessment
    Emerging Threats
    University Porgrams/Homeland Security Fellowship Programs
    Cyber Security
    Critical Infrastructure Protection
    Rapid Prototyping Program
    Counter MANPADS
    Interoperability and Compatibility
    SAFETY Act
    Research and Development Consolidation
    $117$117 -
    Total, Research, Development, Acquisition, and Operations

    There will be a couple of opportunities to address the cut to cyber security research as the bill moves through the appropriations process. The Senate has yet to act on its version of the bill. They've been briefed on the PITAC report, but it's not known whether they'll deviate much from the President's requested level for the program. This highlights the importance of advocacy efforts that target the President's budget request in addition to the congressional appropriations cycle, especially when the President and the congressional majority are all the same party....

    Update: Cameron Wilson at USACM has a good post on the Dept. of Homeland Security Authorization Act (pdf), which is also likely to make it to the House floor this week. The bill creates a new Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity within the department and authorizes $19 million worth of cyber security R&D within the S&T directorate, including "long-term research." In essence, the language authorizes spending that's already going on (see above), though having a higher authorization could make increasing the appropriation a little easier as the appropriations bill moves forward.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 10:48 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to FY06 Appropriations | Funding

    May 06, 2005

    LA Times on DARPA R&D: "The Imagination Drain"

    Apparently inspired by this week's Science editorial by Ed Lazowska and Dave Patterson (covered here), the Los Angeles Times today editorializes on DARPA and university IT research.

    Since 1961, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, or DARPA, has distributed IT research dollars in largely open-ended grants to universities. The grants encouraged basic research aimed not at marketable innovations but at basic scientific mysteries. DARPA and its investments have paid off handsomely nevertheless.

    Its legendary role in developing the Internet as a free-for-all instead of a commercially owned space is widely known. Less so are its militarily and commercially important developments, such as global positioning satellites, the JPEG file format for efficiently storing photographs and Websearching technologies like those later refined by Google.

    Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, however, Homeland Security officials have pushed DARPA to rein in its democratic funding systems. Grants once available to universities can now flow only to military contractors, and graduate student support once open to the most excellent thinkers can be offered only to U.S. citizens. Administration officials say the changes are needed to keep technological innovations out of the hands of potential terrorists. The effect may be instead to dampen imagination itself.

    Here's the whole thing.

    The collection of articles and editorials addressing this issue since the story first ran in the New York Times back on April 1, 2005 (covered previously) is almost too long to list. But I've done my best here.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 05:47 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | Policy | R&D in the Press

    May 03, 2005

    Wolf Calls for Tripling of "Innovation Budget"

    Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding NSF and NASA, today stepped up his effort to champion federal support for basic research by urging President Bush to triple funding for federal basic research and development over the next decade. Wolf made the request in a letter to Bush (pdf), noting that

    America today finds herself at a crossroads when it comes to leading the world in science and innovation. We can continue down the current path, as other nations continue to narrow the gap, or we can take bold, dramatic steps to ensure U.S. economic leadership in the 21st century and a rising standard of living for all Americans.
    The letter calls on the President to make a "bold commitment" to invest in the future of the country by tripling of the "innovation budget" -- federal basic research -- and continues:
    We must ensure for future generations that America continues to be the innovation leader of the world. Investing in research and development is a critical part of optimizing our nation for innovation, a process that will require strong leadership and involvement from government, industry, academia and labor. We must choose whether to innovate or abdicate.
    Since becoming chair of the reorganized Science, State, Justice, Commerce appropriations committee in January, Wolf has become an outspoken advocate for federal support of fundamental research. As we've noted previously, much of the credit for this has to go to the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation and its "Benchmarks" report, from which Wolf apparently grabbed a number of examples for his letter (he's cited the report elsewhere, as well).

    Wolf's goal in writing to the President isn't to affect the FY 06 appropriations process directly -- after all, at this point the President's only official role in the FY 06 budget process is to veto or sign the final approps bill -- but to encourage the President to make basic research a priority in his FY 2007 budget request. Doing so would give appropriators next year more "headroom" to increase budgets for basic research -- headroom sorely lacking this year. This is an approach many groups in the science community (including CRA) are taking as well, in addition to working very hard to get the highest possible funding level in FY 06.

    We'll have more details in the coming weeks on other opportunities for Wolf and others to make the case for federal support of fundamental research. In the meantime, you can read a scan of Wolf's two-page letter to the President here.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 08:46 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    April 26, 2005

    High Performance Computing Act Passes House

    CRA commends the House for its swift passage today of the High Performance Computing Revitalization Act (H.R. 28). The bill, which would provide sustained access by the research community to federal HPC assets, assure a balanced portfolio in HPC research pursuits and beef up interagency planning, passed by voice vote. The measure now moves on to the Senate, where previous efforts to reauthorize portions of the Networking and Information Technology R&D program have failed to receive timely consideration.

    Here's our previous coverage of the bill, which has a bit more detail.

    CRA and USACM joined in issuing a press release applauding the bill's authors and the members of the House for moving the legislation. A copy of that release can be found after the jump.

    The House Science Committee's press release has further (positive) reaction from Chair Sherwood Boehlert.

    "This is very important legislation that deals with the competitiveness of the United States of America in the global marketplace. We are not going to be preeminent in the competitive world if we don't invest wisely and direct our resources in the proper way, because the competition is all over the place. It isn't one state against another.  It's the United States against the world.  Right now, we're ahead. That's the position I like.  But when we look back, we see a lot of people following closely behind.  That's why it's critically important that we do things like invest in high-performance computing so that we maintain our competitive edge."

    CRA Press Release

    CRA Contact:
    Peter Harsha
    CRA Director of Government Affairs
    P: 202-234-2111 ext 106

    ACM Contact:
    Cameron Wilson
    ACM Director of Public Policy
    P: 202-659-9712

    Computing Researchers, Professionals Applaud Passage of High Performance Computing Legislation

    WASHINGTON, DC, April 26, 2005 - Two leading computing societies today praised the House of Representatives for approving a measure that would authorize efforts in high-performance computing research and development. The Computing Research Association and the Association for Computing Machinery's U.S. Public Policy Committee commended the passage of the High Performance Computing Revitalization Act (H.R. 28), which demonstrates the continued importance of federal investment in computing research and development.

    “Innovations in IT - the fruits of computing research, including high performance computing research - continue to drive U.S. productivity and enable the new economy,” said CRA Chairman James D. Foley. “The House today sent an important message that a sustained commitment to U.S. leadership in computing research is a prerequisite to future innovation and competitiveness.”

    “We commend Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), and Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-TN) for introducing the bill, as well as Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Ranking Member Bart Gordon (D-TN) and the other co-sponsors for their continued leadership in making the case for federal support of fundamental IT research and development.

    “The bill comes at an important time for the computing research community,” Foley said. “Recent changes to the landscape for federal support of computing - most notably, the shift away from support of fundamental IT R&D at universities by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - have left gaps in the federal portfolio that threaten to constrain future innovation in IT. The passage of the HPC Revitalization Act, as well as a planned May 12, 2005, hearing of the House Science Committee on the issue, demonstrates that Congress is sensitive to these concerns and to the important role federal support plays in the innovation process.”

    Eugene H. Spafford, Chair of USACM and a member of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee, also lauded the action. "IT R&D -- and especially investment in basic research and infrastructure -- is an investment that pays enormous dividends," said Spafford. "It fuels innovation that will help the U.S. retain world leadership in business, develop new jobs and industries, enhance public safety and national defense, and provide means to support research to live longer, healthier lives."

    Spafford continued, "Investing in basic research may not often show immediate results, and is thus a difficult choice to make in times of strained budgets. However, history has proven, time and again, that a significant investment strategy in scientific research -- and especially in computing-related research -- pays huge dividends in the future. Fundamental breakthroughs cannot be discovered and matured for the market in a short time scale."

    “We commend the House for its quick passage of the HPC Revitalization Act, and encourage the Senate to take up and pass similar legislation soon,” Foley said.


    The Computing Research Association (CRA) is an association of more than 200 North American Academic departments of computer science, computer engineering, and related fields; laboratories and centers in industry, government and academia engaging in basic computing research; and affiliated professional societies. For more information:

    USACM is the U.S. Public Policy Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery, which is the world's first educational and scientific computing society with almost 80,000 members worldwide. It is widely recognized as the premier organization for computing professionals, delivering resources that advance the computing and IT disciplines, enable professional development, and promote policies and research that benefit society.


    Posted by PeterHarsha at 05:32 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | Policy

    April 25, 2005

    Roll Call OpEd Calls on Congress to Support Science

    Roll Call's Morton Kondracke writes in an OpEd (sub. req'd) that Congress must act to increase federal support for fundamental research or risk future competitiveness. The good news is, he notes, is that Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice, Commerce committee, appears to be up to the challenge.

    Wolf, who has led Congressional campaigns against gambling and has focused national attention on religious persecution and other human rights violations around the world, is now putting together an agenda to reverse America's decline in science.

     On April 12, he and two House colleagues - accompanied by former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) - announced the introduction of legislation to have the U.S. government pay the interest on undergraduate loans for students who agree to work in science, math or engineering for a five-year period.

     Wolf also favors holding a blue-ribbon national conference on technology, trade and manufacturing where leaders of industry would highlight the danger to U.S. leadership. He wants to triple funding for federal basic-science programs over a period of years.

     Wolf told me in an interview, rather diplomatically, that "I personally believe that [the Bush administration is] underfunding science. Not purposefully. I think we have a deficit problem, and previous administrations have underfunded it also."

     Gingrich is less diplomatic. "I am totally puzzled by what they've done with the basic-research budget," he told me. "As a national security conservative and as a world trade-economic competition conservative, I cannot imagine how they could have come up with this budget."

     He continued: "There's no point in arguing with them internally. They're going to do what they are going to do. But I think if this Congress does not substantially raise the research budget, we are unilaterally disarming from the standpoint of international competition."

    Much of the credit for influencing Wolf's position has to go to the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation (of which CRA is a member). Their Benchmarks of Our Innovation Future (pdf) report seems to be resonating well with congressional offices, and special efforts to reach out to Wolf (who has been very receptive) seem to be paying off.

    Now the trick is to turn that enthusiasm into real appropriations -- something that remains a real challenge in current budget environment. We'll keep you posted.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 05:06 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | Policy | R&D in the Press

    April 20, 2005

    Ball Keeps Rolling: Ornstein Writes in Support of Basic Research and IT R&D at DARPA

    This OpEd (free link) by Norman Ornstein, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (a reasonably influential conservative think tank -- Newt Gingrich is also a fellow), ran today in Roll Call (sub req'd), "the Newspaper of Capitol Hill." It's a strong defense of federal support of basic research that cites DARPA's declining support for university computer science research as one of the flawed policy decisions that need correcting to preserve our future competitiveness. Here's a snippet:

    But I am growing increasingly alarmed, less because of the dynamism in Asia and more because of our blindness and obtuseness when it comes to our crown jewel: our overwhelming lead in basic research and our position as home to the best scientists in the world.

    Basic research is the real building block of economic growth, and here we have had the franchise; just look at the number of Nobel Prize winners from the United States compared to the rest of the world combined. Our academic institutions and research labs have been magnets attracting, and often keeping, the best and the brightest. Our academic openness and our culture of freedom have encouraged good research and challenges to orthodoxy. Our politicians have recognized that most basic research has to be funded by the government because there is scant short-term economic benefit for most businesses to do it themselves.

    But now, in a variety of ways, we are frittering away this asset, and for no good reason. Start with the federal budget. Basic research has been concentrated in a few key institutions: the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency at the Pentagon. After a series of pledges to double the NIH budget and then keep it on a growth path, NIH has stagnated. Budget growth for next year is one-half of 1 percent, which will be below inflation for the first time since the 1980s, at a time when the need for more biomedical research is obvious.

    The NSF budget is slated to grow by 2 percent, leaving it $3 billion below the funding level Congress promised in 2002. At NIST, the Bush administration is trying to eliminate the Advanced Technology Program and to slash the Manufacturing Extension Partnership by 57 percent. At DARPA, which originated the Internet but where computer science research has been flat for several years, the money going to university researchers has fallen precipitously, along with a larger focus on applied research for the here and now.

    It is gut check time. The foolish fiscal policies that keep big entitlements off the table, won’t consider revenues along with spending, and have turned the one-sixth of the budget that is discretionary into a vicious, zero-sum game, are truly eating our seed corn in this critical area. Somebody needs to get the White House to wake up, and Congress to understand what it is mindlessly doing.

    And with that, the (bipartisan) chorus of voices grows....

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 01:59 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | R&D in the Press

    April 17, 2005

    Seattle Post-Intelligencer Worries About Cuts to Federal R&D

    The Seattle PI makes the economic case for federal support of R&D in an editorial today.

    But what happens if the United States not only gives up every trade protection benefit, continues to suffer a loss of manufacturing and fritters away its research leadership in science, medicine and technology?

    That's a lose-lose proposition. And it ought to worry U.S. leaders a lot more than it has so far.

    Read it all.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 11:00 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | R&D in the Press

    The Drumbeat Continues: SJ Merc News on DARPA IT R&D and Universities

    Following in the wake of news stories and OpEds in the New York Times, the San Jose Mercury News editorializes today on the negative impact of DARPA's shift away from university researchers in computer science and engineering.

    Of all the government sources of funding for basic technology research, few have delivered more breakthroughs for Silicon Valley and the U.S. economy than the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.

    That's why a shift away from basic and university research in DARPA funding is alarming for the valley and for the future of innovation in the United States. Long-term casualties could eventually include America's competitiveness and military readiness.


    The shift at DARPA is all the more troubling as it goes hand in hand with decreases in funding for basic research across the Pentagon and at the National Science Foundation. What's more, these subtle yet significant changes have occurred without a national debate.

    The time to have that debate is now. If these trends continue, America will pay dearly for them.

    Fortunately, it appears that Congress is getting interested in having that debate. In early May the House Science Committee will hold a hearing on the issue. Testifying before the committee will be John Marburger, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Tony Tether, Director of DARPA; Bill Wulf, President of the National Academy of Engineering; and Tom Leighton, Co-Founder and Chief Scientist at Akamai Industries, and Chair of the PITAC Subcommittee on Cyber Security, which just released it's review of the federal government's cyber security R&D programs. We, of course, will bring you all the details.

    In the meantime, read the full editorial.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 10:43 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | Policy | R&D in the Press

    April 16, 2005

    NY Times' Friedman OpEd on Bush Failure to Support Innovation, U.S. Competitiveness

    Since Sue, Ed, Andy, and a whole host of my relatives have all sent me a pointer to this OpEd by Thomas Friedman in the NY Times, you may have already seen it. But that doesn't make it any less worth noting.

    Friedman picks up where former Clinton defense officials Perry and Deutch left off earlier in the week (which we covered here), who picked up where NY Times reporter John Markoff left off a couple weeks earlier (which we covered here), arguing that the Bush Administration, by cutting the U.S. investment in fundamental research, has put not only our national security at risk (as noted by Perry and Deutch), but our economic security at risk as well.

    The Bush team is proposing cutting the Pentagon's budget for basic science and technology research by 20 percent next year - after President Bush and the Republican Congress already slashed the 2005 budget of the National Science Foundation by $100 million.

    When the National Innovation Initiative, a bipartisan study by the country's leading technologists and industrialists about how to re-energize U.S. competitiveness, was unveiled last December, it was virtually ignored by the White House. Did you hear about it? Probably not, because the president preferred to focus all attention on privatizing Social Security.

    It's as if we have an industrial-age presidency, catering to a pre-industrial ideological base, in a post-industrial era.

    Of course, when Friedman writes regarding the National Innovation Initiative
    Did you hear about it? Probably not...
    he's obviously not referring to readers of this blog, who read all about the Council on Competitiveness report back on December 15th. :)

    Friedman has hit the Administration and Congress hard (and repeatedly) for allowing NSF to be cut in the FY 2005 appropriations, so I'm glad to see him continue to bang the drum for federal support for fundamental research.

    So, read the whole thing, and thanks to Sue, Ed, Andy and my relations for pointing it out.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 05:37 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | Policy | R&D in the Press

    April 13, 2005

    Former Clinton DOD Officials Note Lack of DOD S&T Support

    The New York Times has an interesting OpEd today from former secretary of defense William Perry and his former undersecretary John Deutch on the lack of support for basic research, applied research and advanced technology development (collectively, "Defense Science and Technology") at the Department of Defense.

    Of the Pentagon's $419.3 billion budget request for next year, only about $10.5 billion - 2 percent - will go toward basic research, applied research and advanced technology development. This represents a 20 percent reduction from last year, a drastic cutback that threatens the long-term security of the nation. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should reconsider this request, and if he does not, Congress should restore the cut.

    These research and development activities, known as the "technology base" program, are a vital part of the United States defense program. For good reason: the tech base is America's investment in the future. Over the years, tech base activities have yielded advances in scientific and engineering knowledge that have given United States forces the technological superiority that is responsible in large measure for their current dominance in conventional military power.

    While it's not earth-shattering that members of the previous administration might question the priorities of the current administration, the OpEd adds to the chorus of voices expressing concern about DOD R&D trends.

    Worth reading the whole thing.

    And watch this space for news of yet another influential voice raising concerns....

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 11:38 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | Policy | R&D in the Press

    April 12, 2005

    Wolf/Ehlers To Introduce Bill to Assist Math, Science and Engineering Majors

    There hasn't been much discussion of this bill around town, but today Reps. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Chair of the Science, Justice, Commerce, State House Appropriations Subcommittee, and Vern Ehlers (R-MI), Chair of the Environment, Technology and Standards House Science Subcommittee, will introduce a bill aimed at increasing the number of students in math, science or engineering by forgiving interest on undergraduate student loans for students in those majors who agree to work five years in their fields upon graduate. From the release:

    While the need for science and engineering positions in the United States has grown five times the rate of the civilian workforce as a whole since 1980, U.S. colleges and universities have experienced a steady decline in the number of American students earning science and engineering degrees. In 2000, Asian universities accounted for almost 1.2 million of the world's science and engineering degrees, European universities (including Russia and eastern Europe) accounted for 850,000 and North American universities accounted for only about 500,000, according to the most recent statistics available to the National Science Foundation.

    America's advantage in science is slipping. This bill is aimed at reversing that trend by attracting and retaining more math, science and engineering undergraduate students.

    The press conference (at 1 pm today, outside the Capitol) will bring together Former House Speaker Newt Gingrinch, who wrote about this idea in his recent book, the two congressmen, and Alan Merten, President of George Mason University.

    Apparently Wolf was motivated in part by trends he saw presented in a Task Force of the Future of American Innovation report called Benchmarking our Innovation Future (pdf). (CRA is a member of the Task Force.) We've covered the report, most recently here.

