ACM Releases Major Report on the Globalization of Software

After more than year of study, today ACM released its report (press release below, .pdf is here) examining issues surrounding the migration of jobs within the computing and information technology field. It found that, despite the media drumbeat on offshoring, that the demand for IT jobs remains strong. However, that doesn’t mean countries can be complacent. The study also found that global competition is fierce and growing, offshoring and globalization will continue to be part of corporate strategies, and if countries want to compete in this marketplace they must adopt strategies that attract, educate, and retain the best IT talent. Here is an excerpt from the New York Times article this morning:

“The global competition has gotten tougher and we have to run faster,” said Moshe Y. Vardi, co-chair of the study group and a computer scientist at Rice University. “But the notion that information technology jobs are disappearing is just nonsense. The data don’t bear that out.”

Yet the view that job opportunities in computing are dwindling fast is both common and potentially damaging to America’s competitive prowess, according to David A. Patterson, president of the Association for Computing Machinery.

He pointed to the declining interest in computer science as a major among American college students, based on a survey last year of the intentions of students entering college. The results suggested that only 1 in 75 students would major in computer science, compared with 1 in 30 in 2000.

“The perception among high school students and their parents is that the game is over — that all computing jobs are going overseas,” observed Mr. Patterson, who is a computer science professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “It’s an extraordinarily widely held misperception.”

The concern, he said, is that misplaced pessimism will deter bright young people from pursuing careers in computing. That, in turn, would erode the skills in a field that is crucial to the nation’s economic competitiveness.”

In fact, it is this fierce global competition that is helping drive President Bush’s American Competitive Initiative and many Congressional initiatives.

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USACM Releases Major Study on Voter Registration Databases

Update 2/17/06: Declan McCullagh wrote a nice story about the study for CNET News.com.

Original Post 2/16/06: Citing the danger of voter fraud and disenfranchisement from poorly implemented databases, a committee of experts commissioned by USACM released a report today making almost 100 recommendations to state and local officials charged with creating and managing statewide voter registration databases (VRDs). The report is a comprehensive “soup-to-nuts” look at challenges elections officials face in making sure databases are accurate, private, usable, secure, and reliable.

The report responds to the mandate passed by Congress in the Help America Vote Act that all states create and manage statewide VRDs. The committee wanted to give objective technical advice to elections officials on the many challenges they will face in meeting this mandate. The report has been about a year in the making, and we’ve covered some of the work of this group on the weblog (1, 2) including comments they filed with the Election Assistance Commission about this issue.

The press release on the report is below (and a .pdf is here), and here is a link to the page hosting the report.

The policy office personally wants to thank the study committee members for their hard work on this report.  Each took time from his or her regular life to scope out the issues and then write a very detailed and comprehensive report.
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“Competitiveness” Policy Takes Partisan Turn in the House

Over the past couple of weeks I have covered (1,2) President Bush’s American Competitiveness Initiative. By and large, the response to this plan was bipartisan because he was embracing ideas that already had bipartisan champions in the Senate and were broadly supported by industry and the academic community. The House is another matter.

Continue reading ““Competitiveness” Policy Takes Partisan Turn in the House”

"Competitiveness" Policy Takes Partisan Turn in the House

Over the past couple of weeks I have covered (1,2) President Bush’s American Competitiveness Initiative. By and large, the response to this plan was bipartisan because he was embracing ideas that already had bipartisan champions in the Senate and were broadly supported by industry and the academic community. The House is another matter.

Continue reading “"Competitiveness" Policy Takes Partisan Turn in the House”

Wash. Post: Feds To Mandate Windows for Government-wide Granting System

Update: Dave Schroeder from University of Wisconsin-Madison informs us that his university has developed a useful client for Mac users trying to navigate the system:

“The University of Wisconsin has released a standalone package for using Grants.gov on Mac OS X as a service to the community. The package uses Citrix client software and a special settings file to access the central Citrix server provided by Grants.gov, allowing users to access and use the PureEdge software via the remote Windows machine running Citrix server software:

http://apple.doit.wisc.edu/grants.gov/

Thanks Dave!

