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In the News...

Congressional Budget Delay Stymies Scientific Research, New York Times, January 7, 2007
Invest more now, Washington Times, January 17, 2007

Recent Press Coverage of IT R&D

  • January 27, 2005: UC Berkeley News: Berkeleyan, Barry Bergman, "Research under fire: In the war on terror, academic freedom could wind up as collateral damage."
  • April 2, 2005: New York Times, John Markoff, "Pentagon Redirects Its Research Dollars"
  • April 10, 2005: Washington Post, Rick Weiss, "Our Incredible Shrinking Curiosity"
  • April 13, 2005: New York Times, John M. Deutch and William H. Perry, "Research Worth Fighting For"
  • April 15, 2005: New York Times, Tom Friedman, "Bush Disarms, Unilaterally"
  • April 17, 2005: San Jose Mercury News, Editorial, "Quiet change in priorities poses dire threat"
  • April 17, 2005: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Editorial, "Investing in Research: A lose-lose deal"
  • April 20, 2005: Roll Call, Norman J. Ornstein, "Bad Policy Choices Are Worrisome for U.S. Economy's Future"
  • April 25, 2005: Roll Call, Morton M. Kondracke, "Congress Must Increase Bush's Science Budget" (paid subscription req'd) -- coverage of the article on CRA's Computing Research Policy Blog
  • April 2005: Communications of the ACM, David Patterson, "President's Letter: The State of Funding for New Initiatives in Computer Science and Engineering"
  • May 6, 2005: Science, Edward Lazowska and David Patterson, "An Endless Frontier Postponed" -- Coverage of the article on CRA's Computing Research Policy Blog
  • May 6, 2005: Los Angeles Times, Editorial, "The Imagination Drain"
  • May 11, 2005: Business Week, Matthew Fordhal, "Scientists complain about Pentagon cuts"
  • June 2, 2005: New York Times, Editorial, "Virtually Unprotected"
  • July 27, 2005: Wall Street Journal, Vint Cerf and Harris Miller, "America Gasps for Breath in the R&D Marathon" (pdf)
  • August 2005: Communications of the ACM, Sanjeev Arora, Bernard Chazelle, "The Thrill is Gone?" (pdf)
  • August 23, 2005: New York Times, Steve Lohr, "A Techie, Absolutely, and More"
  • September 18, 2005: US News and World Report, Mort Zuckerman, "Investing in Tomorrow"
  • October 17, 2005: Washington Post, Sebastian Mallaby, "Ready for High-Tech Progress?" - Blog coverage
  • November 8, 2005: CNET, Marguuerite Reardon, "Research money crunch in the U.S."
  • November 10, 2005: EDN, Craig Barrett, "Sputnik, races, and the state of US education"
  • November 18, 2005: Business Week, Robert Hof, "Sillicon Valley's Call: Smarten Up America!"
  • December 18, 2005: Boston Globe, Marcella Bombardieri, "In computer science, a growing gender gap"
  • January 13, 2006: Chronicle of Higher Education, Scott Carlson, "Wanted: Female Computer-Science Students"
  • February 28, 2006: Wall Street Journal, Pui-Wing Tam, "Market Is Hot For High-Skilled In Silicon Valley"
  • April 21, 2006: San Francisco Chronicle, Tom Abate, "Talking tough on tech: President in Silicon Valley today to tout competitiveness"
  • May 1, 2006: Computerworld, Gary Anthes, "Computer Science Looks for a Remake"
  • May 1, 2006: Federal Computer Week, 'Aliya Sternstein, "Cybersecurity research plan identifies threats"
  • October 31, 2006: New York Times, Steve Lohr, "Computing 2016: What Won't Be Possible?"
  • November 13, 2006: Washington Technology, Education, developing workers top IT company concerns
  • November 20, 2006:, Democratic leaders vow to focus on research
  • More from the Computing Research Policy Blog.
  • Joint statement of the computing research community for the House Science Committee hearing The Future of Computer Science Research in the U.S.
  • The Case for Information Technology R&D - Short Version and Longer Version
  • Defense Science Board report cites DARPA's changed role as problematic for DOD.
  • The Current Funding Situation - Last updated April 25, 2005.
  • Trends in IT R&D Funding
  • IT R&D FAQs
  • Additional Resources

  • The Case for Information Technology R&D

    Short version, taken from former CRA Chair, and current CRA Government Affairs Committee Co-Chair Ed Lazowska's testimony before the House Government Reform Committee on July 7, 2004: [A printable version of these bullet points is available here (pdf, 3.4 mb)]

