11 August 1998
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 reliable; -- 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 http://www.ccic.gov/ac/interim/.