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Information Technology for the Twenty-First Century:   A Bold Investment in America's Future
Overview
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Introduction
Fundamental Information Technology Research and Development
Advanced Computing for Science, Engineering, and the Nation
Social, Economic, and Workforce Implications of Information Technology Workforce Development
Management and Coordination
Time Line Summary


Introduction

With this Information Technology for the Twenty First Century (IT2) initiative, the Federal Government is making an important re-commitment to fundamental research in information technology. The IT2 initiative proposes $366 million in increased investments in computing, information, and communications research and development (R&D) to help expand the knowledge base in fundamental information science, advance the Nation's capabilities in cutting edge research, and train the next generation of researchers who will sustain the Information Revolution well into the 21st Century.
 
Leading-edge information technology, due to its enormous and profound socioeconomic benefits, has, seemingly in a few short years, become critical to our Nation's continued well-being and prosperity. Information technology is also changing the way we live, work, learn, and communicate with each other. For example, advances in information technology can improve the way we educate our children, allow people with disabilities to lead more independent lives, and improve the quality of healthcare for rural Americans through technologies such as telemedicine.
 
Information technology advances in supercomputers, simulations, and networks are creating a new window into the natural world, making high end computational experimentation an essential tool for pathbreaking scientific discoveries. Advances in weather and climate forecasting are providing early warnings of severe weather, which saves lives, lessens property damage, and helps business be more efficient. U.S. leadership in information technology is also vital to our national security. Our military strategy now relies on information superiority to gain advantage over our adversaries and to keep our troops out of harm's way. The technologies being developed by the Department of Energy's (DOE) Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI) are a key element in assuring the safety, reliability, and performance of our nuclear arsenal.
 
The technologies resulting from past Federally-sponsored high end research (for example, the Internet, the first graphical Web browser, advanced microprocessors) have helped strengthen American leadership in the information technology industry. Information technology now accounts for one third of U.S. economic growth and employs 7.4 million Americans at wages that are more than 60 percent higher than the private sector average. All sectors of the U.S. economy are using information technology to compete and win in global markets, and business-to-business electronic commerce in the U.S. alone is projected to grow to $1.3 trillion by 2003.
 
The Nation needs significant new investments in information technology research to help ensure the underpinnings of future economic growth and to address important national problems in defense, education, the environment, health care, and transportation.
 
IT2 builds on the Government's previous accomplishments and existing investments in High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC), including the Next Generation Internet (NGI) and the DOE's Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative. The IT2 research agenda responds directly to the findings and recommendations of the President's Congressionally-chartered Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), which concluded in a report released in February 1999 that the Federal investment in Information Technology R&D is inadequate relative to its importance to the Nation. The investments planned by the IT2 initiative will augment the base HPCC programs to fund critically-needed extensions of some ongoing HPCC research agendas and expansions into entirely new research areas, as recommended by the PITAC. The IT2 focuses explicitly on long-term, fundamental research to address the underinvestments noted by the PITAC in its report. When added to existing HPCC investments, new funding through IT2 will provide a necessary first step in restoring the imbalance between fundamental research and development and shorter-term, mission oriented research and development in the current Federal portfolio.
 
The initiative will extend some existing research and development and provide opportunities to address new, complementary research and development topics in three key areas:

  • Long term information technology research and development leading to fundamental advances in computing and communications

  • Advanced computing infrastructure to facilitate scientific and engineering discoveries of national interest

  • Research on the economic and social implications of the Information Revolution, and the training of additional Information Technology workers at our universities

Six agencies - all highly dependent on advances in Information Technology to carry out their increasingly complex missions - are participating in the initiative:

  • Department of Defense (DoD) (including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency [DARPA])

  • Department of Energy (DOE)

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • National Science Foundation (NSF)

Each agency will bring its own unique mix of capabilities and expertise to bear on an appropriate subset of the R&D objectives of the initiative. Planned activities will be closely coordinated to connect complementary efforts across research disciplines and funding agencies. All partners in IT2 are committed to maintaining fundamental research as the core of the initiative. Leadership by NSF, the only agency with a clear mission to support fundamental research, and annual reviews by the PITAC are mechanisms that will help ensure a properly balanced Federal research portfolio.
 
The IT2 initiative builds on base funding in HPCC, for which the proposed FY 2000 budget is $1.462 billion (including $543 million for ASCI). The proposed IT2 FY 2000 budget is as follows:

 

Agency

Fundamental
Information Technology
Research and
Development

Advanced Computing
for Science,
Engineering,
and the Nation

Social, Economic,
and Workforce
Implications of
Information Technology

Total

DoD
$100M
        --
        --
$100M
DOE
$     6M
$  62M
$     2M
$  70M
NASA
$  18M
$  19M
$     1M
$  38M
NIH
$     2M
$     2M
$     2M
$     6M
NOAA
$     2M
$     4M
        --
$     6M
NSF
$100M
$  36M
$  10M
$146M

Total
$228M
$123M
$  15M
$366M

The IT2 initiative assumes that the activities reported as the HPCC programs will continue at the current funding levels. Continued funding of the HPCC programs is critical to the success of the IT2 initiative since many of the IT2 activities build on the HPCC base programs.
 
