Spend More, Panel Says
The federal budget says the U.S. is spending more than $4 billion a year on networking and information technology research, but the actual amount is less than that — and less than what they country needs, says a new report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).
The report, written by a working group that included School of Computer Science Dean Randal E. Bryant, found that a substantial fraction of the funding for the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) program is spent on IT products and infrastructure expansion in support of research in other fields. Those investments are valuable, the authors noted, but they siphon off money from early-stage, innovative work that will be crucial to addressing critical challenges in the future.
The report, "Designing a Digital Future: Federally Funded Research and Development in Networking and Information Technology," calls for an added NITRD investment of $1 billion a year to maintain momentum in the field.
High-performance computing (HPC) is critical for national security and economic competitiveness, but money for procuring supercomputers must not displace support for fundamental research on game-changing HPC technologies of the future, according to the report. Other important goals include improvements in large-scale data analysis, development of robotic sensors, robust approaches to protecting the cyber-infrastructure and making human-computer interactions more seamless. Fundamental changes in K-12 education and an increase in college graduates in NIT fields will be necessary to meet the workforce demand.
The report, released Dec. 16, is available online, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/pcast-nitrd-report-2010.pdf.