Originial Post:

“Widely used does not mean standard.”
–Eugene Spafford, Chair of USACM, during e-mail exchange with the author.

Today’s Washington Post has an article about the U.S. Federal Government’s move to put every single grant it offers under one roof called Grants.gov. Great idea, except for one thing — it is only compatible with Windows. Apparently this is because the managers of the program chose a vendor that only does work in Windows:

“But the promise of making Grants.gov accessible to everyone remains unfulfilled because of a decision by Grumman and HHS to give a small Canadian company called PureEdge Solutions the job of creating the electronic forms.

The PureEdge solution, it turns out, works only with the Windows operating system. And that is especially galling, several scientists said, as at least one major grant-making agency, the National Science Foundation, has for many years been using a “platform independent” system that works seamlessly with all kinds of computers.”

On the subject of NSF, all it will say is that for the “foreseeable future,” they will use both Grants.gov or the Agency’s existing system (FastLane Proposal Preparation and Submission), which isn’t platform specfic, to submit proposals to NSF. There aren’t any ironclad commitments for openness beyond that.

The article does say Grants.gov is “working” on making the system Mac compatible, but there is no mention of compatibility with other operating systems. Further, it mentions that users can try emulators or other workarounds. While either is a positive step, it still misses the mark by not designing a platform neutral system from the beginning. Also considering that our site gets hits from users using not only Windows and Mac operating systems, but also Linux and SunOS Unix, it would appear some of our blog readers would still be left in the cold.

A New Budget Season Begins As Last Year’s Finally Ends

The President has released his proposed budget, and taking a look at the research and development portion shows some winners (notably information technology research and development funding) and some losers (agriculture, environment, and transportation). Also, yesterday the President signed last year’s massive budget “reconciliation” bill, which ushers in the era of digital television and creates a substiantial new math and science student aid program. We take a look at both below:

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A New Budget Season Begins As Last Year's Finally Ends

The President has released his proposed budget, and taking a look at the research and development portion shows some winners (notably information technology research and development funding) and some losers (agriculture, environment, and transportation). Also, yesterday the President signed last year’s massive budget “reconciliation” bill, which ushers in the era of digital television and creates a substiantial new math and science student aid program. We take a look at both below:

Continue reading “A New Budget Season Begins As Last Year's Finally Ends”

Turing Award winner cautions Congress about Internet fast lanes

Members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee met this week for a hearing into so-called “Net Neutrality,” the range of issues surrounding whether or not telecommunications companies should be prevented from providing (for a price) faster speeds or better access for some (perhaps at the expense of others) or whether Congress should step in with legislation to require that all traffic flowing over network pipes be treated in the same neutral fashion. Neutrality supporters fear that creating “fast” lanes on the Internet for those willing to pay the price could stifle innovation by limiting the access of new companies or by creating an unfair advantage for larger companies able to pay the higher price for better access (or for the telcos themselves in offering their own services). Critics of the net neutrality idea, on the other hand, argue that enforcing neutrality through legislation will only limit their ability to innovate, invest in new networks, and bring new services and capabilities to consumers.

Witnesses appearing before the committee included recent Turing Award winner Vinton Cerf, now at Google Inc. and a long proponent of net neutrality. Other witnesses included Senator Ron Wyden (who announced that he’d shortly be introducing a bill to legislate net neutrality), Jeffrey Citron (Vonage), Lawrence Lessig (Stanford Law), Gregory Sidak (Georgetown Law), and Gary Bachula (Internet2). The full witness list with links to their written testimony is available here. A video archive of the hearing is also available here.
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ACM Washington Update, Vol. 10.1 (January 31, 2006)

CONTENTS

[1] Newsletter Highlights
[2] President Calls for Doubling of NSF and New Science and Math Education Programs
[3] USACM Urges Congress to Adopt a Broader View of Data Security, ChoicePoint Gets Hammered by the FTC
[4] Quest for More Information on NSA Spying Continues
[5] Senate Commerce Confronts Broadcast Flag Issue
[6] Sony BMG Settling “Rootkit” Cases
[7] Upcoming Events
[8] About USACM
Continue reading “ACM Washington Update, Vol. 10.1 (January 31, 2006)”