11 August 1998
Source: http://www.usia.gov/current/news/latest/98081004.glt.html?/products/washfile/newsitem.shtml

USIS Washington File

10 August 1998


(Report urges more funding for information innovations) (680)

Washington -- A White House advisory committee has recommended
government steps to strengthen U.S. leadership in information
technology, including increased support for research.

The report of the President's Information Technology Advisory
Committee (PITAC) -- whose membership includes many of the nation's
top computing and communications experts -- calls for expanded
government investments in long-term research and development in
technologies such as computers, networks, and software.

Such investments drive economic growth, generate new knowledge, create
new jobs, build new industries, ensure national security, protect the
environment, and improve the health and quality of life, the White
House noted.

In accepting the report August 10, President Clinton renewed his
commitment to make significant increases in computing and
communications research in the years ahead.

"Our nation's economic future and the welfare of our citizens depend
on continued advances and innovation in the information technologies
which have produced so many remarkable developments in science,
engineering, medicine, business, and education," the president said in
a letter to the committee.

Vice President Gore, author of the High Performance Computing Act of
1991 and long-time supporter of the "information superhighway," also
voiced his support for research in information technology.

"Information technology can be a powerful tool for achieving many of
our most important national objectives," the vice president said in a
White House statement, "such as creating jobs and growing our economy,
providing our children with a world-class education, expanding access
to high-quality health care in rural America, and strengthening our
national security."

The PITAC report notes that "...the evidence is unequivocal: growth in
today's information technology (IT) sector vastly outstrips the
current growth of all other sectors of the economy. The Federal
Reserve reports that during the past five years production in
computers, semiconductors, and communications equipment quadrupled at
a time when total industrial production grew by 28 percent. These
three industries account for one-third of the total growth in
production since 1992. As we approach the 21st century, the
opportunities for innovation in IT are larger than they ever have been
-- and more important."

In June 1998, President Clinton asked Dr. Neal Lane, his science
advisor, to prepare a detailed plan on computing and communications
research. He has directed Dr. Lane to work with the U.S. scientific
community and to carefully consider the new research directions
identified in the committee's report.

The committee stressed the importance of Clinton administration
initiatives in computing and communications such as the Next
Generation Internet, the Department of Energy's DOE 2000 distributed
computing program, and the National Science Foundation's Knowledge and
Distributed Intelligence emphasis. This year, President Clinton has
proposed record increases for civilian research and development in
science and technology.

Recognizing the critical role that Federal research has played in
developing modern computing, the Internet, and other Information Age
technologies, the committee urged the president to ensure that this
momentum is maintained.

The committee urged sharply increased support for basic research,
giving highest priority to research on computer software. It also
stressed the importance of allowing the research community to "live in
the future" and tackle long-term high-risk research challenges.

Specifically, the committee recommend emphasis be placed on:

-- Techniques for developing software that is more dependable and

-- Communication systems which will be able to support billions of
users and devices that are attached to the network;

-- High-speed computers and software that can deliver useful
performance that is a thousand times faster than today's most powerful
super computers; and

-- Research that ensures that America's workforce is properly prepared
for the challenges and opportunities of the Information Age.

Reacting to the report, Dr. Lane said that "breathtaking advances" in
information technologies means that "research priorities need to be
redefined to take advantage of new opportunities."

A copy of the committee's report is available on the World Wide Web at