    The benchmarks indicate that the U.S. is in danger of losing its leadership role in science and innovation, a position it has held with a firm grip since the end of World War II.

    We'll have more coverage on this as it moves forward, but in the meantime, here's a copy of the draft version of the bill (pdf) (for those who like to pick through legislative language).

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 12:24 PM | TrackBack
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    April 09, 2005

    Washington Post OpEd: "Our Incredible Shrinking Curiosity"

    Washington Post science and technology writer Rick Weiss riffs off of the recent news that NASA plans to pull the plug on the Voyager missions to demonstrate that the U.S. support for research has become too mundane -- too evolutionary rather than revolutionary, too focused on short-term gains versus long-term results. The two Voyager probes, three decades after being launched on their tour of the outer planets, are now tickling the edge of interstellar space and still sending back data. NASA's FY 2006 budget request eliminates funding for the Voyager program and a suite of other space probes (total cost savings = $23 million in FY 06) as part of the agency's effort to refocus on the President's Moon/Mars initiative -- an initiative that has led to significant cuts elsewhere in the agency as well. Unfortunately, the problems aren't just limited to NASA:

    It would be less disheartening if the move to kill the Voyager program were an isolated example. But the U.S. scientific enterprise is riddled with evidence that Americans have lost sight of the value of non-applied, curiosity-driven research -- the open-ended sort of exploration that doesn't know exactly where it's going but so often leads to big payoffs. In discipline after discipline, the demand for specific products, profits or outcomes -- "deliverables," in the parlance of government -- has become the dominant force driving research agendas. Instead of being exploratory and expansive, science -- especially in the wake of 9/11 -- seems increasingly delimited and defensive.

    Take, for example, the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency -- arguably the nation's premier funder of unencumbered scientific exploration, whose early dabbling in computer network design gave rise to the Internet. Agency officials recently acknowledged to Congress that they were shifting their focus away from blue-sky research and toward goal-oriented and increasingly classified endeavors.

    Similarly, in geology, scientists have for years sought funds to blanket the nation with thousands of sensors to create an enormous, networked listening device that might teach us something about how the earth is shifting beneath our feet. The system got so far as to be authorized by Congress for $170 million over five years, but only $16 million has been appropriated in the first three of those years and just 62 of an anticipated 7,000 sensors have been deployed. Only in fiscal 2006, thanks to the South Asian tsunami, is the program poised to get more fully funded -- out of a narrow desire to better predict the effects of such disasters here.

    The Department of Energy in February announced it is killing the so-called BTeV project at Fermilab in Batavia, Ill., one of the last labs in this country still supporting studies in high-energy physics. This field, once dominated by the United States, promises to discover in the next decade some of the most basic subatomic particles in the universe, including the first so-called supersymmetric particle -- a kind of stuff that seems to account for the vast majority of matter in the universe but which scientists have so far been unable to put their fingers on.

    "We seem to have reached a point where people are so overwhelmed by the problems we face, we're not sure we really need more frontiers," said Kei Koizumi of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, noting that the only segments of the nation's research and development budget enjoying real growth are defense and homeland security.

    We've covered the DARPA story and its impact on computer science research pretty extensively (latest here).

    Anyway, it's a good piece -- it even starts with a Star Trek quote. Read it all here.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 10:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | Policy | R&D in the Press

    April 08, 2005

    Reps. Ehlers and Holt Circulate Letter Urging Increased NSF Funding

    As the appropriations season gets underway in earnest, Representatives Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and Rush Holt (D-NJ) have once again begun their push to secure more funding for the National Science Foundation by asking fellow members of the House to urge the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice and Commerce to fund NSF at $6.1 billion in FY 2006 -- an increase of $627 million over FY 2005 (11 percent). Ehlers and Holt have circulated a Dear Colleague (pdf) letter to the members of the House, laying out a concise case for NSF:

    Advances in science and technology underpin our ability to meet many of the challenges that America faces today, including securing the homeland, preventing terrorism, fostering innovation and economic development, and educating our children to be able to compete in the knowledge-based, global economy. As a nation we must continue to invest in our scientific enterprise.

    Supporting the National Science Foundation (NSF) is key to maintaining our preeminence in science and technology. NSF investments are aimed at the frontiers of science and engineering, where advances in fundamental knowledge drive innovation, progress, and productivity. NSF supports the education of scientists and engineers as well as the workforce of tommorrow -- a workforce in which all workers, from office assistants to rocket scientists, will require basic math and science skills.

    The Dear Colleague then asks the member to sign a letter (pdf) that will be delivered to Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Ranking Member Alan Mollohan (D-WV). That letter makes a more detailed case for NSF (it's worth reading (pdf)).

    Last year, Ehlers and Holt, with the help of the scientific community, were able to convince 157 of their colleagues (but only 41 Republicans) to sign a similar letter, which was a good symbolic result, but didn't mitigate the 2 percent cut the agency suffered as a result of the FY 05 appropriations process. The hope this year is to encourage more members to sign on and greatly increase the number of Republicans...

    ...Which makes this a good time to consider -- if you haven't already -- joining CRA's Computing Research Advocacy Network (CRAN), our electronic mailing list that delivers timely information about key advocacy opportunities. CRA will once again be involved in this effort, and the CRAN will likely play a significant role. All the details to join are here!

    Update: (4:45 pm, 4/8/05) Corrected the count of GOP signers.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 11:46 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    April 01, 2005

    Must Read: NY Times - "A Blow to Computer Science Research"

    John Markoff writes in detail in Saturday's NY Times about DARPA's diminishing investment in university-based computer science research and its potential impact.

    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency at the Pentagon - which has long underwritten open-ended "blue sky" research by the nation's best computer scientists - is sharply cutting such spending at universities, researchers say, in favor of financing more classified work and narrowly defined projects that promise a more immediate payoff.

    Hundreds of research projects supported by the agency, known as Darpa, have paid off handsomely in recent decades, leading not only to new weapons, but to commercial technologies from the personal computer to the Internet. The agency has devoted hundreds of millions of dollars to basic software research, too, including work that led to such recent advances as the Web search technologies that Google and others have introduced.

    The shift away from basic research is alarming many leading computer scientists and electrical engineers, who warn that there will be long-term consequences for the nation's economy. They are accusing the Pentagon of reining in an agency that has played a crucial role in fostering America's lead in computer and communications technologies.

    "I'm worried and depressed," said David Patterson, a computer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley who is president of the Association of Computing Machinery, an industry and academic trade group. "I think there will be great technologies that won't be there down the road when we need them."

    Markoff's piece is largely based on answers the agency provided the Senate Armed Services Committee in response to the committee's questions about DARPA's historical support of IT R&D and the role of universities. In their response, DARPA noted that their overall support for computer science activites has averaged $578 million a year (inflation adjusted) for the last 13 years and that university participation in that research over the last 4 years has plummeted. (Due to "data constraints" they don't have figures prior to FY 01.) In FY 01, DARPA funded $546 million in IT research overall, $214 million in universities. By FY 2004, the overall funding had risen to $583 million, and the university share had dropped to $123 million.

    DARPA cited five "factors for the decline":

    1. A change in emphasis in the high performance computing program from pure research to supercomputer construction;
    2. Significant drop in unclassified information security research;
    3. End of TIA-related programs in FY 2004 due to congressional decree, a move that cost universities "a consistent $11-12 million per year" in research funding;
    4. Research into intelligent software had matured beyond the research stage into integration;
    5. Classified funding for computer science-related programs increased markedly between FY 2001 and FY 2004, but Universities received none of this funding.

    Essentially, they conceded that their focus in IT R&D is increasingly short-term (at least in the unclassified realm) and that universities are no longer significant performers of DARPA IT R&D (classified or unclassified). Not surprisingly, these are the two major concerns CRA has repeatedly cited about the agency.

    Anyway, the article is a must read.

    Update: (4/3/2005) - Noah Shactman at Defense Tech has a bit more: Darpa may be investing more in super-secret computer science research. But overall, the agency's proposed classified budget has shrunk by over a third, a Congressional source tells Defense Tech.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 10:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | Policy | R&D in the Press

    March 28, 2005

    Budget Cuts Mean Layoffs for Supercomputing Staff at NASA

    Federal Computer Week has a depressing article today on the impact of recent and planned cuts to NASA's IT programs. The agency's IT R&D programs are due to decline $66 million in FY 2005, with a further cut of $89 million requested in the President's FY 2006 budget -- a figure that would represent a total cut of 60 percent since FY 2004. The Administration says that NASA's investments in IT R&D in FY 2006 will be reduced across the board, largely due to redirected funding to the President's Moon/Mars initiative and the Space Shuttle Return to Flight program -- the same reason given for the FY 2005 cuts that are putting pressure on agency supercomputing efforts now.

    FCW says the cuts in FY 05 will result in 15 to 20 layoffs of NASA Ames' supercomputing staff and 20 to 25 layoffs in its robotics staff (currently at 70 and 100, respectively). Buyout packages are being offered.

    Chris Knight, vice president for negotiations at Ames Federal Employees Union and a Computational Sciences Division employee, said the buyouts apply to all IT workers except three in visualization and robotics. But the amounts will not be enough to convince most people to leave, he said.

    “A lot of the research centers are being basically bled dry,” Knight said.

    Read the whole article.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 08:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | People | Policy | R&D in the Press

    March 25, 2005

    Concerns about the Status of the Federal Effort in IT R&D

    For the last several years, CRA has provided an analysis of computing research in the Administration's budget request for AAAS' annual look at R&D in the President's Budget Request. The book containing the CRA analysis won't be available until April, but I thought I'd post some of the core of that effort here. After the jump (the "Continue Reading..." link below) you'll find CRA's look at the current policy environment -- why we're concerned about the significantly changed landscape for federal IT R&D funding, including an examination of DARPA's diminished role and NSF's enhanced one. When the book is released, I'll post a link to it as well. CRA's chapter is just one of 26 or so focused on just about every aspect of the overall R&D portfolio.

    Current Policy Environment

    The landscape for computing research funding has changed significantly since PITAC began its review of the federal IT R&D effort in 1997. Since the early 1960s, the two federal agencies arguably most responsible for supporting computing research, the development of computer science as a discipline and much of the innovation that has resulted are NSF and DARPA. At the time PITAC began its review, both agencies bore an about equal share of the overall federal investment in IT R&D. In FY 1998, DARPA funding constituted 30 percent of federal IT R&D spending, compared to NSF's 27 percent share. However, as the overall investment has increased, DARPA's share of the research -- both as a percentage of the overall effort and in absolute dollars -- has declined. While NSF's $795 million investment in IT R&D in FY 2005 represents 35 percent of overall federal IT R&D (an increase in its total share since FY 1998), DARPA's $143 million in FY 2005 represents just 6 percent of the overall IT R&D budget, a significant decrease in its share since FY 1998.

    There are concerns within the computing research community about the reasons for DARPA's diminished role in supporting computing research and the impact that it will have on the discipline, DARPA's mission, and the nation as a whole. Central to these concerns is the idea that the discipline -- and hence, the nation -- benefited greatly by having the two different approaches to funding computing research represented by the NSF model and the DARPA model. While NSF has primarily focused on support for individual investigators at a wide range of institutions -- and support for computing infrastructure at America's universities -- DARPA's approach has varied over the years. DARPA has had a number of "freedoms" that other funding agencies like NSF have not. Historically, DARPA program managers could fund individual researchers, or even "centers of excellence" -- typically university research departments -- without the requirement for equitable distributions of funding based on geography or any other factor beyond scientific capability. DARPA's requirement for competitive selection did not involve peer-review in the same way that competitive grants at NSF were evaluated. DARPA program managers had great flexibility in funding projects they believed to be promising. In this way, DARPA was able to create and nourish communities of researchers to focus on problems of particular interest to the agency and to the Department of Defense, with great success.

    The combination of the two different approaches has proven enormously beneficial to the nation, the community argues, and to DARPA's overall mission of assuring that the U.S. maintains "a lead in applying state-of-the-art technology for military capabilities and [preventing] technological surprise from her adversaries." DARPA-supported research in computing over a period of over four decades, beginning in the 1960s, has laid down the foundations for the modern microprocessor, the internet, the graphical user interface, single-user workstations, and a whole host of other innovations that have not only made the U.S. military the lethal and effective fighting force it is today, but have driven the new economy and enabled a whole range of new scientific disciplines.

    However, the computing research community argues that through a series of policy changes, including the use of "go/no-go" decisions applied to critical research at 12 to 18 month intervals and the increasing classification of research sponsored by the agency, DARPA has shifted much of its focus in IT R&D from pushing the leading edge of computing research to "bridging the gap" between basic research and deployable technologies -- in essence relying on NSF to fund the basic research needed to advance the field.

    These changes at DARPA, the community argues, have discouraged university participation in research, effectively reducing DARPA "mindshare" -- the percentage of people working on DARPA problems -- at the nation's universities. This fact, combined with an overall growth in the number of researchers in the field and an increase in the breadth of the discipline, has placed a significant burden for funding basic IT R&D on NSF. The agency reports that in FY 2004, NSF supported 86 percent of federal obligations for basic research in computer science at academic institutions -- and the agency's Computing and Information Science and Engineering directorate (CISE) is beginning to show the strain. In FY 2004, the funding rate for competitive awards in CISE fell to a decadal low of 16 percent, lowest of any directorate at NSF and well below the NSF average of 25 percent. Programs in critical areas like information security and assurance are enduring even lower success rates -- NSF's CyberTrust program reported an 8.2 percent success rate for FY 2004. Such low success rates, the community argues, are harmful to the discipline and to the nation as a whole.

    PITAC began to explore these issues in 2004 as a result of its work on its report on the current state of the federal investment in cyber security R&D, Cyber Security: A Crisis in Prioritization, due for release in early 2005. [Ed. Note -- the report is out (pdf)] The committee found that DARPA's cyber security efforts were too short--term focused and that its increasing use of classification was limiting the participation of university researchers and likely limiting the benefits of the research. The committee also recommended that the Federal budget for fundamental research in civilian cyber security must be dramatically increased or the Nation's security and technological edge will be seriously jeopardized. As a first step, the committee agreed to recommend an immediate increase of $90 million per year to NSF's Cyber Trust program.

    Because the cyber security report exposed the PITAC members to concerns about how the changed landscape of funding for computing research has impacted cyber security R&D, it also suggested that the problems likely go beyond cyber security R&D and extend to the overall IT R&D effort. As a result, it is likely that the committee will push forward with some effort to review the overall federal IT R&D program in the coming year. How that effort will move forward is unclear, and there is additional uncertainty whether the committee will be re-appointed when its current charter expires on June 1, 2005.

    The committee could get further impetus to undertake an overall review of federal IT R&D from legislation introduced in January 2005, by Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), Rep. Lincoln Davis (R-TN), and House Science Committee Chair Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY). The High-Performance Computing Revitalization Act of 2005, H.R. 28, would require PITAC to review NITRD every two years and report to Congress, in addition to helping assure researchers have access to high-performance computer systems and assuring "balanced progress" in high-performance computing research. The bill is identical to H.R. 4218, introduced by the same Members in the 108th Congress, which passed the House but failed to get consideration in the Senate. Previous efforts to reauthorize NITRD programs in the 106th and 107th Congress also failed to gain the approval of both chambers. Prospects for passage this year are better, given the early start and the uncontroversial nature of the legislation.

    In addition to efforts to revitalize high-performance computing, Congress is likely to take interest in cyber security, though congressional reorganization has made the question of who will take the lead in coordinating cyber security policy difficult to answer. For now, the fact that four House committees share jurisdiction over the issue -- Energy and Commerce, Government Reform, Science, and Homeland Security -- likely means that prospects for any overarching legislation are slim. However, the release of the PITAC cyber security report will probably generate action in Congress and may lead to oversight hearings for the key agencies involved (NSF, DARPA and DHS).

    Budget Request

    Seven agencies included requests for FY 2006 funding as part of the NITRD activity. Under the President's plan, NSF, as the recipient of the largest amount of NITRD funds, would once again be designated as the lead agency for the initiative, with NSF Computing and Information Systems and Engineering (CISE) directorate head Dr. Peter Freeman serving as the head of the NITRD Interagency Working Group. For FY 2006, the President has requested $2.2 billion for the NITRD initiative, a decrease of 4.5 percent over the FY 2005 enacted level (see table I-10). Under the President's plan, NSF, Commerce, Defense, and EPA would see small to moderate increases in FY 2006, while Energy, HHS and NASA would see cuts of 7.8, 3.4 and 54.6 percent respectively.

    National Science Foundation: NSF has requested $803 million in NITRD-related funding, an increase of $8.0 million over the FY 2005 request, or 1.0 percent. The bulk of IT-related funding in the NSF request is contained within the request for the CISE directorate, which would grow 1.1 percent over FY 2005 to $621 million. CISE program funding is detailed in table II-7. The Foundation's Information Technology Research (ITR) activity ended in FY 2004, so funding included in the ITR line reflects commitments to multi-year grants awarded prior to FY 2004. As with last year, NSF continues to invest the funding "freed up" from the ITR activity as grants end back into the "core" research activities of the directorate.

    CISE has also adopted a number of strategies to cope with the low success rate the directorate is currently experiencing (detailed above) due to the significant increase in proposal pressure, an increase in annual award amounts, and budget growth that has not kept pace with demand. In some heavily subscribed programs, CISE plans to delay FY 2005 solicitation deadlines and use FY 2005 money to fund some meritorious FY 2004 solicitations it was unable to fund, and use expected FY 2006 money to fund some FY 2005 solicitations. In addition, CISE will limit the number of proposals that a researcher may submit to some competitions, while enforcing regulations that prohibit sending virtually identical proposals to multiple competitions simultaneously.

    NSF remains active in every aspect of the NITRD program component areas and continues in its role as the principal source of federal funding for university-based basic research in computer science, computer engineering, information science, networking and the computational science disciplines. NSF's request of $803 million is significantly larger than the next largest NITRD participant (HHS, $569 million).

    Department of Defense: The DOD request of $299 million for NITRD-related activities department-wide represents an increase of $21 million from the FY 2005 level. DARPA constitutes the largest share of NITRD-related defense funding at $176 million in the President's request, an increase of $28 million over FY 2005, with the bulk of that effort taking place within the Information Processing Technology Office (IPTO). DARPA efforts in High End Computing would increase by $17 million (to $81 million) to support the High Productivity Computing Systems program, consistent with the recommendations of the Administration's High End Computing Revitalization Task Force released last year. Human-Computer Interaction and Information Management would see a $13 million increase (to $74 million) for research aimed at improving information access and analysis for warfighters.

