Congress to Probe the State of IT R&D Funding

This Thursday (May 12) at 10:00 a.m. EDT the House Science Committee will review the current landscape of the federal government’s commitment to IT R&D funding and its implications for the future.

The hearing is titled “The Future of Computer Science Research in the U.S.,” and the witnesses are:

  • Dr. John H. Marburger III, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President;
  • Dr. Anthony J. Tether, Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency;
  • Dr. Wm. A. Wulf, President, National Academy of Engineering; and
  • Dr. Tom Leighton, Chief Scientist and co-founder, Akamai Technologies, and member of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee

The committee webcasts all of its hearings (www.house.gov/science), and I recommend watching as this is the first hearing to delve into many of the issues the community and the media have discussed over the past few years.

Over the past couple of months there has been an amazing deluge of articles about how the federal government’s commitment to IT R&D funding has changed and what that means for the future of the industry and American competitiveness. (Peter at the Computing Research Association (CRA) has done a wonderful job of cataloging them and discussing their impact.) The catalyst for all this recent attention seems to have been an article in the New York Times by John Markoff about the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) shift from away from funding unclassified university-based projects. Then Tom Friedman weighed in with a new book and an editorial in the New York Times about the broader issue that the U.S. is undermining its long-term competitiveness by not investing enough in basic research (among other things). This coupled with general concern by the community about the state of IT R&D funding across the entire federal government, led to much more media attention and this hearing.

For more information, I strongly recommend that readers review CRA’s blog for detailed coverage of the issue. I’m sure that Peter will give us a report once the hearing wraps up.

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