    • Advances in information technology (IT) are changing our lives, driving our economy, and transforming the conduct of science.
    • America is the world leader in IT innovation because of a complex interplay of universities, industry, and the federal government.
    • Essentially every aspect of IT upon which we rely today - every billion-dollar sub-category of the IT industry - bears the clear stamp of federally-supported university-based research. These relatively modest investments have played an essential role in the past, and will play an essential role in the future. [figure 1]
    • Don't confuse the IT industry's research and development (R&D) expenditures with fundamental research that's guiding our way to the future. The vast majority of corporate R&D in IT - far more than 95% - involves the engineering of the next version of the product. This "development" is essential. But the transforming ideas - and our nation's long-term leadership - come from research. IT companies do very little of that. It is a natural and essential role of government to support fundamental research - R&D that looks out 5, 10, or 15 years, rather than just one product cycle.
    • An important aspect of federally-supported university-based research is that it produces people, as well as ideas. There is a huge projected shortfall in IT workers over the next 10 years - the vast majority of the entire projected workforce shortfall in all of science and engineering is in information technology. And these are jobs that require a Bachelors-level education or greater. [figure 2]
    • While the overall federal investment in research has been increasing over the past 30 years, the vast majority of this increase has been in the biomedical fields. Compared to that, all other fields have been flat-lined. [figure 3]
    • Recent increases in federal support for IT research, while important, have fallen far short of the level recommended by PITAC in 1999. The overall level of support continues to be dangerously inadequate in the context of the importance of the field and the opportunity for further advances. [figure 4]
    • While many federal agencies are engaged in supporting IT R&D, two of these agencies have played by far the dominant role in driving IT innovation over the past 50 years: NSF and DARPA. No other agencies come close.
    • The research community has significant concerns about the continued low level of funding for the CISE Directorate at NSF. Additionally, the research community has significant concerns about several aspects of DARPA's programs that discourage university participation in defense-related IT research.
    • There are additional concerns about the Department of Homeland Security's failure to invest in cybersecurity R&D. Of DHS's new R&D budget of nearly $1 billion, less than 2% is being invested in cybersecurity R&D. And even this shockingly low level of investment was the result of a Congressional outcry - DHS initially proposed less than 1%. IT systems constitute the "control loop" of most other elements of our nation's critical infrastructure (e.g., the electric power grid, the air traffic control grid, the financial grid, the telecommunications grid), and constitute a significant vulnerability.
    • The track record is clear: the relatively modest federal IT R&D investment pays enormous dividends: changing our lives, driving our economy, and transforming the conduct of science.
    Longer version - taken from Ed Lazowska's written testimony at the July 7, 2004, Government Reform Committee hearing. The full version is available here (pdf, 1.8 MB):
    The importance of computing research in enabling the new economy is well documented. The resulting advances in information technology have led to significant improvements in product design, development and distribution for American industry, provided instant communications for people worldwide, and enabled new scientific disciplines like bioinformatics and nanotechnology that show great promise in improving a whole range of health, security, and communications technologies. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan has said that the growing use of information technology has been the distinguishing feature of this "pivotal period in American economic history." Recent analysis suggests that the remarkable growth the U.S. experienced between 1995 and 2000 was spurred by an increase in productivity enabled almost completely by factors related to IT. "IT drove the U.S. productivity revival [from 1995-2000]," according to Harvard economist Dale Jorgenson.

    Information technology has also changed the conduct of research. Innovations in computing and networking technologies are enabling scientific discovery across every scientific discipline -- from mapping the human brain to modeling climatic change. Researchers, faced with research problems that are ever more complex and interdisciplinary in nature, are using IT to collaborate across the globe, visualize large and complex datasets, and collect and manage massive amounts of data.

    The Ecosystem that Gives Birth to New Technologies

    A significant reason for this dramatic advance in computing technology and the subsequent increase in innovation and productivity is the "extraordinarily productive interplay of federally funded university research, federally and privately funded industrial research, and entrepreneurial companies founded and staffed by people who moved back and forth between universities and industry," according a 1995 report by the National Research Council. That report, and a subsequent 1999 report by the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), emphasized the "spectacular" return on the federal investment in long-term IT research and development.

    ...Read it all here.

    Defense Science Board on Future Technology Development in Microprocessors

    In February 2005, the Defense Department's Defense Science Board -- an independent advisory committee comprised of researchers from academia, government, and industry -- released an examination of the microelectronics industry, which provides hardware capability that "underlies much of America's modern military leadership technology." Part of that examination involved a review of DOD's research efforts in the space to determine if the Department is doing what it can to "secure continued 'Moore's Law' improvements in processing capacity that will enable it to maximize the advantages inherent in its superior sources of information and the superiority of the algortihms and networks that are used to process and benefit from them." What they found is that changes in emphasis at DARPA have impacted DOD-related research long-term:

    Historically, the rapid rate of growth in U.S. microchip capability resulted from a robust national portfolio of long-term research that incorporated both incremental and revolutionary components. Industry excelled in evolutionary technology developments that resulted in reduced costs, higher quality and reliability and vastly improved performance. DOD now is no longer perceived as being seriously involved in -- or even taking steps to ensure that others are conducting -- research to enable the embedded processing proficiency on which its strategic advantage depends. This withdrawal has created a vacuum where no part of the U.S. government is able to exert leadership, especially with respect to the revolutionary component of the research portfolio.