    The DOD request also includes $22 million for research in High Confidence Software and Systems and Software Design and Productivity supported by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the same level as in FY 2005. The National Security Agency, also a part of the DOD request, would see its budget drop by $12 million in FY 2006 to $101 million, as it winds down the developmental support for its Black Widow computer system.

    Health and Human Services (HHS): NIH constitutes the bulk of funding in IT R&D at HHS. For FY 2006, the President's plan includes $569 million in IT R&D funding at HHS, a decrease of 3.4 percent, or $20 million less than the FY 2005 level. The bulk of this reduction is due to the completion of testbed projects exploring medical applications of advanced networks.

    Within HHS, NIH participates in NITRD by supporting research that advances its mission of developing the basic knowledge for the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of human disease. IT research in this area includes applying the power of computing to manage and analyze biomedical data and to model biological processes. AHRQ focuses on research into state-of-the-art IT for use in health care applications such as computer-based patient records, clinical decision support systems, and standards for patient care data.

    Department of Energy: IT R&D activities in DOE's Office of Science and NNSA constitute DOE's participation in NITRD. The Office of Science focuses on computational and networking tools that enable researchers to model, simulate, analyze, and predict complex physical, chemical and biological phenomena important to the department's overall mission. NNSA supports research developing new means of assessing the performance, safety, and reliability of nuclear weapons systems through high-fidelity computer models and simulations. Under the President's plan DOE NITRD funding would be $341 million for FY 2006, a decrease of 7.8 percent, or $29 million, from the FY 2005 level. According to the request, this reduction reflects the completion of the initial leadership-class computer system acquisition, and consolidation of efforts in networking research and collaboratory tools into an integrated "Distributed Network Environment" focusing on basic research in computer networking and middleware.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration: Under the President's plan, NASA would see the largest reduction in NITRD funding both on a percentage and an absolute-dollar basis. The President's request includes $74 million for NASA IT R&D in FY 2005, a reduction of $89 million from the FY 2005 level, representing a 54.6 percent decrease. Though NASA will continue operating its 52-teraflop Columbia computer acquired in 2004-2005, funding in all aspects of NASA's IT R&D efforts will be reduced and redirected to support NASA's Vision for Space Exploration and mission needs for returning the Space Shuttle to flight.

    Department of Commerce (DOC): The DOC request for FY 2006 contains NITRD-related funding requests from two agencies: NOAA and NIST. NIST IT R&D efforts include working with industry, educational, and government organizations to make IT systems more useable, secure, scalable, and interoperable. In addition, NIST works to apply IT to specialized areas like biotechnology and manufacturing, and to encourage industry to accelerate development of IT innovations. The President's request includes $42 million for NIST in FY 2006, an increase of $3 million over FY 2005.

    NOAA supports IT research in emerging computer technologies for improved climate modeling and weather forecasting, and for improved communications technologies to disseminate weather products and warnings to emergency responders, policymakers, and the general public. The President's request includes $20 million for NOAA in FY 2006, a $1 million increase over FY 2005.

    Environmental Protection Agency: The EPA would receive $6 million in FY 2006 under the President's plan, an increase of $2 million over FY 2005. EPA intends to use that funding to support IT technologies that facilitate ecosystem modeling, risk assessment, and environmental decision making at the federal, state, and local levels.

    Department of Homeland Security: Because the Department of Homeland Security, established in 2003, was created well after the original passage of the legislation creating the current NITRD structure (the High Performance Computing and Communications Act of 1991), the agency is not officially a member of the NITRD Interagency Working Group. However, the agency has requested $17 million in FY 2006 for cyber security research and development, out of a total Science and Technology directorate budget request of $1.3 billion (see table II-20), a decrease of $1 million dollars compared to FY 2005. In the forthcoming PITAC report on cyber security R&D, the committee is expected to take DHS to task for its inadequate support of long-term cyber security research, given that IT systems constitute the control loop of so much of the nation's critical infrastructure. The report will note that of the $18 million DHS expects to spend in FY 2005 on cyber security R&D, only $1.5 million of that research can truly be described as long-term.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 10:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
    Posted to CRA | Funding | Policy

    March 17, 2005

    Even Tom Friedman weighs in on NSF

    In a column focusing on China, Tom Friedman notes that cutting NSF will leave us without the kind of workforce the U.S. will need to compete:

    Finally, on competition policy, the Bush team and Congress cut the budget of the National Science Foundation for this fiscal year by $105 million. I could not put it better than Congressman Vern Ehlers, one of the few dissenting Republicans, who said: "This decision shows dangerous disregard for our nation's future ... at a time when other nations continue to surpass our students in math and science and consistently increase their funding of basic research. We cannot hope to fight jobs lost to international competition without a well-trained and educated work force."

    Posted by AndyBernat at 11:45 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    March 12, 2005

    President's Science Advisor Gets Frosty Reception From Approps Committee

    In his first appearance before the newly constituted Science, State, Justice, and Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee, John Marburger, the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, found himself "rebuked" for "arrogant" and "inappropriate" testimony by the members of the Subcommittee, according to National Journal's Tech Daily (sub. req'd). Marburger apparently had the temerity to highlight an "earmark" from lawmakers creating a science program in his opening statement, prompting subcommittee chair Frank Wolf (R-VA) to interrupt him.

    Wolf accused Marburger of insinuating that "if it's an earmark from the Congress, then it's automatically wrong."

    "I think there is a degree of arrogance in your answer," said Wolf, who chairs the House Science, State, Justice and Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee. "I think it's inappropriate."

    Wolf, who was criticized in his re-election campaign last year for supporting earmarked projects in his district, rattled off a list of congressional mandates for science programs and grilled Marburger about whether he believes they were a waste of taxpayer dollars.

    Marburger answered that certain earmarks, typically characterized by critics as pork-barrel spending, are "not as bad as others" and then quickly added that "some are better than others."

    Both answers had Wolf and other members on the panel visibly irritated. Several lawmakers lectured Marburger about their constitutional obligation to control the government's purse strings and create government programs.

    While I probably side with Marburger over the issue of earmarks -- they've increased in number every year and often compete with peer-reviewed, merit-based funding in the budget -- I have to side with the committee when they raise concerns over U.S. competitiveness being at risk because of a failure to invest in fundamental research, as they also did in yesterday's hearing.
    Marburger also told the panel that he does not agree with recent reports that the United States is losing its competitive edge in science and technology.

    "I think you are in the minority in regard to our competitiveness," said Wolf, who had announced earlier in the hearing that he would introduce legislation to forgive the interest on student loans for individuals who major in math and science.

    Wolf also said he is worried that the Bush administration's budget request has "zeroed out" some science programs because he argued that the United States is "falling behind" other countries.

    At a separate event on Friday, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., echoed Wolf's sentiments. "This country is sadly slipping behind in its cadre" of scientists and mathematicians, Warner said.

    The senator added that he would like to allocate funding from the $13 billion Pell Grant program for math and science education, and give students who major in cyber security a free education in return for public service in the government to combat cyber attacks.

    So in the first science-related hearing of the new subcommittee there's reason for both optimism and concern. Clearly the leaders of the subcommittee have embraced the idea that support for fundamental research and math and science programs will help the U.S. retain its competitive advantage in the global economy. However, they've also vigorously defended earmarking the science budget. Wolf, the new committee chair, is sort of a blank slate for the science community, so we need to take the opportunity to make him comfortable with the case for basic research. Expect to see more in the coming weeks....

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 09:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    March 11, 2005

    Are We Taking NSF for Granted, Part II

    Following up on a previous post about European efforts to create a National Science Foundation-like agency of their own because of the recognition of that value of the NSF to U.S. competitiveness -- and juxtaposing that with our own government's apparent waning support for fundamental research -- I thought I'd just note this article from Science that indicates India has reached a similar conclusion to the EU's and is hoping to establish an NSF-like agency of its own.

    Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has endorsed the creation of an independent agency to support basic research--with a proposed budget that's more than three times the amount the government is now spending.

    Scientists have long complained about the current process for winning grants, including inflexible rules and funding decisions that take more than a year. Last week Singh attended the first meeting of the new Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister and embraced its recommendation for a National Science and Engineering Research Foundation with a mandate to "strongly promote and fund research in all fields of science and engineering." The new foundation "is being patterned on the lines of the acclaimed U.S. National Science Foundation," says C. N. R. Rao, chair of the council, who has campaigned for more than a decade for such a freestanding body. "A foundation that manages its own accounts and is run by a scientist is the only hope for reversing the rapid decline in Indian science," he adds.

    The whole article is here (sub. may be req'd).

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 11:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    February 18, 2005

    New NSF Liability?

    NSF is facing a tough budget year (as we've noted). They're requesting a slight increase in funding -- about 2.4 percent for FY 2006 -- but it turns out most of the increase will go to fund the operation of some former Coast Guard icebreakers, as well as hiring some long-awaited new staff. Now news comes that a NSF-owned ship, the research vessel Maurice Ewing, apparently ran aground off the coast of Mexico this week and damaged a coral reef. The Mexican government is talking about "substantial fines" to NSF as a result of the accident and are threatening to seize the ship to ensure the fines are paid.

    The story is only just starting to play out, but it bears some watching. Because the amount of increase planned for the agency budget is so small, a fine need not be terribly substantial to result in cuts to existing research budgets. And it wouldn't be the first time NSF's legal issues threatened to impact the Foundation's research budget....

    Anyway, keep it here for details....

    Update: It's been suggested that because this is an international incident, perhaps the State Department will take care of it. That sounds plausible to me. But I'd love to hear from anyone with more detailed information. harsha [a t] cra . org.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 02:25 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    February 10, 2005

    DeLay Gets His Appropriations Reorganization -- Much of it, anyway

    Proving once again that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) is the most powerful man in Congress, Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) announced yesterday a "bold reorganization" (to quote his press release) of his panel, a plan that mirrors much of a proposal DeLay originally proposed late last year. The reorganization will dissolve three appropriations subcommittees, including VA-HUD-Independent Agencies subcommittee -- home to NASA and NSF -- and is designed to "streamline and expedite" an appropriations process that has failed to finish up on time every year in recent memory.

    Lewis plans to eliminate VA-HUD and spread its jurisdiction across several committees. Maybe most importantly to computing researchers, the reorganization would result in NASA and NSF moving to what was the Commerce, State, Justice subcommittee, but will now be called the Science, State, Justice and Commerce subcommittee.

    While this isn't quite as far-ranging as the DeLay proposal originally floated in December (which we analyzed a bit here), it still accomplishes one of DeLay's primary goals: namely, to get NASA out from under the shadow of the Veterans' Administration and Housing and Urban Development. And in that sense, I think it's a net positive for NSF and NASA. They get moved to a subcommittee in which they'll enjoy a bit more prominence, and no longer have to compete with two relative behemoths (VA and HUD) for funding.

    This is also a gain, I think, over the original Lewis proposal, which we told you about a few weeks ago. That plan would've seen NSF and NASA join DOE Science in the Energy and Water subcommittee, which raised concerns about the effect of NSF sharing a subcommittee likely to be staffed by members of Congress with DOE Labs in their districts. Would NSF, which has not been terribly affected by earmarks historically, then be in direct competition for funding with DOE in a subcommittee amenable to earmarking projects at DOE labs?

    In any case, it looks as if the new organization plan avoids that potential pitfall by separating NSF and DOE. Of course, NSF will still have to contend with NASA -- focus of much special attention by the House Majority Leader -- and now adds NOAA, home to quite a few earmarks of its own. But, well, no plan is perfect....

    The Senate appears to be close to adopting the House plan, according to Congressional Quarterly (sub. req'd). Failing to do so would mean absolute chaos come appropriations time -- as opposed to the moderate chaos already experienced during conference season. Adopting the change in the Senate would mean that long-time NSF champion Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) would lose his VA-HUD chairmanship and instead likely take over the new Transportation, Treasury, Judiciary and Housing subcommittee. That move would bump Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) to the Science, State, Justice and Commerce subcommittee.

    On the House side, the new Science, State, Justice, and Commerce subcommittee will be chaired by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA). Former VA-HUD Chair Rep. James Walsh would take over the new Military Quality of Life and Veterans' Affairs subcommittee.

    For the full shakeout, see Lewis' press release. We'll continue to monitor the reorganization and post the details as we get them.

    Update: Roll Call reports (sub. req'd) that the Senate Republicans have rejected adoption of the House plan and want Appropriations Chair Thad Cochran (R-MS) to "negotiate further changes with his House counterpart."

    Cochran said no decisions have been made, according to Roll Call.

    I have learned not to bet against DeLay, however....

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 04:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    February 09, 2005

    President's Budget: NIST

    Cameron Wilson, USACM's new Director of Public Policy puts his experience as a former Hill staffer to good use in analyzing how the National Institute of Standards and Technology fares in the President's FY 2006 Budget Request. Read his excellent post on USACM's Technology Policy Weblog.

    Short story: NIST IT R&D funding at NIST Labs did see a slight bump in the request, but the President's elimination of NIST's Advanced Technology Program and a 50 percent cut to the Manufacturing Extension Partnership -- both programs with considerable support in Congress -- once again puts funding at NIST Labs at risk in the appropriations process.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 01:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    February 07, 2005

    President's Budget: National Science Foundation

    The N.Y. Times was right...for FY 2006, the National Science Foundation is requesting a budget of $5.6 billion, an increase of 2.4 percent or $132 million over FY 2005. While an improvement over the 2 percent cut imposed in FY 05 by congressional appropriators, and certainly better than the rumored 5 percent cut initially approved by the White House for FY 06, the rate of growth proposed by the Administration would still fall below the rate of inflation.

    Here's the breakdown for the major NSF accounts:

    NSF FY 2006 Budget by Account
    (in millions)
    Appropriations Account
    FY 2006 Request
    $ Change
    FY 05 plan v. FY 06 request
    % Change
    FY 05 plan v. FY 06 request
    Research and Related Activities $4,333 $113 2.7%
    Education and Human Resources $737 -$104 -12.4%
    Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction $250 $76 43.9%
    Salaries and Expenses $269 $46 20.5%
    National Science Board $4 $0.03 0.8%
    Inspector General $11.5 $1.5 14.7%
    Total $5,605 $132 2.4%

    Some details from Bement's presentation today:

  • "The Education and Human Resources account decreases for a second year. In that area, we are leveraging our resources by focusing investments on successful programs and developing closer links with research programs. ... Ideally, all of NSF's budget areas would remain robust so that we can maximize the nation's return on investment. In a difficult budget climate, however, we do our best to exercise fiscal responsibility by singling out priorities."
  • Four priorities for NSF are: Strengthening core research, continuing to provide tools and infrastructure, broadening participation, and continuing to sharpen NSF's management.
  • The "not-so-good" news: "The number of proposals received by NSF has been increasing every year. As a result, the proportion of proposals the agency is able to fund has dropped dramatically -- from 30 percent in the late 1990s, to around 20 percent that we expect this year." Goal is to maintain the recent gains made in increasing award size and duration, while halting the erosion in the funding rate.
  • Cyberinfrastructure investments across the foundation total $509 million (about $120 million in CISE).
  • No new starts in MREFC account. Increase in the account "covers our commitment to large ongoing projects."

    Here are the directorate-by-directorate breakdowns. If you focus only on the final columns -- $ Change and % Change over FY 05 -- it might appear that CISE has been de-emphasized among the directorates. This would run counter to Bement's stated goal of ramping up CISE funding quickly to provide some immediate relief to the proposal pressure the directorate currently faces -- its 16% success rate is the lowest among the directorates in the Foundation.

    However, as CISE AD Peter Freeman pointed out after the briefing today, Bement was able to prioritize funding for CISE for FY 2005, [provided the appropriators approve of Bement's FY 05 plan] even though the final FY 05 appropriations included a 2% cut overall for NSF. So, you'll note that CISE does reasonably well, relatively speaking, when compared to the other directorates, lagging only Polar Programs (not included in the chart) -- which was transferred 3 icebreakers and $45 million from the US Coast Guard -- in total dollar increase since FY 2004.

    Nevertheless, even with the increases in FY 05 and in the President's request for FY 06, CISE's rate of growth, along with that of the rest of the Foundation, still lags inflation.

    Anyway, here's the table:

    National Science Foundation
    FY 2006 Congressional Request
    (in millions)
    NSF Account FY 2004 Actual FY 2005 Current Plan FY 2006 Request $ Change
    FY 04 Actual v. FY 06 Request
    % Change
    FY 04 Actual v. FY 06 Request
    $ Change
    FY 05 Plan v. FY 06
    % Change
    FY 05 Plan v. FY 06
    BIO $587 $577 $582 -$5.26 -0.9% $5.18 0.9%
    CISE $605 $614 $621 $15 2.5% $6.84 1.1%
    ENG* $566 $562 $580 $14 2.5% $18 3.2%
    GEO $713 $694 $709 -$4.31 -0.9% $15 2.2%
    MPS $1,092 $1,069 $1,086 -$5.36 -0.5% $16 1.5%
    SBE $184 $197 $199 $14.5 7.9% $1.9 1.0%

    The full set of NSF budget charts are on the web.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 11:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding
  • President's Budget is Out: Here are the First Numbers

    The budget is out and the numbers, as promised, don't look very good. Here's the breakdown for the Networking and Information Technology R&D program -- the federal budget crosscut for all agencies involved in funding IT R&D:

    Networking and Information Technology R&D
    (budget authority in millions)
    $ Change
    FY05 v FY06
    % Change
    FY05 v FY06
    National Science Foundation$773$795$803$81%
    HHS (primarily NIH)$542$573$569-$20-3.4%

    There are some caveats to this table. The first is that the President's budget submission indicates that DOD will "reassess which of its IT R&D programs are appropriate to count as part of the NITRD program, and any changes will be reported in subsequent NITRD publications."

    The second is that the baseline budgets (FY 2004 actual and FY 05 estimated) of just about every agency have increased significantly since last year's budget submission. You can see that by comparing this year's "Trends in IT R&D" chart with last year's chart. The change in baseline makes it a little trickier to put the cuts in context. It also makes NIH look like a much more significant supporter of IT R&D than previously reported...

    I'll have much more parsing of the numbers a little later today. For now, I'm off to NSF for their budget briefing. I'm not terribly optimistic.

    Update: (3/28/05) -- Table now reflects the latest revised numbers (pdf) from the NITRD National Coordinating Office. The NITRD cut is now "only" 4.5 versus FY 2005.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 02:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    February 05, 2005

    President to Request Slight Increase for NSF, says NY Times

    The New York Times reports today that the President will include a request for a slight increase to the National Science Foundation when he delivers his budget plan to Congress on Monday. The Times, which had reported that NSF's budget would be flat -- an improvement over an initial OMB passback that called for a 5 percent cut for the agency -- reports that the President will request $5.6 billion for NSF in FY 06, an increase of 2.4 percent over FY 05.

    The increase, though small, would appear to make up the ground lost by the agency after Congress elected to cut funding by 2 percent in FY 05. However, coupled with the rate of inflation, the small increase is actually closer to flat-funding the agency, or even a slight real-dollar decrease.

    Still, any increase in a budget which is otherwise rumored to be quite austere is symbolic, indicating areas where the Administration places priority. The Times also reports that the National Institutes of Health, which saw its budget double over the last six years, will receive only a 0.7 percent increase in the President's request.

    The President's budget is only the first step in the annual budget cycle. Once the President reveals his plan on Monday, the ball shifts to Congress' court. Congressional and Presidential priorities don't always line up -- as NSF experienced last year. The President requested a 3 percent increase for the agency in his FY 05 request, only to see Congress instead cut the agency by 2 percent in the final omnibus appropriation.

    No details yet on directorate by directorate numbers, but we'll only have to wait until Monday afternoon. Keep it here for all the details as they emerge.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 10:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    January 17, 2005

    President Will Target "Scientific Research" in New Budget, Wash Times Says

    Facing heat on the right for excessive spending, President Bush has apparently indicated he will provide a "very tough" spending blueprint to Congress for FY 2006. In a commentary posted today, the Washington Times quotes members of the Administration saying the President will exert "very, very strong discipline" on next year's spending.

    "That discipline will be there big time," [White House Chief of Staff Andrew] Card told business leaders."
    The Times is pretty specific in predicting the cuts:
    Among the budget-cutting targets: the bloated Agriculture Department, corporate welfare, scientific research, housing, state and local giveaway grants, and other low-priority and no-priority programs that will be slashed or eliminated altogether.


    The National Science Foundation's social research grants, long criticized as wasteful, will be cut and NSF's overall spending is expected to be flatlined. So will the National Institutes of Health, which has seen its budget skyrocket over the past decade, especially in the past four years.

    [emphasis added]

    This is very disturbing news, not just because of the cuts it portends, but because the attitude on display in the article is a far cry from the very supportive language we've seen this Administration use in reference to the National Science Foundation and the rest of the federal basic research effort. My hope is that the article is more reflective of the Heritage Foundation position on the budget than the President's, but we'll know for sure on February 7th.

    In the meantime, let's reflect on the President's feelings about the federal role in R&D as they were expressed in last year's budget request. Surely the situation hasn't changed so much in the intervening 12 months that he no longer believes this, has it?

    The eminent 19th Century American scientist Joseph Henry once asserted, "Modern civilization depends on science." This still holds true. Indeed, investments in science and technology have resulted in much of the unparalleled economic growth in the United States over the last 50 years, as well as the standard of living and quality of life we now enjoy. Advances have been possible only with the support of both public and private investment in research and development (R&D).

    And we continue to invest. The R&D investments of the United States are unmatched. However, unlike 40 years ago, when Federal R&D expenditures doubled those of the private sector, industry R&D spending now exceeds that of the Federal Government. Still, by a wide margin, the U.S. Government continues to lead the world in R&D spending.

    Investments in technological advancement are vital to strengthening our capabilities to combat terrorism and defend our country. The President’s 2005 Budget continues to focus R&D on winning the war against terrorism, while moderating the growth in overall spending. But the benefits of innovation and discovery are not limited to national security. They are just as critical to economic security. The Administration, recognizing that fundamental research is the fuel for future innovation and technology development, has maintained the highest levels of support for priority R&D areas such as nanotechnology, information technology, hydrogen energy, and space exploration. The non-defense R&D share of the discretionary budget is at a near record high over the last 30 years.

    -Analytical Perspectives, Budget of the United States of America, FY 2005 (p. 47) - (pdf)


    Posted by PeterHarsha at 03:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    January 09, 2005

    President to Propose Flat-funding for NSF, Increase for NIH, NY Times Reports

    The New York Times appears to have some detail about what the President will propose as part of his FY 2006 Budget Request for the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. It doesn't look good.

    For the current fiscal year, Congress cut the budget of the National Science Foundation by about 2 percent, to $5.47 billion, and the White House Office of Management and Budget initially proposed a further cut of about 5 percent for 2006. But the agency appealed, with support from allies like Senator Christopher S. Bond, Republican of Missouri, and the White House decided to propose a flat budget, instead of cuts.

    The White House budget office initially sought a small cut at the National Institutes of Health, which received an appropriation of $28.4 billion for the current fiscal year. But after an appeal by Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, the White House agreed to propose a small increase, less than 2 percent, which would not be enough to keep pace with the rising costs of biomedical research.


    Mr. Bush will try again to end the Advanced Technology Program in the Commerce Department, which is spending $142 million this year to speed development of high-risk technologies in medicine, manufacturing, engineering, computer science and other fields. President Bill Clinton liked the program, but the conservative Heritage Foundation calls it "corporate welfare at its worst."

    The President will start the annual budget cycle on February 7, 2005, with the release of his budget request. It will then be up to Congress to come up with it's own version in March or April, then begin the process of passing appropriations bills, ideally before the start of the 2006 fiscal year on October 1, 2005 (an ideal it rarely achieves). Appropriations staffers have already made it clear that they don't expect to be able to provide much help in getting increases for agencies beyond the President's request, so the FY 06 cycle looks to be another tough one for the science agencies.

    Along with the rest of the scientific community, CRA has already been active in the FY 06 budget process, making a direct appeal to White House Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua Bolten for sufficient funding for computing research in the President's budget request. In that appeal, we noted the particular pressure faced by NSF's Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) directorate as a result of the latest funding cuts and the changing funding landscape for university-led computing research -- particularly changes at DARPA* that have discouraged university researcher participation in DOD programs.

    In part because of that change in support at DARPA, NSF now bears a disproportionate share of the load for funding fundamental IT R&D in universities (about 85%), a fact which has helped contribute to discouragingly low success rates in CISE. In fact, since 1994, while the CISE budget has doubled, the number of proposals submitted to CISE has tripled, and the funding rate has fallen from 36 percent to 16 percent -- the lowest of any directorate in the Foundation. In some critical programs like CyberTrust, the award rate is even lower: 8.2 percent. Award rates this low are not only harmful to the vitality of computing community, they are harmful to the nation. As we noted in our appeal, "NSF research funding not only leads to multi-billion dollar industry segments, it also produces the PhDs that industry needs – and wants more of – for advanced product development and research. This is vital to continuing economic recovery and growth."

    If you haven't yet joined CRA's Computing Research Advocacy Network, now would be a good time. As we move through the budget process, we'll have a number of opportunities to make the case for computing research and could use your help. In the meantime, keep an eye on this space for further developments.

    * CRA has been concerned for some time over what we see is a shift at DARPA from a focus on long-term research to shorter-term research. Tony Tether, since taking over as head of the agency in 2001, has been plain in his desire to reshape DARPA in the model of a high-tech venture capital firm - identifying promising technologies early and providing them with the capital needed to turn them into demonstrable technologies on short-timelines. Key to this identification process is DARPA's implementation of a formal "go/no-go" decision matrix for all DARPA funded research projects. In addition to facing a traditional annual review, in which DARPA managers verify that contract work is proceeding according to plan and on-budget, DARPA contract recipients now face multiple review milestones at relatively short 12 to 18 month intervals, by which their projects must deliver some demonstrable result in order to receive continued funding.

    To some, DARPA's approach appears to represent a reasonably business-like approach to providing good stewardship over taxpayer dollars in the course of developing the technologies necessary for national security in the post-September 11th world. However, for university researchers accustomed to working on basic research problems, the idea of "scheduling" breakthroughs or demonstrable results on 12 month timelines is anathema to the basic research enterprise and nearly impossible to do in an academic environment. CRA believes that DARPA's new funding regime has constrained university researchers from pursuing DARPA contracts, effectively preventing some of the best minds in the country from working on national security problems. The "go/no-go" decisions result in research that is evolutionary, not revolutionary, with potential grantees only proposing ideas they can be sure to deliver significant progress on in 12 months. Failing to consider long-term research could leave the nation once-again "flat-footed" to the new threats of the 21st Century.

    The other policy concern surrounding DARPA is the increased use of classification to limit the dissemination of its research, particularly its cyber security research underway. Tether has stated in a number of public forums - including at CRA's Computing Leadership Summit in February 2004 and the April 2004 meeting of PITAC - that the move towards increasing the amount of research under classification is justified given the Department of Defense's increasing reliance on "network-centric" operations for its warfighting capability. There are, of course, important reasons for classifying federal research, especially when it is clear that the research might reveal our capabilities or vulnerabilities. However, it should also be understood that there are real costs - including that the research is unavailable for public dissemination and scrutiny, and that many university researchers, arguably some of the best minds in the country, are no longer able to contribute to the work. In the case of DARPA's cyber security research, there is another significant cost to bear as well. The military (and the government overall) has a huge dependence on our nation's commercial infrastructure, but classifying the research in information security means that it is largely unavailable for use in protecting this commercial infrastructure.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 03:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    January 07, 2005

    Catching Up: Chait Dings Congress for Slashing NSF While Boosting Pork

    Thanks to Spaf and Dave Farber's Interesting-People list for the pointer to this column by The New Republic's Jonathan Chait taking Congress to task for approving a cut to the National Science Foundation while at the same time allowing more dubious pork-barrel spending to flourish. It's more than a little partisan, but still interesting. Here's a bit:

    The new evidence is that Congress voted last month to cut the budget for the National Science Foundation, or NSF, which supports basic scientific research. This means that next year the NSF will have about 1,000 fewer research grants. This comes at a time when scientific experts worry that the United States is losing its worldwide primacy in science and technology.

    Now, some of you righties may be saying to yourselves, "Great! We scaled back another big government program." But, remember, Republicans over at least the last decade have flaunted their support of science and technology. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich used to go on about dinosaur research and giving poor people laptop computers. Bush grandly promised a new mission to land humans on Mars in his last State of the Union address.

    And the GOP commitment to science, at least until recently, very much included the NSF. Two years ago, the Republican Congress voted to double the foundation's budget by 2007. At the time, Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard wrote that the White House considered the NSF to be one of the few "programs that work." Its grants go out on a competitive basis.

    Mitch Daniels, then Bush's budget director, told Barnes that the NSF "has supported eight of the 12 most recent Nobel Prize awards earned by Americans at some point in their careers."

    Still, you say, don't we face a huge deficit now? Indeed we do, but cutting support for scientific research is an incredibly mindless way to solve that problem. Deficits are bad because they represent a form of borrowing against the future. Every dollar we spend beyond our means today is one less dollar that we'll have to spend someday down the road. But scientific research is an investment in future prosperity. Cutting the NSF budget is like a family in debt pulling its children out of college but keeping its country club membership.

    Read the whole thing here.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 07:02 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    December 21, 2004

    Funding Freeze for FY 2006?

    The Wall Street Journal online edition has an interesting article on the federal budget deficit and the President's plan for overcoming it. Included is some info about the impact of appropriation cuts on the National Science Foundation and a good primer on the challenge facing the President and Congress in looking for other places to cut. But the one nugget that caught my eye was this:

    For fiscal 2005, the growth in [non-defense] domestic spending was held to just 0.8%. At that rate, spending in this area will decline as a portion of the overall budget. Yet the president aims to shrink this piece even further. In February, Mr. Bush will call for a spending freeze for fiscal 2006, according to people familiar with administration's deliberations. [emph. added]
    No additional detail in the article, but this would obviously be a very bad thing for an agency like NSF, which saw it's overall budget cut for FY 05. But it's hard to know whether this means the President is hoping to hold the discretionary spending number even overall (which would mean NSF could grow as long as some other agency shrinks), or just a flat freeze on FY 06 numbers (ie, FY 05 = FY 06). In either case, this is yet another sign that FY 06 promises to be a very difficult one for science funding.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 12:28 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    December 13, 2004

    Could An Appropriations Reorganization Help U.S. Science?

    As the FY 05 appropriations process demonstrated, the current organization of congressional appropriations subcommittees (and thus, appropriations bills) is a mess that puts science agencies at a disadvantage in the competition for federal dollars. The current structure is a mish-mash of jurisdictions that forces agencies that have little or nothing to do with each other to compete for the limited funds within each bill -- one bill pits the National Science Foundation and NASA against the Veteran's Administration and federal housing programs, for example, and in another, it's NIST and NOAA against the State Department. More often than not, in that competition the science agencies get the short end of the stick.

    But there's an interesting proposal floating around DC to recast the appropriations panels to make their jurisdictions more sensible. Normally, a proposal to realign something as significant as the 13 appropriations committees would be dead on arrival -- especially a proposal like this one, which would reduce the number of subcommittees, and therefore subcommittee chairmen (called "cardinals" in deference to their power), from 13 to 10. But this one is being floated by the most powerful man in the House (and probably Congress), House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX), and has the backing of the House GOP leadership.

    Delay's motive in proposing the reorganization is apparently to realign the committees to represent GOP and Democratic themes, according to CQ's (sub. req'd) Andrew Taylor. So, there'd be a "Regulatory Agencies" subcommittee that would include agencies like OSHA, another that would combine all of the funding for Congress, the White House, and the Judicial branch, and another for traditionally Democratic priorities like public housing. In the few news reports I've seen on the proposal, there hasn't been any mention of a subcommittee combining all the non-defense agencies for science. But a subcommittee comprised of the civilian science agencies seems like a logical part of any reorganization -- and indeed, the rumors circulating around town suggest it is.

    I haven't seen the proposal, but I think it would be reasonable to assume that a "Science" subcommittee would have to include appropriations for NIH, NSF, DOE Science, NASA, NIST, and NOAA -- basically all the major non-defense agencies involved in research. Obviously, a reorganization of that magnitude would change the dynamics of the appropriations process for science. I've been doing some thinking about whether it would be a positive or negative change. I'm coming to the conclusion that it would probably be positive overall...but I'm open to feedback from a different perspective. (Some of this may seem "inside baseball," but I think it's important.)

    I think the first change is that the annual 302(b) budget allocation -- the divvying up of the funds authorized by the annual Congressional Budget Resolution (CBR) into spending limits for each appropriations bill -- would become much more meaningful for the scientific community. In the current system, we advocate for science in the CBR, but it's a little disconnected from the 302(b) process. We advocate for the highest possible "Function 250" line -- the "General Science, Space and Technology" line in the CBR -- but that doesn't obviously translate into increased funding for any of the appropriations bills we care about because that function is an aggregate that gets split among a whole bunch of different appropriations bills. We could advocate for the highest possible 302(b) allocation for specific approps bills, like the VA-HUD-Independent Agencies appropriation, which includes NSF and NASA funding, but there's no guarantee that any of that increased funding will go towards the science agencies in that bill.

    With an Appropriations Subcommittee for Science there would be a corresponding 302(b) allocation for "Science." If we're looking to draw a bright line for science in the budget process, that's about as bright as it gets. There would be no doubt whether Congress was supportive of science in any particular year -- a look at the 302(b) allocation would tell you.

    Drafting the Science Appropriations Bill each year would also be an interesting exercise. With essentially all of the civilian research agencies represented under one subcommittee's jurisdiction, there would be few hurdles to overcome to address issues of balance in the federal research portfolio, for example. Federal gov't focused too heavily on the life sciences? The committee would have the authority to reprogram money from NIH to NSF or DOE Science. Too much applied research and not enough basic? Reprogram NIST ATP money to NSF. Can't do that under the current arrangement. There may also be efficiencies that result from having everything in one place. Coordinating research activities across research agencies may be easier when agencies can't hide behind the stovepipes of different appropriations committees.

    Of course, the appropriators could just as easily reverse the situation under this scenario -- reprogram NSF funds to NIST ATP to bolster applied research, NSF to NIH to bolster life sciences. But it seems to me that, in general, we'd be well-positioned in those debates. Under the current committee structure, those debates are essentially impossible.

    So, I think it'd be a net positive for us and for science generally. But I'm open to arguments in opposition.

    Assuming this reorganization is a good idea, the next question is what we in the science community can do to help it go forward. Politically, the odds are against reorganization, even with Delay and the House GOP Leadership strongly in favor. If it were up to the House alone, it would probably be a done deal. Delay has ensured himself significant political capital by delivering an increased majority to the GOP in the House via his almost single-handed redistricting push in Texas. In addition, there will be a new Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee in the 109th Congress, and the House leadership will play the primary role in deciding who that will be (it's looking like Ralph Regula (R-OH)), so they'll have considerable leverage in guaranteeing support for their proposal.

    The real hurdle is the Senate. As a practical matter, any reorganization of the House Approps Committee will have to be mirrored in the Senate Approps Committee -- otherwise, conferencing the various appropriations bills will be chaos. The Senate will also have a new Appropriations Chair, Thad Cochran (R-MS), who has expressed opposition to the proposal. (In particular, he doesn't like the idea that it would eliminate the Agriculture Subcommittee, which he chaired). The opposition might not be unanimous across the Senate -- CQ says the Senate leadership apparently isn't "dismissive" of the idea -- but it's a long shot. I think if the science community does decide to weigh in in support of the proposal, focusing our efforts on the Senate -- Cochran in particular -- would be the best approach.

    But even if the proposal doesn't have a great chance of going forward, I think it's beneficial for Congress to have the reorganization debate...especially if an element of that debate is the potential benefit to U.S. science a reorganization might bring.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 09:25 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | Policy

    December 07, 2004

    Rumors About First NIST FY 06 Numbers

    The first "passbacks" from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have apparently begun to leak and rumors are circulating that NIST is once again in for lean times. (Passbacks are OMB's response to each agency's budget request for the coming fiscal year -- they are OMB's verdict on what will and won't get included in the President's budget request to the Congress in February.)

    The Administration apparently supports an increase to NIST Labs, approving a passback budget request of $489 million for FY 06 for intramural research -- which would be $38 million more than the FY 05 enacted level -- but only about $7 million more than the President's FY 05 request. More problematically, the current rumor suggests OMB zeroed funding for two controversial (yet somewhat popular) NIST programs: the Advanced Technology Program (ATP), funded for FY 05 at $137 million; and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), funded for FY 05 at $108 million.

    Additionally, it sounds as if the administration has decided to eliminate the Commerce Department's Technology Administration and incorporate it's functions under NIST. The FY 05 final budget for TA was $7 million.

    If the numbers above are accurate, it would suggest that NIST Labs could once again be squeezed come appropriations time, as congressional appropriators scramble to find funding for ATP and MEP (and maybe TA) in the final bill. Though NIST Labs fared reasonably well in the FY 2005 appropriation given the cuts suffered by other agencies (they received a 12.8% increase), they still haven't fully overcome the significant cuts they suffered as a result of the FY 2004 appropriation. Those cuts resulted in layoffs of some lab personnel and stopped research.