    This development is partly explained by historic circumstances. Since World War II, the DOD has been the primary supporter of research in university Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) departments, with NSF contributing some funds towards basic research. From the early 1960's through the 1980's, one tremendously successful aspect of the DOD's funding in the information technology space came from DARPA's unique approach to the funding of Applied Research (6.2 funding), which hybridized university and industry research through a process that envisioned revolutionary new capabilities, identified barriers to their realization, focused the best minds in the field on new approaches to overcome those barriers and fostered rapid commercialization and DOD adoption. The hybridization of university and industry researchers was a crucial element; it kept the best and the brightest in the university sector well informed of defense issues and the university researchers acted as useful "prods" to the defense contractors, making it impossible for them to dismiss revolutionary concepts whose feasibility was demonstrated by university-based 6.2 efforts that produced convincing "proof of concept" prototypes. As EECS grew in scale and its scope extended beyond DOD applications, a "success disaster" ensued in that EECS essentially "outgrew" the ability of the DOD to be its primary source of directional influence, let alone funding. Furthermore, DOD never developed a strategy to deal with this transition. With pressures to fund developments are unique to the Defense (e.g., military aircraft, tanks, artillery, etc.), the DOD withdrew its EECS research leadership. Recently, DARPA has further limited university participation, especially as prime contractors, in its Computer Science 6.2 programs, which were by far its most significant investments in university research (vastly outstripping 6.1 funding). These limitations have come in a number of ways, including non-fiscal limitations, such as the classification of work in areas that were previously unclassified, precluding university submission as prime contractors on certain solicitations, and reducing the periods of performance to 18-24 months.

    -High Performance Microchip Supply, Defense Science Board, February 2005, Appendix D, p. 87-88

    The entire report is available here (pdf).

    Or, you can also download just Appendix D here (pdf).

    Current IT R&D Funding Situation***:

    Networking and Information Technology R&D
    (budget authority in millions)
    $ Change
    FY10 v FY11
    % Change
    FY10 v FY11
    Defense $1278 $1107 -$171 -13%
    National Science Foundation $1091 $1171 $80 7%
    HHS* (primarily NIH) $986 $1019 $33 3%
    Energy $495 $524 $29 6%
    Commerce** $104 $119 $15 15%
    NASA $82 $82 $0 0%
    EPA $6 $6 $0 0%
    Total $4042 $4028 $-14 -0.3%

    * primarily the National Institutes of Health
    ** NIST and NOAA
    ***These numbers are from the NITRD Supplement to the President's Budget. As of FY06 OMB changed the baseline numbers used to track the NITRD programs to include DOD service labs and DOD High Performance Computing Modernization Office funding which were not included in the past. This makes year-to-year historical comparisons of DOD IT funding nearly impossible but this is how it will be calculated going forward.

    Trends in IT R&D Funding

    Trends in IT R&D Funding
    This chart represents the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) "crosscut" in the federal R&D budget. One caveat to keep in mind while viewing the chart is that the numbers from which the chart is derived are "as reported" by each agency each year -- no inflation or deflation calculations have been used to adjust the numbers. Because the agencies self-report these numbers, and because whether a program constitutes "IT R&D" is often in the eye of the beholder, there is some fluctuation from year to year as programs get moved in and out of the IT R&D line. This is especially apparent in the funding for Energy IT R&D programs.

    The Defense Deparment is a different case.

    IT R&D Frequently Asked Questions

    Additional Resources:

    Useful Graphs and Charts

    Figure 1
    CSTB "Tire Tracks" Chart
    Enlarge - PDF (2.0 mb)

    Figure 2
    Federal Funding of Basic and Applied R&D
    Enlarge - JPG (48k)

    Figure 3
    Federal Funding of Basic and Applied R&D by Agency

    Figure 4
    Funding Trends by Agency

    Figure 5
    Federal IT R&D Funding by Agency

    Figure 6
    FY 2009 ARRA IT R&D Funding by Agency
    Enlarge - PDF (87k)

    Figure 7
    IT R&D FY09 Plan, FY10 Request for NSF

    Figure 8
    IT R&D FY09 Plan, FY10 Request

    Figure 9
    Funding Rate in CISE
    Enlarge - PDF (88k)

    Figure 10
    Funding Rates in NSF & CISE
    Enlarge - PDF (100k)