    It will take some serious effort by the community to ensure that NIST doesn't face the same situation once again. We'll have more details as they emerge.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 06:10 PM | TrackBack
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    December 06, 2004

    The Most Powerful Man in Congress?

    The Washington Post has an interesting article about House Majority Leader Tom Delay's (R-TX) successful efforts to singlehandedly secure a large increase for the President's Moon/Mars Space Initiative in the FY 2005 Omnibus Appropriations bill. In a bill that included some significant cuts to science, most notably a cut of $105 million to the National Science Foundation, Delay, who counts among his constituents a large number of NASA's Johnson Space Center employees, was able to use his clout to ensure NASA got the extra $800 million the President requested.

    As the increase arguably came at the expense of NSF, let's hope the House and Senate hold at least one hearing in the 109th Congress on whether the benefit of this significant re-prioritization exceeds the costs to the Nation incurred by cutting fundamental research support.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 06:56 AM | TrackBack
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    December 05, 2004

    Tom Friedman on NSF Funding

    Thomas Friedman's editorial in the New York Times today hits Congress hard for approving a cut to the National Science Foundation in the Omnibus Appropriations bill. A sample:

    Of all the irresponsible aspects of the 2005 budget bill that the Republican-led Congress just passed, nothing could be more irresponsible than the fact that funding for the National Science Foundation was cut by nearly 2 percent, or $105 million.

    Think about this. We are facing a mounting crisis in science and engineering education. The generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians who were spurred to get advanced degrees by the 1957 Soviet launch of Sputnik and the challenge by President John Kennedy to put a man on the moon is slowly retiring.

    But because of the steady erosion of science, math and engineering education in U.S. high schools, our cold war generation of American scientists is not being fully replenished. We traditionally filled the gap with Indian, Chinese and other immigrant brainpower. But post-9/11, many of these foreign engineers are not coming here anymore, and, because the world is now flat and wired, many others can stay home and innovate without having to emigrate.

    If we don't do something soon and dramatic to reverse this "erosion," Shirley Ann Jackson, the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic and president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, told me, we are not going to have the scientific foundation to sustain our high standard of living in 15 or 20 years.

    Instead of doubling the N.S.F. budget - to support more science education and research at every level - this Congress decided to cut it! Could anything be more idiotic?

    Read the whole thing here.

    Update: The San Jose Mercury News agrees.

    Posted by AndyBernat at 08:11 AM | TrackBack
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    November 30, 2004

    More NY Times: NSF Appropriations Cut

    Kudos to the New York Times for noting the disconnect between Congress earmarking funds for questionable projects and, at the same time, cutting funding for the agency responsible for fueling much of the innovation that has driven our economy and improved our health and welfare.

    From the article:

    While cutting the budget of the [National] [S]cience [F]oundation, Congress found money for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in Birmingham, the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, bathhouses in Hot Springs, Ark., and hundreds of similar projects.

    The science foundation helped finance research that led to Web browsers, like Internet Explorer and Netscape, and to search engines like Google. Its research has produced advances in fields from astronomy to zoology, including weather forecasting, nanotechnology, highway safety and climate change.

    And the Times is right to contrast the increases with the cuts. With budget caps as tight as they are -- discretionary spending increasing just 4 percent, with that increase in a select few agencies (DOD and NASA, most notably in R&D) -- appropriations are truly a zero-sum game. Funding for new earmarks must come out of existing funding. In FY 2004, earmarks accounted for nearly $2 billion of the federal R&D budget. In FY 2005, it's likely to be even higher (though I don't yet have the numbers).

    In any case, I'm pleased to see that the mainstream press is beginning to bang the drum about the dangers of underfunding fundamental research. Maybe it'll have some positive effect on the FY 2006 budget process...(which has already begun!).

    Here's the full article.

    Also here's recent coverage of the NSF cuts.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 01:19 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    November 22, 2004

    Appropriations Roundup

    Here's some of the agency-by-agency wrap-up in the wake of the FY 2005 Omnibus Bill. We've detailed some of the blow-by-blow in the lead-up to final passage here. All figures include the 0.80 percent across-the-board cut imposed on all non-defense agencies to pay for additional spending in other parts of the bill.

    NSF: NSF will lose $105 million for FY 05 (compared to FY 04), a cut of 1.9%. The largest cut is to the Education and Human Resources Directorate ($98 million, 10%), with most of that cut falling on the Graduate Education and Research, Evaluation & Communication accounts. The Major Research Equipment account will see an increase of about $19 million over FY04. Research and Related Activities (home of CISE) was to be held essentially flat for FY05, but will lose $30 million (0.7%) as the result of the across-the-board cut. Here's the breakout:

    FY 2005 NSF Appropriations
    (in millions)
    FY 2004
    FY 05
    Budget Request
    FY 2005
    House Mark
    FY 2005
    Senate Mark
    FY 2005
    Final Approps*
    $ Change
    FY 05 Final vs FY 04
    % Change
    FY 05 Final vs FY 04
    Research and Related Activities
    Major Research Equip
    Education and Human Resources
    Salaries and Expenses
    National Science Board
    Inspector General
    *includes 0.80 percent across-the-board cut
    Department of Energy Office of Science: The Office of Science received a 2.8 percent increase over FY 2004, to $3.6 billion. Included in the increase was $30 million for the development of a "Leadership Class" supercomputer at DOE ($25 million for hardware, $5 million for software development). Some additional details here.

    NIST Labs: The Labs faced a dire funding situation as a result of last year's omnibus appropriation, but received some of that back this year in the form of a 10 percent increase, to $379 million. Not as good as the Senate appropriation level of $384 million, but better than the House approved level of $375 million.

    NASA: The NASA budget will increase 4.6 percent for FY 2005 to $16.1 billion, thanks in part to $800 million in additional funding targeted for the President's Moon and Mars initiative. The $800 million was necessary to avoid a veto from the President and to ensure the support of GOP majority whip Rep. Tom Delay. Unfortunately, given the strict funding constraints placed on the appropriations committee by the congressional leadership and the Administration, the additional funding had to come at the expense of other agencies within the bill.

    National Institutes of Health: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget of $28.6 billion is just 2 percent above last year's funding level, well off the 15 percent annual increases between 1998 and 2003. Most NIH institutes will receive increases between 1.6 and 2.5 percent.

    Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) was among the first to issue a press release condemning the decrease in funding for the National Science Foundation in the Omnibus Bill. His press release can be found after the jump.

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, November 22, 2004                                   

    Ehlers expresses concern over National Science Foundation funding

    Science subcommittee chairman supports omnibus bill 'under protest'

    WASHINGTON - Saying he is "concerned and astonished" that Congress decided to cut funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), Congressman Vernon J. Ehlers said he voted Saturday in favor of the FY 2005 Omnibus Appropriations bill "under protest." The legislation was approved by a 344-51 vote.

    Ehlers, who chairs the Subcommittee on Environment, Standards and Technology of the House Science Committee, submitted a statement for the Congressional Record expressing his displeasure that the legislation included $227 million less for the NSF than requested by President Bush's budget request and $60 million less than NSF received last year. Ehlers, R-Michigan, said he was especially disappointed because he had lobbied hard for increased funding and had gathered the signatures of more than 150 of his colleagues supporting the position.

    Chairman Ehlers' complete statement, with slight editing, follows:

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my displeasure with the current state of the appropriations bills.

    First, I regret that we are using an omnibus bill to finish the appropriations process for FY 2005. It is not a good procedure, under any circumstances, when we are required to vote on a bill with insufficient time for review, especially a bill as important as appropriations for most of government funding other than Defense and Homeland Security.

    My most serious concern with the omnibus bill is the appropriation for the National Science Foundation, (NSF), which is $227 million below the President's request for FY 2005. The amount is even $60 million lower than last year's appropriation primarily in the critical areas of research and education, and even reduces the support for basic research. (This cut is before accounting for the .80 percent across-the-board reduction to all accounts, meaning the cut is actually larger than $60 million.)  In the last 20 years this has happened only twice, and I am sorry to see that this year we will make it a third.

    While I understand the need to make hard choices in the face of fiscal constraint, I do not see the wisdom in putting science funding far behind other priorities. We have cut NSF despite the fact that this omnibus bill increases spending for the 2005 fiscal year, so clearly we could find room to grow basic research while maintaining fiscal constraint. But not only are we not keeping pace with inflationary growth, we are actually cutting the portion basic research receives in the overall budget.

    NSF has been praised as a model of administrative efficiency--over 95 percent of its funds go directly to support education and research programs. Former OMB director, Mitch Daniels, praised NSF as a model of administrative efficiency and called NSF one of the "true centers of excellence in this government" for its low overhead costs and efficient use of tax dollars. Furthermore, NSF has earned a reputation as the premiere basic research institution, despite receiving only 4 percent of the total federal research and development budget. I am concerned about the kind of message that we are sending by cutting funding of agencies, such as NSF, that succeed so well with already-lean budgets, while rewarding less-efficient agencies by increasing their funding.

    This decision shows dangerous disregard for our nation's future, and I am both concerned and astonished that we would make this decision at a time when other nations continue to surpass our students in math and science and consistently increase their funding of basic research. We cannot hope to fight jobs lost to international competition without a well-trained and educated workforce. If we want to remain competitive in the international marketplace, we must provide funding that stimulates innovation and supports education.

    Within our borders, NSF supports technological innovation that has been, and remains, crucial to the sustained economic prosperity that America has enjoyed for several decades. This innovation is made possible, in large measure, by NSF support of basic scientific research, particularly in the physical sciences. Research at NSF not only underpins physical science research, but lays the foundation for work in the health sciences and medicine as well. Reducing this funding is extremely short-sighted.

    While I strongly oppose the reduced budget for the National Science Foundation, I recognize that the omnibus bill contains many important pieces of legislation that are necessary to pass. Therefore, under protest, I will vote for the bill, but my vote does not in any way represent my approval for the funding cuts to the NSF.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 08:37 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    November 18, 2004

    NSF FY 2005 Appropriations Update

    (Scroll down for the latest updates)

    Conflicting rumors abound regarding the outlook for NSF in the FY 05 appropriations process. As House and Senate negotiators attempt to put the finishing touches on an omnibus appropriations bill by Friday or Saturday, word comes that NSF will likely not fare well in the bill. reports that a bit of rule-bending employed by the Senate to "find" an additional $1.2 billion in funding in their version of the VA-HUD-Independent agencies appropriation bill, which includes funding for NSF, isn't acceptable to the House leadership or the White House budget office. So in order to stay within the budget cap, appropriators will have offset any increase in spending with funding from elsewhere in the bill.

    In order to fund the President's lunar/Mars initiative at NASA, it appears other agencies in the bill will bear the brunt. reports that NSF is slated for a $60 million cut overall compared to the agency's FY 2004 funding level, but that "research funding" -- presumably the agency's Research and Related Activities account, which contains funding for NSF CISE -- will "remain frozen" at FY 2004 levels.

    A second rumor making the rounds suggests that the situation at NSF may be even more grim, with funding levels below the levels approved by the House appropriations committee. That level, you may recall, would be a 2.0 percent reduction in NSF's budget compared to FY 2004.

    We continue to press Congress on the importance of supporting funding at NSF at adequate levels. Keep an eye on this space for the latest details....

    Update (11/19 12:30pm): Now hearing that the $60 million cut to NSF's non-research account is in addition to an across-the-board 0.75 percent to all agencies, which would translate into another $41 million from NSF. Also hearing the bill will be released at 2 pm today.

    Update (11/20 11:30am): We've got the final numbers for NSF in the bill. $98 million cut from the Education and Human Resources account (plus an increase of $19 million to the Major Research Equipment account), and an across-the-board cut of 0.75 percent. Here's a copy of bill language (pdf, 360kb) for NSF. Here's the final breakout:

    FY 2005 NSF Appropriations
    (in millions)
    FY 2004
    FY 05
    Budget Request
    FY 2005
    House Mark
    FY 2005
    Senate Mark
    FY 2005
    Final Approps*
    $ Change
    FY 05 Final vs FY 04
    % Change
    FY 05 Final vs FY 04
    Research and Related Activities
    Major Research Equip
    Education and Human Resources
    Salaries and Expenses
    National Science Board
    Inspector General
    *includes 0.80 percent across-the-board cut

    Last Update: We've got the joint statement from the conferees regarding the NSF funding levels online now.

    I lied. One More Update: Two things. One, the Energy and Water Appropriations bill did make it into the Omnibus, and it did contain $30 million for DOE's Leadership Class Supercomputer ($25 million for hardware, $5 million for software development) we've covered recently.

    Two, the across the board cut was actually 0.8%, not 0.75% as I reported above. I'll make the corrections soon, but at NSF's level of resolution, it shouldn't change things too much. Ok, chart is updated (11/22).

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 01:11 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    November 17, 2004

    Supercomputing Authorization Heads to President

    The House today re-passed HR 4516, the High End Computing Revitalization Act of 2004, which would authorize the creation of a "leadership class" supercomputer at DOE and a "High-end Software Development Center." The House action means that the bill will now head to the President, who is expected to sign it.

    We've covered the bill in detail in this space previously. Because it's an authorization, it doesn't actually include any money (just "authorizes" sums to be spent should the money get appropriated). Funding for a "leadership class" computer ($30 million, including $25 million for hardware) is included in the House version of the FY 2005 Energy and Water appropriations bill. However, it's unlikely that bill will make it into the Omnibus Appropriations bill expected to be considered later this week because portions dealing with the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository are deemed too contentious to get resolved before Congress adjourns. This means those agencies funded under the Energy and Water bill may not get an appropriation for FY 05 and may instead operate under a special "continuing resolution." It's not clear at this point what that continuing resolution might look like and whether or not it would contain any funding for the proposed supercomputer.

    We'll have a better idea by Thanksgiving when the 108th Congress is expected to adjourn for good.

    The House Science Committee issued a press release marking the passage of HR 4516, but it doesn't appear to be on their website yet. You can find it after the jump.

    Update: The Chronicle of Higher Ed has more (sub req'd), including a quote from CRA board member Dan Reed:

    Daniel A. Reed, vice chancellor for information technology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that the law would increase the political visibility of supercomputing in the United States. Mr. Reed and other supporters of the bill say that the American supercomputing industry has lost its competitiveness and is not making products that can be used for cutting-edge research.

    "This will help put it back on the front burner," Mr. Reed said.

    Update (11/22): The Energy and Water appropriations bill referred to above did get included in the Omnibus Appropriations bill, and it did include $30 million for DOE's Leadership Class computing effort -- $25 million for hardware, $5 million for software development.

    Update (11/30): The President has signed the bill!


    Legislation Will Further Strengthen U.S. Competitiveness

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The House of Representatives today gave final approval to a bill that will strengthen U.S. competitiveness by revitalizing domestic computing capabilities and supporting the development of the world's fastest supercomputers.

    By a voice vote, the House passed H.R. 4516, the Department of Energy High-End Computing Revitalization Act of 2004, which will further U.S. supercomputing efforts by establishing a research and development (R&D) program within the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop new, record-breaking computing capabilities. The bill also authorizes DOE to establish supercomputer user facilities that will provide U.S. researchers access to some of the world's most advanced computers on a competitive, peer-reviewed basis.

    H.R. 4516 was introduced by Energy Subcommittee Chairman Judy Biggert (R-IL), and the House originally passed the bill in July. The Senate then amended the bill to reflect the result of negotiations with the Science Committee and passed it by unanimous consent last month. Today's House passage sends the bill to the President, who is expected to sign it.

    Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) said, "Supercomputing capability is increasingly becoming a vital component of the efforts of industry and academia to remain global leaders. By supporting the development of the world's fastest computers, and ensuring U.S. researchers and engineers have access to them, H.R. 4516 will strengthen overall U.S. competitiveness and help ensure a healthy, robust economy. The Science Committee also intends to begin work again early next year on a comprehensive supercomputing bill, like H.R. 4218, the High-Performance Computing Revitalization Act of 2004, which the House passed earlier this year."

    "High performance computers are central to maintaining U.S. leadership in many scientific fields," said Chairman Biggert. "With House passage of this bill, American researchers are one step closer to gaining the tools they need to remain the world leader in the development and use of supercomputers. Our nation's scientific enterprise, and our economy, will be stronger for it."

    Congressman Lincoln Davis (D-TN), lead Democratic sponsor of H.R. 4516, said, "With today's vote Congress has made a decision to build the fastest and most efficient computers in the world. This sends a strong message of America's commitment towards leading the world in the research and development of supercomputing technology, as well as in the field of science and engineering."

    H.R. 4516 was drafted with the input of industry leaders who are breaking new ground in the development of supercomputing hardware and software, and are key players in the effort to advance U.S. supercomputing capabilities. Two U.S. companies, IBM and Silicon Graphics Incorporated (SGI), made world headlines last week when computers they built were officially certified as the fastest in the world. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Blue Gene, which was built by IBM, was certified as the world's fastest computer, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Columbia, built by SGI, was certified as the world's second-fastest.

    Commenting on passage of H.R. 4516, IBM Vice President for Technology and Strategy, Dr. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, who testified at a June Science Committee hearing on the nation's supercomputing capabilities, said, "The efforts of Congress to advance high-performance computing (HPC) are critical to innovation in the US. The most important aspect of HPC is that through government, university, industry partnerships, we can build fast, useable, reasonably priced systems in order to advance science and solve problems of importance to our society, from the most sophisticated scientific simulations to cancer diagnosis."

    "Supercomputing drives a long food chain," said Bob Bishop, chairman and CEO of SGI. "It begins with research and discovery, ripples through invention and innovation, and finally extends into the economy, public safety and national security at large. H.R. 4516 is clear recognition that to out-compete in the 21st Century, the U.S. will have to out-compute."

    Jim Rottsolk, CEO of Cray Corporation, a global supercomputing leader, said, "Passage of the DOE High-End Computing Revitalization Act will help the U.S. regain and maintain the supercomputing primacy that is needed for continued leadership in science and industry, national security and quality of life."

    The major change in the final version of the bill is a provision requiring the Secretary of Energy to establish at least one R&D center devoted to the development of software for supercomputing applications.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 09:43 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    November 11, 2004

    VA-HUD Appropriations Update...Not Good

    As we've reported recently, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have approved two markedly different versions of the FY 05 VA-HUD-Independent Agencies Appropriations bill that contains funding for NSF and NASA. The House bill, which stuck strictly to House approved budget caps, cut NSF by 2.0 percent across the board. The Senate bill employed some rule-bending and freed up enough funding in the bill to provide NSF with a 3 percent increase (the President's requested level), including a 4.1% increase for CISE. Neither bill made it far enough in the appropriations process to get approval from either chamber.

    It now appears that the VA-HUD bill will get folded in to the omnibus appropriations bill expected to be assembled when Congress returns on Nov 16th, but will include numbers far more similar to the House levels than the Senate.

    In response to the original House bill, CRA activated its Computing Research Advocacy Network (CRAN) to urge the Senate to adopt higher numbers for NSF and the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) in particular. CRAN's effort was reasonably successful: CISE's increase in the Senate bill was the largest of any of the major directorates.

    In response to the latest developments, CRA is once again calling on CRAN to get involved. Members of the appropriations conference committee need to hear from CRAN members, especially those whose representatives sit on the House and Senate Appropriations committee (who will serve as the conferees), about the importance of supporting NSF at the highest possible level. And they need to hear before November 16th!.

    We've updated the CRAN Alert page to reflect the new situation and changed our sample letters as well. If you're a member of CRAN, please contact your Senators and Representative in the House. If you're not, please join!

    We'll have more details on the effort and the outcome as they emerge.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 10:02 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    November 09, 2004

    CSTB Releases Supercomputing Report

    Just in time for the Supercomputing '04 conference, the National Academies Computer Science and Telecommunications Board has released its report on the needs for U.S. supercomputing, Getting Up to Speed: The Future of Supercomputing.

    Study chairs Susan Graham, UC Berkeley, and Marc Snir, UIUC (and a CRA board member), will present the report here at the SC 04 on Friday, November 12, at 8:30 am.

    The report concludes

    that the demands for supercomputing to strengthen U.S. defense and national security cannot be satisfied with current policies and levels of spending. The federal government should provide stable, long-term funding and support multiple supercomputing hardware and software vendors in order to give scientists and policy-makers better tools to solve problems in areas such as intelligence, nuclear stockpile stewardship, and climate change.

    John Markoff of the New York Times has more on the report in a story today. Here's a snippet:

    "Our situation has deteriorated during the past 10 years," said Susan L. Graham, a computer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was co-chairwoman of the panel.

    The authors of the report, which was prepared for the Energy Department, said they were recommending that the federal government spend $140 million annually on new supercomputing technologies. The federal government currently spends about $42 million each year, according to a recent report of the High End Computing Revitalization Task Force, a federal government working group.

    "If we don't start doing something about this now there will be nothing available in 10 years when we really need these systems, " Ms. Graham said.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 11:08 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | Research

    October 29, 2004

    CRA and USACM Urge Congress to Support NIST Labs

    CRA and ACM's U.S. Public Policy Office today urged members of the House and Senate to adopt Senate approved funding levels for NIST Labs as part of the expected negotiation over omnibus appropriations legislation for FY 2005. As we've covered previously, NIST finds itself in dire funding straits as a result of decisions made by appropriators to cut $22 million in funding for the Labs in last year's funding bill.

    Both the House and Senate appropriations committees have completed work on their respective bills, with the Senate bill coming closer to addressing the funding shortfall. The Senate bill would funnel more funding to the NIST Labs than the House version, adding $43 million to the FY 2004 number for a total of $384 million for FY 2005. In contrast, the House version would provide $375 million for FY 2005. Both versions are still well short of the Administration's request of $423 million.

    CRA and USACM joined in writing to members of the House and Senate expected to be involved in the negotiations over the FY 05 Omnibus:

    October 29, 2004

    Dear Conferee:

    As representatives of two leading computing societies representing more than two hundred computing research institutions and over 85,000 computing professionals, we write to express our immense concern over the current funding level for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Laboratory Program, and to urge you to support the program at the more appropriate level approved by the Senate in the Commerce, State, Justice and Judiciary Appropriations bill or higher.

    The NIST Labs have played an important role in the continuing progress of computing research that has, in turn, enabled the "new" economy. Advances in information technology have driven significant improvements in product design, development, and distribution for American industry, provided instant communications for people worldwide, and led new scientific disciplines like bioinformatics and nanotechnology that show great promise in improving a wide range of health and communications technologies.

    Within NIST's Labs, the Computer Security Division (CSD) has played a crucial role in computer security by conducting research on security issues concerning emerging technologies, by promoting security assessment techniques, by providing security management guidance, and by generating greater awareness of the need for security. In particular, the CSD has demonstrated its ability to meld science and technology with commerce by working with industry and the cryptographic community to develop an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). The CSD's work on AES and its numerous other contributions have assisted the U.S. government, information technology industry, research enterprise, and the overall security of the Internet.

    Current work underway at the NIST labs will have profound effects on the nation's cybersecurity, as many Federal agencies rely on NIST's expertise and recommendations. Other areas where NIST's work is crucial to the nation include electronic voting technologies and standards, as well as research into semiconductor manufacturing and nanotechnology that hold the promise for significant advancements in computing.

    Unfortunately, this work and NIST's efforts to recruit talented researchers are in jeopardy as a result of the inadequate funding levels enacted as part of the FY 2004 appropriations process. To avoid jeopardizing NIST's ability to produce materials trusted by the community, impairing its ability to conduct research, and detracting from some of its vital standards-oriented work, we urge you to make this funding a priority for FY 2005.

    As a neutral third party, NIST provides an invaluable setting for industry, academia, and government to work together on crucial technical issues. As a result, NIST and its work have tremendous credibility. The underfunding of NIST will adversely affect this credibility as well as NIST's ability to function, and will have serious long-term consequences.

    The Computing Research Association (CRA) and the U.S. Public Policy Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery (USACM) stand ready to assist you as you address this important issue. We appreciate your continued support for research and development funding and would be pleased to answer any questions you or your staff might have.


    James D. Foley, CRA Chair
    Eugene Spafford, USACM Chair

    Previous CRA/USACM joint letter here.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 02:11 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    September 22, 2004

    First Senate NSF Appropriations Numbers

    Early word out of yesterday's Senate Appropriations Committee markup is that NSF ended up with a 3 percent increase over FY 2004, matching the President's budget request. That's $5.75 billion for FY 05, $169 million over FY 2004, and significantly better than the House's 2 percent cut to NSF's overall budget.

    Still, we're a long way from the 15 percent increases authorized by Congress and signed by the President in December 2002 in the NSF Authorization. Given inflation, that 3 percent increase won't mean many new opportunities for the agency.

    More details about specific programs as I get them.

    Update: Here's the breakout:

    FY 2005 NSF Appropriations
    (in millions)
    FY 2004
    FY 05
    Budget Request
    FY 2005
    House Mark
    FY 2005
    Senate Mark
    $ Change
    FY 05 Senate vs. FY 04
    % Change
    FY 05 Senate vs. FY 04
    Research and Related Activities
    Major Research Equip
    Education and Human Resources
    Salaries and Expenses
    National Science Board
    Inspector General

    Another Update: Here's the directorate by directorate breakout:

    NSF Directorate by Directorate Appropriations
    (in millions)
    FY 2004
    FY 2005
    FY 2005
    Senate Mark
    $ Change
    FY 05 Senate vs. FY 04
    % Change
    FY 05 Senate vs. FY 04
    Biological Sciences
    Computer and Information Science
    Mathematical and Physical Sciences
    Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences
    Polar Programs
    Integrative Activities

    Final Update: So, it appears computing did a little better than average in the Senate mark. Only SBE and "Integrative Activities" had higher levels of increase vs. FY 2004 than CISE, and they have considerably smaller baselines. CISE benefited in part from an increase to the Information Technology Research (ITR) line vs. the President's budget request. The program had been slated to decrease to $178 million for FY 05, but was bumped up to $190 million in the Senate mark. The remainder of the increase is apparently spread throughout the core research programs in CISE.

    Here are some snippets relevant to computing research from the Committee Report:

    NSF has completed the planned 5-year priority for Information Technology Research [ITR] within Computer and Information Science and Engineering [CISE], yet the ITR program has also increased our understanding of computing, communications, and information systems as well as the areas of large-scale networking, new high-end architectures, high-data-volume instruments, and information management. To continue this fundamental research, the Committee has provided $190,000,000 to ITR within CISE.
    I think a part of the credit for IT R&D remaining a priority within this appropriation has to go to all those who participated in CRA's CRAN activity to urge members of the Senate to recognize the critical role NSF plays in leading the federal IT R&D effort, and how critical that effort, in turn, is to the future of innovation in this country.

    But there's still more to be done. Neither the House nor the Senate bills have yet come before their respective bodies -- and it's likely neither will before the election. What is likely is that the bills will get bundled together as part of an omnibus appropriations bill that contains all of the unfinished FY 2005 appropriations bills (currently numbering 12) and passed en masse. How the discrepancies between the cuts in the House bill and the more generous Senate bill get resolved is still an open question. If you haven't yet contacted your Senators and House Member, there's still time!

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 09:26 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    September 16, 2004

    Appropriations Update: Defense, NSF, NIST, Homeland Security

    As the federal government approaches the end of the 2004 fiscal year (on September 30, 2004), Congress has, to date, completed only one of the 13 annual appropriations bills necessary to fund the operations of government. They have, however, made some progress on others, including some actions that impact computing researchers. Here's an update on where we stand:

    Defense (P.L. 108-287): The FY 2005 Defense Appropriation has the distinction of being the only appropriations bill that has been signed into law (P.L. 108-287). Researchers fared reasonably well under the bill. Aggregate basic research funding at the Department of Defense (DOD), so-called "6.1" research in DOD parlance, will rise to $1.5 billion in FY 2005, an increase of 7.8 percent or $110 million over the FY 2004 appropriated level. DOD applied research ("6.2"), will increase 11.9 percent to $4.9 billion, and advanced technology development ("6.3") will rise 9.8 percent to $6.2 billion in FY 2005. All together, the Defense science and technology account (6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 research and development) will increase 10.3 percent or $1.2 billion, to $13.3 billion overall in FY 2005.

    Of particular importance to computing researchers, the Defense-wide "Computing Systems and Communications Technology" program line which includes much of the funding for IT R&D at DOD and DARPA has been split into two program lines. The new "Information and Communications Technology" line will receive $192.7 million in funding in FY 2005, and the new "Cognitive Computing Systems" account will receive $151.2 million in FY 2005. Their combined $344 million represents about $1.2 million more than the President requested for FY 2005, and $5.5 million more than FY 2004.

    Also the "High Performance Computing Modernization Program" received an increase of $32.7 million or 15.9 percent over FY 2004, increasing to $238 million for FY 2005.

    Full details on the branch-by-branch funding breakouts are included in a table after the jump.

    Additional Link: The final conference report.

    VA-HUD-Independent Agencies (HR 5041): The VA-HUD bill includes funding for the National Science Foundation and NASA. So far, the only action taken on the VA-HUD bill has been a markup of the House version of the bill in the House Appropriations Committee. As we've covered previously, the House Appropriations committee bill would cut NSF's overall budget by 2.0 percent -- about $73 million -- from FY 2004, a level $194 million below the President's requested level and well below the 15 percent per year increase authorized by Congress and approved by the President in 2002. The bill achieves the cuts by stopping three programs planned for starts in FY 2005 -- the 21st Workforce Initiative, a new class of Science and Technology Centers, and a proposed Innovation Fund -- and by calling for $18.7 million of cuts out of unspecified current programs.

    The situation is potentially more dire given that a large cut to NASA's budget in the bill ($1.1 billion below the President's requested level) has led to a veto threat from the Administration and angry words from Rep. Tom Delay, an influential member of the House Republican leadership who now represents large portions of the NASA Houston workforce. Mitigating those cuts enough to enable Delay and the Administration to sign off on the bill may require finding funding elsewhere in the bill to cover NASA's shortfall, so NSF may find its budget once again under the knife.

    The situation may be somewhat better in the Senate VA-HUD bill. Though the Senate has not yet marked up the bill, it has been suggested that some creative bookkeeping (namely, declaring spending for the Veterans' Administration in the bill "emergency spending" related to the war effort) might free some additional money from the budget cap. While there's no guarantee NSF would see any of that additional funding in the bill, the agency is expected to fare better. At this point, however, no numbers are available.

    CRA has joined with many other scientific societies to urge members of Congress to reject the proposed cuts in the VA-HUD bill, but there's still time for you to help as well. CRA's Computing Research Advocacy Network has been very active in contacting members of the Senate and House in support of NSF funding. In order to get involved, see CRAN's Advocacy Alert page, with a complete background on the issue, sample letters, and contact information for your representatives in Congress.

    Commerce, Justice, State (CJS) (HR 4754, S. 2809): Includes funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). We've detailed the dire funding situation faced by NIST at the start of the 2004 fiscal year. A $22 million cut to the agency's budget in the FY 2004 appropriation left it unable to move forward on much of its cyber security work and led to layoffs of some lab personnel.

    Both the House and Senate have marked up their FY 2005 CJS appropriations bills. The Senate bill would funnel more funding to the NIST Labs than the House version, adding $43 million to the FY 2004 number for a total of $384 million for FY 2005. In contrast, the House version would provide $375 million for FY 2005. Both versions are still well short of the Administration's request of $423 million.

    However, the Senate took a completely different path than the House regarding the controversial Advanced Technology Program. The House bill and the President's budget request both zeroed out the $177 million ATP program, but the Senate version would actually increase the program by 14.5 percent to $203 million. It's not clear how this significant divergence of opinion will get resolved.

    Of note to computing researchers, the Senate bill would set aside $3 million for quantum computing research, with the committee noting that a breakthrough in quantum computing technology would rival that of the transistor 50 years ago.

    Homeland Security (HR 4567, S. 2537): Both the House and Senate have marked up their respective versions of the Homeland Security bill; both have the same relatively small investment of $18 million in cyber security research and development for FY 2005 out of a total Homeland Security S&T budget of over $1.0 billion.

    Outlook: As noted previously, it's likely most of the work on the outstanding appropriations bills won't move forward until after the election, when Congress returns in lame duck session. Until then, the federal government will operate under a "continuing resolution," which will fund all government agencies at current funding levels and freeze any new starts until the remaining bills are passed. The odds are also pretty good that Congress will elect not to do anything during the lame duck session and instead punt to the new Congress in January. About the only factor opposing that is that both Appropriations chairman will have to relinquish their posts in the new Congress (due to committee term limits), so both would rather deal with the issues during their term, rather than after.

    On the other hand, continuing resolutions are very appealing to fiscal conservatives in the Congress because it forces federal agencies to freeze new spending for the duration of the resolution.

    In any case, don't expect much to get settled until after the election.

    More details as they emerge....

    Final Science and Technology Funding Levels, Defense Appropriation
    (in Millions)
    FY 2004
    Budget Request
    FY 2005
    $ Change
    FY 05 vs. FY 04
    % Change
    FY 05 vs. FY 04
    Total Science and Technology (6.1, 6.2, 6.3)
    Total Basic Research (6.1)
    Total Applied Research (6.2)
    Total Adv. Tech. Development (6.3)
    Total Army 6.1, 6.2, 6.3
    Basic - 6.1
    Applied - 6.2
    Adv. Tech. Dev. - 6.3
    Total Navy 6.1, 6.2, 6.3
    Basic - 6.1
    Applied - 6.2
    Adv. Tech. Dev. - 6.3
    Total Air Force 6.1, 6.2, 6.3
    Basic - 6.1
    Applied - 6.2
    Adv. Tech. Dev. - 6.3
    Total Defense-Wide 6.1, 6.2, 6.3
    Basic - 6.1
    Applied - 6.2
    Adv. Tech. Dev. - 6.3

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 04:45 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    Senate Committee Passes Supercomputing Authorization

    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources passed a modified version of a House bill that would authorize the Secretary of Energy to develop a "leadership class" supercomputer and establish a "High-end Software Development Center."

    The bill, HR 4516, is a melding of the House version of HR 4516, introduced by Reps. Judy Biggert (R-IL) and Lincoln Davis (D-TN) and Senate bill S. 2176, introduced by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). Both bills are loosely based on the recommendations from the High End Computing Revitalization Task Force Workshop CRA hosted in June, 2003. (We've covered both bills here recently.)

    The compromise bill adopts the House's less prescriptive (and lower) authorized funding amounts ($50 million in FY 05, $55 million in FY 06, $60 million in FY 07), but adds the software development center from the Senate bill and strips language added at the insistence of Rep. Brad Sherman that would have required a study on the implications of artificial intelligence research.

    Next stop for the compromise bill is reconsideration by both the House and Senate. The modifications to the bill should help ensure quick passage in both chambers.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 10:53 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    September 14, 2004

    Wolfowitz Praises Defense S&T

    Tech Daily's William New and Sarah Lai Stirland have a piece today (sub. req'd) on the White House's 2003 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers in which Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz praised the role of science and technology in America's victory in the Cold War.

    At the ceremony, Wolfowitz said he considered pursuing a doctorate in chemistry at MIT but opted instead for political science. Still, he lauded the role of science and technology in modern society. He attributed America's ultimate dominance in the Cold War to the nation's technological and scientific superiority.

    "I think it could be argued correctly that it was science and technology that eventually forced the Soviet Union to face up to the failure of its own system," he said. Pointing to technology's role in the current war against terrorism, Wolfowitz said that it "allowed us to win two brilliant military victories, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq."

    While it's great that the leadership of the Pentagon recognizes the important contribution S&T makes to DOD's mission, it's equally important that they recognize that the technologies they're relying upon now are the result of investments made in basic research 15, 20, even 30 years ago (or more). And it's crucial that they recognize that DOD is moving away from those sorts of long-term investments, emphasizing instead nearer-term development projects. You can see this trend by looking at this chart showing the actual dollars of defense spending for basic research, applied research, and advanced technology development ("6.1," "6.2", and "6.3" research in Defense parlance, respectively).


    What the chart shows is that while advanced technology development (the "D" in "R&D") funding has more than doubled over the 20 year period from 1984-2004, basic research (the "R" in "R&D") has remained essentially flat.

    This funding profile isn't sustainable if we hope to continue to fuel the innovation that drives the technology that in turn gives us the advantages we enjoy over our adversaries today.

    (For a bit more background on problems with DOD's approach to basic research, and particularly IT-related research, check this post detailing DARPA's role in cybersecurity research. CRA also spelled out these problems in a bit more detail in our testimony (pdf) before PITAC's cybersecurity subcommittee in July.)

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 01:22 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    September 10, 2004

    NSF Funding Rumors

    The Senate Appropriations Committee next week will apparently move their version of the VA-HUD-Independent Agencies appropriations bill that includes funding for the National Science Foundation and NASA. I've been told from a couple of different sources that NSF will fare better in the Senate bill than it did in the House version of the bill -- which called for a cut of 2.0 percent to the agency's budget in FY 2005 -- but I don't have any specific numbers.

    CRA joined with a number of different scientific societies to urge the Senate to reject the funding levels contained in the House bill, so it's good to see that some of that pressure might have paid off. But we'll wait and see what the actual bill contains.

    In the meantime, you've still got a chance to urge your Senators to reject the proposed cuts to NSF. CRA's Computing Research Advocacy Network (CRAN) has been very active in this effort and has an informative page with background on the issue, contact information for your Senators and Representative, as well as a sample letter you can use to make the case for computing research. The response so far has been fantastic, but in this case, more is definitely better. So if you haven't already, please take a look at the site. And consider joining CRAN!

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 03:41 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    August 18, 2004

    OMB Guidance to Agencies: High End Computing, Cyberinfrastructure are Priorities

    The White House Office of Management and Budget -- the gatekeepers of agency budgets in the executive branch -- and OSTP have issued guidance to federal science agencies (pdf, 360kb) directing them to make high end computing and cyberinfrastructure investments a priority in their FY 2006 budget requests, even at the expense of "lower-priority" research within the federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) initiative.

    While the Administration's focus on high-end computing and cyberinfrastructure research is welcome news, the thought that they may ask agencies to cannibalize other research within the NITRD program is very worrisome.

    Here's the relevant language from the memo:

    The Networking and Information Technology R&D (NITRD) program is a high Administration priority. While the importance of each of the NITRD program areas continues, high-end computing (supercomputing) and cyberinfrastructure R&D should be given higher relative priority due to the potential of each in furthering progress across a broad range of scientific and technological application areas. The recent report of the High-End Computing Revitalization Task Force (HECRTF) describes a coordinated R&D plan for core high-end computing technology, as well as multi-agency approaches for addressing high-end computing capability, capacity, and accessibility issues. Agency plans in high-end computing should be consistent with the HECRTF plan, emphasize coordination, leverage the efforts of all agencies and, where appropriate, provide explicit benefit to multiple agencies through coordinated multi-agency investments. Cyberinfrastructure R&D encompasses research on hardware and software tools that is aimed at strengthening the connections between new and existing computers (including supercomputers), databases, scientific instruments, researchers and facilities. By providing secure, reliable, distributed computing environments and tools that allow the science and engineering communities to produce, collect, store, communicate, analyze and quickly share huge amounts of information, improvements in cyberinfrastructure will accelerated discovery. Agency requests should reflect these two program priorities by reallocating funds from lower priority efforts.
    Federal Computer Week has a story on the memo and what it means for NITRD. The story quotes NITRD's David Nelson as saying other research areas under NITRD may "receive lessened funding" as a result of the guidance.
    Funding cuts are not a certainty, Nelson said. Although his office's components compete for money to some extent, "it isn't necessarily a zero-sum game within the NITRD program," he said. "There's no hard and fast rule that it can't exceed the 2005 budget."

    Offsets for new fiscal year 2006 priorities could be found from other areas of research, Nelson said. Still, with federal deficits mounting, "higher-priority things will probably come at the expense of lower-priority things," he added.

    Though Congress still hasn't settled the FY 2005 budget, this is our first peek at how the FY 2006 budget will play out for R&D. This priority-setting will likely have a significant impact on the discipline in the years to come, so it's crucially important that the computing community work with the agencies and the administration to ensure the right balances are struck.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 10:56 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    August 13, 2004

    NSF Funding: Get Involved!

    Apologies for the slow pace of updates recently. Things are a bit slow around DC this time of year. Congress is in recess for the month of August so that the Members can head home to their respective districts for primaries and lots of campaigning. They'll be back September 7th, hoping to "wrap up" work in October so they can get back to their districts for those last hectic weeks of campaigning before the November 2nd elections. Chances are, however, that they won't accomplish their primary legislative goal -- passing the 12 (of 13 total) appropriations bills still outstanding before the start of the new fiscal year October 1st. In fact, it's likely that they'll be back in town after the election in "lame duck" session to wrap things up. And, if I was a betting man, I'd wager that they still won't get the appropriations bills done and will punt to the next Congress in January.

    The delay was preordained once Congress failed to pass a joint Budget Resolution earlier this year. Not having a Congressionally approved budget resolution to set the spending caps for the appropriators means that any appropriations bill coming to the floor of either chamber could get "larded up" with amendments for favorite causes and the congressional leadership will be unable to oppose them using a "budget process" argument. Each amendment would force lawmakers to take a stand and vote up or down on some program -- not the sort of thing the leadership wants to have happen in a tough election year. So, the easiest solution for the leadership (on both sides of the aisle) is just avoid the issue altogether -- bundle the bills together into one giant "omnibus bill" and save it for a time when the costs are lower.

    That noted, the House Appropriations Committee has already moved far enough along on one bill especially important to our community to generate concern. As we've covered previously, the VA-HUD-Independent Agencies appropriations bill approved by the committee just prior to the recess includes some significant cuts to NSF and NASA. Under the bill, NSF would lose $111 million in current funding in FY 2005, a decrease of 2.0 percent. This is a far cry from the 15 percent increase for FY 2005 authorized by Congress and approved by the President as part of the NSF Authorization Act of 2002.

    In response, members of CRA's Computing Research Advocacy Network (CRAN) have been contacting their Representatives and Senators urging them to reject the cuts and instead fund NSF at the level approved in the NSF Authorization Act. If you're already a CRAN member, you should have already received the "CRAN Alert" with all the information, background, sample letters and contact information to help make the case for NSF. Even if you're not a CRAN member, I'd urge you to use the information to contact your own Senators and Representative, and join the network!

    I'll be providing further details on our efforts and the bill's progress as it moves forward. But please take the time to contact your representatives in Congress. A strong show of support from the community is crucial in our efforts to reverse these cuts....

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 08:57 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    July 28, 2004

    Forbes on Supercomputing

    Matthew Swibel covers federal funding for supercomputing today in Forbes (and quotes CRA).

    U.S. Plays Supercomputer Catch-up.

    (I usually don't link to the print version of articles, but Forbes is using some sort of ad displaying script that isn't playing nicely with my Safari browser on the Mac...)

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 08:20 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    July 22, 2004

    More Detail on NSF Cuts in House Approps Bill

    I've managed to get my hands on the as yet unreleased committee report for the House VA-HUD-Independent Agencies appropriations bill, which contains some additional detail about the nature of the cuts planned for NSF in FY 2005 (first covered here).

    The committee has included some accounting changes in addition to the cuts proposed, which makes it a little tricky to compare the committee recommended levels to the FY 2004 appropriation and the President's FY 2005 request. First, the committee moved $26.0 million in "administrative costs" that were included in the R&RA FY 2004 budget to the Salaries and Expenses (S&E) budget line. The committee also decided to leave the President's Math and Science Partnerships program ($80 million) in the Education and Human Resources directorate (EHR) rather than move them to the R&RA account, as proposed in the President's budget. As a result, the adjusted level for R&RA would be $4.152 billion for FY 2005, $73.7 million below the comparable FY 2004 level and $194.3 million below the comparable FY 2005 budget request.

    To reach that level, the appropriators targeted three new programs: the Workforce for the 21st Century program ($20 million), the proposed new class of Science and Technology Centers ($30 million), and the proposed Innovation Fund ($5 million). The remaining $18.7 million in cuts will have to come from existing programs in R&RA -- a cut of less than half of one percent to existing programs. Not good at all, but a little better than it first appeared.

    Additionally, the committee included some language supporting continued research to "further productivity growth in the information economy."

    From within the Engineering, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorates and the National Nanotechnology Initiative, the Committee remains concerned that researchers are reaching the physical limits of current complementary metal oxide semiconductor process technology and that this will have significant implications for continued productivity growth in the information economy. The Committee commends NSF's examination of the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors and its initiation of the Silicon Nanoelectronics and Beyond program and encourages NSF to consider increasing research support, where feasible, through this program.
    The Committee doesn't provide directorate by directorate breakouts for its funding recommendations, instead it takes NSF to task for not providing its FY 2005 budget justification in the form the committee requested (not detailed enough). The Committee directs NSF to submit a revised plan within 30 days of the enactment of the bill that
    addresses the Foundation's highest priority research requirements. In developing this plan, the Foundation is urged to be sensitive to maintaining the proper balance between the goal of stimulating interdisciplinary research and the need to maintain robust single-issue research in the core disciplines.

    Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction would see an increase of $53.2 million over FY 2004, but $5 million less than the President's budget request. Included in the increase is an extra $9.5 million for the IceCube Neutrino Detector Observatory, which the committee calls and "acceleration of the funding profile" to enable certain economies in the overall project cost, and a transfer of $12 million for the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) to the R&RA account, reflecting the recommendation of the NRC's recent review of the project that it wasn't yet ready for MREFC status.

    The Appropriations Committee is expected to approve the bill by voice vote on Friday, but it will likely be some time before the bill reaches the House floor. Congress goes on "recess" next week through August.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 02:49 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    July 21, 2004

    INDUCE Act Hearing Tomorrow

    The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Chairman Orrin Hatch's INDUCE Act -- a dangerous piece of legislation that ostensibly protects copyright by making liable anyone who "intentionally aids, abets, induces or procures" a copyright violation. As Intel VP Les Vadasz writes in today's WSJ:

    Sen. Hatch and others argue that the bill will protect kids from porn and punish those who "intentionally induce" piracy. In reality it will do neither. But it will do serious harm to innovation.
    (Thanks to Ed Felten for the pointer).

    Here's the witness list for tomorrow's hearing.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 08:43 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    July 20, 2004

    NSF and NASA Lose in House VA-HUD Approps Markup

    NSF and NASA would both suffer significant cuts under legislation approved in a House Appropriations Subcommittee. Here are the first NSF numbers from the subcommittee committee markup of the House VA-HUD-Independent Agencies Appropriations bill. Apparently the full committee will move the bill on Friday:

    NSF Funding Levels From the VA-HUD-Independent Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Markup
    (in millions of dollars)
    FY 2004
    President's FY 2005 request
    FY 2005
    House VA-HUD Approps
    Change vs. Request
    Change vs. FY 2004
    Research and Related Activities
    Education and Human Resources
    Major Research Facilities C&E
    Total NSF

    I don't yet have similar numbers for NASA, but the committee "highlights" indicates a $229 million cut to the agency vs. the FY 2004 funding level, $1.1 billion below the President's requested level. Here's the rest of the NASA highlights:

    NASA is funded at $15.1 billion, $229 million below last year and $1.1 billion below the request. The bulk of these savings come from the elimination of funding for new initiatives. The reductions include $30 million for technology maturation efforts; $230 million from Project Prometheus related to Jupiter Icy Moon Orbital; $438 million resulting from delaying the Crew Exploration Vehicle; and $100 million from Space Launch Initiatives by accelerating the termination of activities. The bill fully funds shuttle operations at the requested level of $4.3 billion. The committee fully funds Mars programs at the requested level of $691 million.

    As soon as the committee report is available (which will include detail and rationale for the cuts) I'll excerpt the information here.

    Needless to say, NSF's funding level is a long way from the 15 percent per year increases authorized by Congress and approved by the President in December 2002. In thinking about why R&D has been de-emphasized, it's hard not to juxtapose the decrease with the news that scientists and engineers are increasingly organizing and involving themselves in the political campaigns. Maybe the recent attacks of some notable scientists and engineers on the Bush Administration science policy are affecting the will of the majority to spend political capital on pushing for R&D increases? I don't know, but I'm not sure the new "Scientists and Engineers for Johnson/Humphrey Kerry/Edwards" (sub. req'd) will help make the case any easier....

    Anyway, as always, as more detail emerges check here for details.

    Update: Here's more from USA Today.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 04:36 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    July 12, 2004

    Catching Up: NIST Appropriations

    The House passed it's version of the Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations bill on Thursday which includes funding for National Institute of Standards and Technology. The good news is that the bill includes an increase of funding for core programs at NIST -- though it's still below the President's requested level -- and includes language urging the increase to be used on programs related to national security, including cyber security and biometric work, as well as urging NIST to continue to work on Help America Vote Act work. Here are some quick snippets from the committee report:

    The Committee recommendation includes $375,838,000 for the Scientific and Technical Research and Services (core programs) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is $35,095,000 above the current year, and $47,030,000 below the request.

    The Committee recommendation includes $338,657,000 and 1,831 positions to support the full base operating costs of the core NIST programs, as requested. In addition, the Committee recommendation includes programmatic increases totaling $37,181,000 for this account. The Committee expects NIST to prioritize funding for programs associated with standards and guidelines relating to the national security of the United States, including efforts relating to biometric and cyber security and programs relating to improvements to the nation's manufacturing and services sectors. The Committee strongly urges NIST to give priority consideration to Help America Vote Act outreach to the election community; expediting work on a new voting standards accreditation program; and its work with the Technical Guidelines Development Committee working with the Election Assistance Commission. NIST is directed to provide in advance of the fiscal year 2006 hearings a report detailing what steps must be taken to bring its activities in line with the timetable established by the Act. Further, the Committee directs NIST to provide all necessary equipment for the Advanced Measurement Laboratory in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

    Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program.--Recent economic downturns have had a devastating effect on the manufacturing sector. In an effort to ameliorate some of these effects, the Committee recommendation includes $106,000,000 for this program in fiscal year 2005, which is $66,810,000 above the request and the current year. Federal support for the MEP program, combined with State and private sector funding, have translated into more jobs, more tax revenue, more exports, and a more secure supply source of consumer and defense goods.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 04:36 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    July 10, 2004

    Post from Snowbird: Catching Up with Hearing News

    So I'm well ensconced in the Cliff Lodge at the Snowbird Resort in Snowbird, Utah, preparing for CRA's biannual Snowbird Conference, but finally have a chance to catch up on the blog.

    As reported, former CRA Gov't Affairs Committee Chairman and current Co-chair of PITAC Ed Lazowska testified before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census on the subject of IT research and development. The first witness panel was a fairly typical government panel: Dave Nelson, head of the National Coordinating Office for IT; Peter Freeman, AD for CISE at NSF; Hratch Semerjian, Interim Director for NIST; and Edward Oliver, Associate Director of the Office of Advanced Scientific Computing at DOE. They made the standard case for the importance of IT R&D at their agencies and defended the interagency coordination process.

    The Committee Chair Adam Putnam opened the hearing with a strong statement in support of the federal role in IT R&D -- worth reading. (Also available there are links to all the other testimony from the hearing.)

    Lazowska was joined on the second panel by Donna Fossum, Manager of the RaDiUS Database project at RAND, William Scherlis, Computer Scientist from CMU, and Stephen Squires, from HP. Lazowska, Scherlis and Squires did a fantastic job making the case for the crucial role federal investment in IT R&D plays in fostering innovation, enabling the sciences and enabling the missions of the various federal agencies. Lazowska's testimony, endorsed by CRA and USACM, makes a great "general" case for IT R&D, something that will probably make a good "advocacy" piece for use by anyone in the community who gets a chance to talk to their local representatives or other policymakers.

    The discussion that followed the opening statements of the second panel was remarkable for its wide-range and by the obvious engagement of the subcommittee chair Putnam. Putnam, kept the panel for nearly an hour asking probing questions and really demonstrating a clear desire to understand the case. I think it's fair to count him among the members of Congress who "get it." I was very impressed by the discussion.

    The second panel: (from left) Fossum, Lazowska, Scherlis and Squires.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 02:35 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to CRA | Funding | Policy | Policy

    June 11, 2004

    Administration says more Cyber Security Research and IT Security Personnel Needed

    Thanks to Jeff Grove of ACM for pointing out this story (subscription req'd), by William New, in National Journal's Tech Daily (sub req'd) covering remarks by Department of Homeland Security Chief Security Officer Jack Johnson, DHS Chief Information Officer Steve Cooper, and FAA Deputy Director Thomas O'Keefe suggesting the great need for information security professionals in government and increased cyber security research and development. Some choice quotes:

    "There is an incredibly shrinking pool of IT security professionals in government," said Jack Johnson, chief security officer at the Homeland Security Department. "The bench is not just thin; the bench is non-existent," he added in a sports reference to backup players. "We need to train the next generation" of IT professionals.

    Johnson said Homeland Security does not have the IT workforce to build the systems it needs and is "absolutely dependent" on help from the research and academic communities. The department contracts a lot of work outside government, he said, but there are a limited number of cleared contractors and high turnover of personnel.


    Thomas O'Keefe, deputy director of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) office of information systems security, said more research and development, and more collaboration among researchers and industry, is needed on cyber security.
    "The sharing amongst bad guys is growing," he said at a conference. "The sharing amongst the good guys on procurement, technology and approach needs to grow at an equal or greater rate. My observation is we're just not as good at it."
    O'Keefe said firms are reluctant to mention their vulnerabilities because it may "unnecessarily put concern in people's minds." His office is working with the National Science Foundation to boost cyber-security research, as it is "still very small," he said. He and others on the panel predicted continually growing cyber attacks. "You've got to expect cyber storms," he said.

    The president last year signed a law authorizing a significant increase in cyber-security R&D funding, but it was not requested in the fiscal 2005 White House budget proposal.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 08:17 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | People | Research

    NSF Study Finds 2/3 of Federal R&D Funding in the Last Decade went to the Life Sciences

    The profile of federally funded R&D at universities and colleges that emerges from this analysis raises issues of proportionality. Specifically, in the current funding profile, approximately two-thirds of the federal funds going to universities and colleges for the conduct of R&D is focused on only one field of science – life science – and federal R&D funding is concentrated at only a few research universities. These findings raise questions about whether other critical national needs that have substantial R&D components (such as environment, energy, homeland security, and education) are receiving the investment they require and whether the concentration of dollars at a few institutions is shortchanging science students at institutions that receive little or no federal R&D funding.
    This finding is from a recently released report (pdf) by the Science and Technology Policy Institute for the National Science Foundation.

    Richard Jones of the American Institute of Physics has a good summation of the report and the questions it raises about the federal R&D portfolio here.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 08:01 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding | Policy

    June 03, 2004

    First FY 2005 Appropriations Numbers Released

    The House Appropriations Committee would have $98 billion more to spend in FY 2005 compared to FY 2004 -- an increase of 4.5 percent -- based on the recommended funding allocations announced Wednesday by the Chairman of the Committee. The so-called "302(b)" allocation recommendations announced today would, if ratified by a majority of the Appropriations committee members, set the funding levels for each of the 13 appropriations subcommittees responsible for shepherding the 13 appropriations bills necessary to fund all federal agencies each year. The 4.5 percent increase recommended by Chairman Young (and likely to be approved by a majority of the committee) is slightly more austere than President's budget proposal, introduced in February.

    I've whipped up a basic chart (pdf) using Young's numbers that shows the various allocation levels and how they compare to current funding (FY 2004 enacted) and to the President's request. Of most interest to computing researchers are the funding allocations for:

    • VA-HUD-Independent Agencies, which includes funding for NSF and NASA
    • Defense, DARPA and basic research in the service labs;
    • Energy and Water Development, includes funding for DOE's Office of Science;
    • Commerce, Justice, State, includes NIST and NOAA; and,
    • Homeland Security.

    FY 04 Enacted
    FY 05 Pres. Request
    302(b) Allocation
    Percent Change vs. Enacted
    Percent Change vs. Request
    Commerce, Justice, State$37,581$39,553$39,7925.9%0.6%
    Energy and Water Development$27,257$27,938$27,9882.7%0.2%
    Homeland Security$29,242$31,104$30,7965.3%-1.0%
    VA, HUD, Independent Agencies$90,800$92,129$92,9302.3%0.9%

    Because each of these appropriations bills includes lots of other agencies and programs not related to computing research programs, it's difficult to draw any conclusions about what these numbers will ultimately mean for federal IT R&D. What is obvious is where the priorities are -- defense-related programs -- and where things will likely stay about the same -- Energy and Water Development, and VA-HUD. There's not much room in either of the latter allocations to grow programs included in those bills. In fact, considering the current inflation rate of 2.29%, programs in either bill would stay generally flat funded in FY 05.

    So, a difficult task ahead for advocates of science funding this year. Watch this space for more detail as it becomes available.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 02:07 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    May 27, 2004

    Agency Funding Only Going to Get Worse?

    Funding for federal agencies, including NSF, will face cuts in FY 2006, according to White House Office of Management and Budget budget planning guidance for agencies, the Washington Post reports today.

    It's important to point out that this is one of the very first steps in the budget process. The agencies will craft their budgets over the next 4-6 months keeping the OMB guidance in mind, then submit them to OMB for final approval before they become part of the President's Budget Request in February 2005. And then Congress will take its crack at them during the 2005 legislative year. The numbers can and will change significantly before they're finalized. However, the lower the number given to the agencies at the start of the process, the harder it is to raise it through the remainder of the process -- so this guidance doesn't bode well for some science agencies in FY 06.

    From the story:

    The funding levels referred to in the memo would be a tiny slice out of the federal budget -- $2.3 billion, or 0.56 percent, out of the $412.7 billion requested for fiscal 2005 for domestic programs and homeland security that is subject to Congress's annual discretion.

    But the cuts are politically sensitive, targeting popular programs that Bush has been touting on the campaign trail. The Education Department; a nutrition program for women, infants and children; Head Start; and homeownership, job-training, medical research and science programs all face cuts in 2006.


    The administration has widely touted a $1.7 billion increase in discretionary funding for the Education Department in its 2005 budget, but the 2006 guidance would pare that back by $1.5 billion. The Department of Veterans Affairs is scheduled to get a $519 million spending increase in 2005, to $29.7 billion, and a $910 million cut in 2006 that would bring its budget below the 2004 level.

    Also slated for cuts are the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Small Business Administration, the Transportation Department, the Social Security Administration, the Interior Department and the Army Corps of Engineers.

    Given OMB's guidance, it's easy to see why NSF's Arden Bement was less than enthusiastic about future funding levels for his agency. The memo also apparently includes a proposed cut of 2.1 percent to the National Institutes of Health....

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 10:32 AM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    April 28, 2004

    Perspectives on Bush Administration and S&T Funding

    (from The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science Policy News
    Number 55: April 28, 2004)

    long, but interesting

    Two Perspectives: the Bush Administration and S&T Funding

    "Science policy entails more than setting budgets, but that is a
    major bottom line of the policy process."- OSTP Director John

    Last week's 29th Annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy
    opened with two divergent views of the Bush Administration's funding
    of science and technology. The keynote speaker was John Marburger,
    Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology
    Policy. He was followed by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle
    (D-SC). While the speakers agreed on the importance of science and
    technology to the nation, they had different perspectives on the
    Administration's funding of science and technology. Selections
    from their addresses on funding issues follow. Several other issues
    were discussed; the full text of their remarks (with a series of
    charts that Marburger referred to in his presentation) can be
    accessed here

    In viewing the recent funding of federal science and technology,
    the often-repeated phrase is relevant: "The President proposes, and
    the Congress disposes." As Marburger stated, "I do want to
    acknowledge that Congress has treated science well in its
    appropriations . . . ."


    "President Bush has made it abundantly clear that his budget
    priorities have been to protect the nation, secure the homeland, and
    revitalize the economy. His budget proposals to Congress are in line
    with vigorous actions in each category. Increases in expenditures
    for homeland security, in particular have dominated changes in the
    discretionary budget during this Administration, and we have seen
    the emergence of a significant new science and technology agency
    within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The current budget
    proposal for the DHS Science and Technology function is $1.2
    billion, with an estimated total of $3.6 billion in homeland
    security related R&D in all agencies. The science and engineering
    communities exerted a significant influence on the structure of the
    new department, particularly through the National Research Council
    report 'Making the Nation Safer.'

    "Each of the three overarching Presidential priorities has strong
    science and technology components. The President has sought, and
    Congress has appropriated, substantial increases in Research and
    Development budgets not only for homeland security, but also for
    defense and for key areas of science and technology related to long
    term economic strength."

    "R&D expenditures in this Administration are up 44% over the past
    four years to a record $132 billion proposed for 2005 compared to
    $91 billion in FY 2001, and the non-defense share is up 26%. The
    President's FY2005 Federal R&D budget request is the greatest share
    of GDP in over 10 years, and its share of the domestic discretionary
    budget, at 13.5% is the highest level in 37 years. Non-defense R&D
    funding is the highest percentage of GDP since 1982. Total U.S. R&D
    expenditures, including the private sector was at 2.65% of GDP in
    2002, the most recent year for which I have data. I suspect it is
    above that today. Its historical high was 2.87% in 1964 as NASA was
    ramping up for the Apollo program."

    "The FY 2005 request commits 5.7% of total discretionary outlays to
    non-defense R&D, the third highest level in the past 25 years.

    "While the President has proposed to reduce the overall growth in
    non-defense, non-homeland security spending to 0.5% this year to
    address overall budget pressures, his budget expresses a commitment
    to "non-security" science with a considerably higher growth rate at

    "During the current Administration, funding for basic research has
    increased 26% to an all-time high of $26.8 billion in the FY 2005
    budget request."

    "What Congress will do with the Presidential requests for science .
    .. . is at this point an open question. I do want to acknowledge that
    Congress has treated science well in its appropriations, and the
    good figures for science during this Administration represent a
    strong consensus between the Legislative and Executive branches that
    science is important to our nation's future.

    "As I emphasized in 2002, priorities for these large expenditures
    respond to two important phenomena that have shaped the course of
    society and are affecting the relationship of society to science,
    namely the rapid growth of technology, particularly information
    technology, as the basis for a global economy, and the emergence of
    terrorism as a destabilizing movement of global consequence."
    Later, in a section entitled "Priority Highlights," Marburger cited
    the following:

    Health Sciences "Funding during these four years to NIH has
    increased more than 40%, to $28.6 billion. In response to this
    unprecedented National commitment, NIH as a whole has adopted an
    important new roadmap for transforming new knowledge from its
    research programs into tangible benefits for society. Emerging
    interdisciplinary issues such as nutrition and aging together with
    revolutionary capabilities for understanding the molecular origins
    of disease, health, and biological function will continue to drive
    change within NIH.

    National Science Foundation " In four years the NSF budget has
    increased 30% over FY 2001 to $5.7 billion. Much of this funding has
    gone to enhance the physical sciences and mathematics programs,
    where advances often provide the foundation for achievements in
    other areas, as well as increases to the social sciences and to the
    NSF education programs.

    "NASA has increased 13%, largely for exploration science that will
    spur new discoveries, enhance technology development, and excite the
    next generation of scientists and engineers."

    "DOE Science and technology programs have increased 10%, in such
    important areas as basic physical science and advanced computing. As
    the agency sponsoring the largest share of physical science, DOE's
    Office of Science is increasingly viewed as a high leverage area for
    investment. DOE has engaged in years of intense planning,
    culminating recently in a multi-year facilities roadmap that assigns
    specific priorities to a spectrum of new projects.

    Energy and Environment "This Administration is investing heavily
    in technologies for producing and using energy in environmentally
    friendly ways, from shorter term demonstration projects for
    carbon-free power plants, to the very long term promise of nuclear
    fusion for clean, scalable power generation. In the intermediate
    term, technologies associated with the use of hydrogen as a medium
    for energy transport and storage are receiving a great deal of
    attention, not only in the U.S. but internationally. The President's
    Hydrogen Fuel initiative is a $1.2 billion, five-year program aimed
    at developing the fuel cell and hydrogen infrastructure technologies
    needed to make pollution-free hydrogen fuel cell cars widely
    available by 2020."


    "Regrettably, rather than strengthening this [government - science]
    partnership, I fear that the Bush Administration has allowed it to
    erode in two critical ways. First, the Administration is abdicating
    its responsibility to provide scientists with the funding
    cutting-edge research demands. As you know, the federal government
    has seen its R&D investments steadily decline as a share of the U.S.
    economy, bringing the federal investment down to levels not seen
    since the mid-60s. Public-sector investments in advanced research
    have declined sharply, relative to our economic growth rate, and
    barely kept pace with inflation. This year, federal funding for
    research is set to increase 4.7 percent. However, the entire
    increase would go to the Departments of Defense and Homeland
    Security for the development of weapons systems and counterterrorism
    technology. Make no mistake, these are necessary investments that
    will make our nation safer. But the remaining federal R&D budget
    that supports research into health, environmental, biological, and
    other sciences, will all see funding reduced.

    "In my home state of South Dakota, for instance, the Earth Research
    Observation System is facing the possibility of deep cuts in staff
    due to cuts to their budget. Their work helps us become more
    responsible stewards of the environment, while increasing the yields
    of farmers all over the world. And yet, this work is endangered due
    to draconian budget cuts."

    "But we should be honest with ourselves. Outside the scientific
    community, there is no hue and cry for more government funding of
    R&D . There is no widespread public outrage when the Administration
    disregards the unequivocal judgment of the scientific community. And
    it's unlikely that the science gap growing between the United States
    and other developed nations will become a major issue in the
    upcoming Presidential campaign.

    "This represents a failure on our part. We have not done enough to
    show the American people the connection between the work underway in
    your laboratories and the problems that affect their lives. This
    must change. The stakes simply could not be higher. What future
    challenge will we fail to meet because America's scientists were not
    given the tools they need to discover new answers to old questions?
    When rumors of a Nazi bomb program reached President Roosevelt, he
    said simply, 'Whatever the enemy may be planning, American science
    will be equal to the challenge.' Will future presidents be able to
    speak with such confidence?"

    Posted by AndyBernat at 05:48 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    April 21, 2004

    Blogging on the Fly -- Intel's CEO Urges for More Basic Research Funding

    I'm currently enjoying the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference, but thought I'd quickly point out a story in Tech Daily (subscription required), about Intel CEO Craig Barrett's comments as part of the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation event on the Hill yesterday. Here are some of the choice bits:

    As Intel CEO Craig Barrett announced a joint task force of technology companies and academia that favors more government funding of basic research, on Tuesday he criticized U.S. budget priorities and called on policymakers to "make investments in the 21st century."

    While emphasizing that the task force's mission is not about "physical research versus agricultural subsidies," Barrett took exception to the $30 billion in annual agriculture subsidies appropriated by Congress. He also said some of the $250 billion in the transportation bill pending before Congress would be better spent on physicists and engineers than roads and bridges.

    "It's a choice between a bridge to an island or a bridge to the future," Barrett said at a news conference. He said the huge sums appropriated in such bills represent "an investment in the industries of the 19th century."


    Noting that funding for basic research has remained flat in inflation-adjusted dollars and cut by 37 percent as a share of gross domestic product over the past 30 years, the task force said such a trend will have dire consequences for American economic growth, global stability and prosperity.

    They noted that technologies like the World Wide Web, fiber optics and magnetic resonance imaging all originated as basic research projects. Funding of such work at U.S. universities helped launch thousands of spin-off companies, employed hundreds of thousands of workers and generated billions of dollars in sales, the task force concluded.

    The semiconductor industry alone had global sales of $166 billion last year, the task force stated.

    The San Francisco Chronicle also has the story.

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 12:49 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    April 05, 2004

    CRA, USACM Urge Support for NIST Labs

    In response to the dire funding situation for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Labs program in FY 2004 and beyond, CRA and US ACM's Public Policy Committee have joined in a letter to leaders in Congress calling for increased support in the FY 2005 appropriations process.

    Among the labs most likely impacted by the cuts -- cuts enacted as part of the FY 2004 Omnibus Appropriations bill passed in January -- is NIST's Computer Security Division, which has played a historic role in computer security by conducting security research on emerging technologies, promoting security assessment techniques, providing security management and guidance, and facilitating a greater awareness of the need for security.

    The extended entry below has the full letter, or you can download a PDF version here (335k).


    March 31, 2004

    The Honorable J. Dennis Hastert
    Speaker of the House
    U.S. House of Representatives
    Washington, DC 20510

    Dear Mr. Speaker:

    As representatives of two leading computing societies together representing more than 200 computing research institutions and over 85,000 computing professionals, we write to express our great concern with the current funding level for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Laboratory Program, and to urge you to support efforts to fund the program at the President's requested level of $422 million for FY 2005.

    The NIST Labs have played an important role in the progress of computing research - research that has, in turn, enabled the new economy. Advances in information technology have led to significant improvements in product design, development and distribution for American industry, provided instant communications for people worldwide, and enabled new scientific disciplines like bioinformatics and nanotechnology that show great promise in improving a whole range of health and communications technologies.

    Within NIST's Labs, the Computer Security Division (CSD) has played a historic role in computer security by conducting security research on emerging technologies, promoting security assessment techniques, providing security management guidance, and facilitating a greater awareness of the need for security. In particular, the CSD has demonstrated NIST's ability to blend science and technology with commerce by working in partnership with industry and the cryptographic community to develop an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). The CSD's work on AES and its numerous other contributions have been good for the U.S. government, information technology industry, research enterprise, and the overall security of the Internet.

    Current work underway at the NIST Labs will have important impact in cybersecurity and voting technologies, semiconductor manufacturing, and nanotechnology research that could help unlock future advancements in computing. Unfortunately, this work and the successful efforts to recruit a core of talented researchers are in jeopardy as a result of funding levels enacted as part of the FY 2004 appropriations process. The President's request of $422 million for FY 2005 represents the minimum increase required - only enough to cover the cuts Congress imposed last year. To avoid jeopardizing NIST's ability to produce materials trusted by the community, impairing its ability to conduct research, and detracting from some of its vital standards-orientated work, we urge you to make this funding a priority for FY 2005.

    The Computing Research Association (CRA) and the U.S. Public Policy Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery (USACM) stand ready to assist you address this important issue. We appreciate your continued support for research and development funding and would be happy to answer any questions you or your staff might have.


    James D. Foley, PhD
    Chair, CRA

    Barbara Simons, PhD
    Eugene H. Spafford, PhD
    Co-Chairs, US ACM Public Policy Committee (USACM)
    Association for Computing Machinery

    Posted by PeterHarsha at 03:36 PM | TrackBack
    Posted to Funding

    March 31, 2004

    CRA Analysis of Computing Research in the FY 2005 Budget Request

    As part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual review of R&D in the President's Budget Request, CRA provides an analysis of computing research in the request. This is essentially a look at the current status of the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development initiative -- the government-wide program that encompasses all federal IT R&D activities. In short, the President's request would keep things pretty steady-state. A slight decline in overall funding -- made up of slight increases at some agencies, and slight declines in other. But the overall funding requested still falls well short of the amount recommended by the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) when they did their last comprehensive review of federal IT R&D funding back in 1999.

    Here are the highlights from the report:

  • Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) funding would fall 0.7 percent in FY 2005 to $2.00 billion across eleven federal agencies, under the President’s budget request.

  • The President's request would increase funding for computing research at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the lead agency in the NITRD initiative, to $761 million in FY 2005, an increase of 0.9 percent.

  • Concerns about interagency coordination of large-scale "cyberinfrastructure" investments in FY 2005 will likely lead to greater congressional oversight of NITRD programs in 2004.
  • Read on to get the full scoop...

    Computing Research in the FY 2005 Budget Request
    Peter Harsha
    Computing Research Association (CRA)


  • Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) funding would fall 0.7 percent in FY 2005 to $2.00 billion across eleven federal agencies, under the President’s budget request.

  • The President's request would increase funding for computing research at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the lead agency in the NITRD initiative, to $761 million in FY 2005, an increase of 0.9 percent.

  • Concerns about interagency coordination of large-scale "cyberinfrastructure" investments in FY 2005 will likely lead to greater congressional oversight of NITRD programs in 2004.

    Introduction and Background

    The importance of computing research in enabling the new economy is well documented. The resulting advances in information technology have led to significant improvements in product design, development and distribution for American industry, provided instant communications for people worldwide, and enabled new scientific disciplines like bioinformatics and nanotechnology that show great promise in improving a whole range of health, security, and communications technologies. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan has said that the growing use of information technology has been the distinguishing feature of this "pivotal period in American economic history." Recent analysis suggests that the remarkable growth the U.S. experienced between 1995 and 2000 was spurred by an increase in productivity enabled almost completely by factors related to IT. "IT drove the U.S. productivity revival [from 1995-2000]," according to Harvard economist Dale Jorgenson.

    Information technology has also changed the conduct of research. Innovations in computing and networking technologies are enabling scientific discovery across every scientific discipline – from mapping the human brain to modeling climatic change. Researchers, faced with research problems that are ever more complex and interdisciplinary in nature, are using IT to collaborate across the globe, visualize large and complex datasets, and collect and manage massive amounts of data.

    A significant reason for this dramatic advance in computing technology and the subsequent increase in innovation and productivity is the "extraordinarily productive interplay of federally funded university research, federally and privately funded industrial research, and entrepreneurial companies founded and staffed by people who moved back and forth between universities and industry," according a 1995 report by the National Research Council. That report, and a subsequent 1999 report by the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), emphasized the "spectacular" return on the federal investment in long-term IT research and development.

    However, in that 1999 report PITAC – a congressionally-chartered, presidentially-appointed committee charged with assessing the overall federal investment in IT R&D – also determined that federal support for IT R&D was inadequate and too focused on near-term problems; long-term fundamental IT research was not sufficiently supported relative to the importance of IT to the United States' economic, health, scientific and other aspirations; critical problems in computing were going unsolved; and the rate of introduction of new ideas was dangerously low. The PITAC report included a series of recommendations, including a set of research priorities and an affirmation of the committee's unanimous opinion that the federal government has an "essent