Should the initiative be funded, it will be managed together with the HPCC programs to ensure the best leverage of Federal investments in complementary information technology research and development programs and to avoid duplication of efforts. Integration of the management structures for IT2 and HPCC should be completed by September 1999. Beginning in FY 2001, the HPCC programs and the IT2 initiative will be reported in a single budget crosscut based on the integrated HPCC and IT2 programs.



Fundamental Information Technology Research and Development

The information technology underpinning modern society is in large measure the result of past advances in the field of computer science and engineering - the theoretical and experimental science base on which computing applications build. Fundamental research in computer science and engineering generates the knowledge and concepts that will become the information technology of the future. The importance of this fundamental research and development in information technology can only increase in the future. As the complexity of computing grows, so will the need for well-understood concepts and theories to manage this complexity. Entirely new research problems and opportunities are created each day by rapid technological advances in information technology.
 
The fundamental information technology research and development component of the IT2 initiative will address long-term, high risk investigations in issues that confront computer science and engineering. Four research focal points address the PITAC's recommendations:

  • Software

    - Software engineering

    - End-use programming

    - Component-based software development

    - Active software

    - Autonomous software

  • Human computer interfaces and information management

    - Computers that speak, listen, and understand human language

    - Computer sensors and actuators that enhance human physical
        and mental capabilities

    - An electronic information exchange

    - Information visualization

  • Scalable information infrastructure

    - Deeply networked systems

    - Anytime, anywhere connectivity

    - Network modeling and simulation

  • High end computing

    - Improving the performance and efficiency of high end computers

    - Creating a computational grid

    - Revolutionary computing

These research areas constitute a diversified program for conducting long-term research on making computing and information systems easier to use, more reliable and secure, more effective, and more productive.
 
This multiagency effort will be led by NSF, with participation by DoD, DOE, NASA, NIH, and NOAA.



Advanced Computing for Science, Engineering, and the Nation

IT2 will enable a wide range of scientific and technological discoveries by allowing complex simulations to run on the highest capability computing systems accessible to researchers around the country. Recent scientific and technical advances make possible a quantum leap in computational and data management capabilities and the application of advanced computing to nationally important strategic problems. We can realistically project that by the year 2005 end-to-end computations 1,000 times more powerful than those of today will be achieved. Challenging problems not otherwise solvable with existing computational and experimental resources will require and foster fundamental new developments in computer science and engineering as well as parallel progress in algorithm development, database management, networking, and related areas. In order to reach these goals by 2005, this component of the IT2 initiative will establish a staged program of research and development commencing in FY 2000.
 
IT2 will procure and deploy the world's most powerful computers to tackle Grand Challenge-class computing problems. This component of the initiative will:

  • Obtain computers that are 100 to 1,000 times more powerful than those now available to the research community and make them available to researchers on a competitive basis

  • Develop scientific and engineering simulation software and other tools needed to make these new machines useful, including new mathematical algorithms and parallel programming environments and tools for collaboration, visualization, and data management

  • Build multidisciplinary teams that allow researchers working in the most challenging science and engineering research areas to benefit from advances in fundamental information science resulting from other IT2 work, and computer scientists to explore challenging new information technology problems

This multiagency effort will be led by DOE and NSF, with participation by NASA, NIH, and NOAA.



Social, Economic, and Workforce Implications of Information Technology and Information Technology Workforce Development

 


Social, economic, and workforce implications of information technology

Information technology is important to the nation not only because of its value in advancing science and technology and U.S. competitiveness, but because of the ubiquity of the technology and its effect on all aspects of citizens' lives. The impacts of information technology on our society, economy, and workforce include massive changes in the nature of work, commerce, education and training, entertainment, financial management, and quality of life. Understanding these changes will enable rational decisions to be made in Government and the private sector in allocating resources and planning policies to take advantage of the opportunities that information technology brings to society.
 
IT2 will support focused research on the social, economic, and workforce implications of information technology as an integral part of its activities. Projects will include research to:

  • Enhance the usefulness of information technology, for example, use of information technology in educational settings

  • Limit potential misuse of information technology, for example, issues related to data privacy and security

  • Understand how the knowledge, values, and systems of society influence the spread of information technology and the acceptability of information technology in various aspects of our lives

Research will encompass activities within and among disciplines. It will include both focused activities and social, economic, and workforce components of fundamental information technology research and computational infrastructure development efforts.
 
This multiagency effort will be led by NSF, with participation by DOE, NASA, and NIH.


Information technology
workforce development


Science agencies must do more to address the rapidly growing demand for workers with high end information technology skills at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate levels. Today, colleges and universities are reporting increased undergraduate enrollments in information technology while applications for graduate study are actually declining. Faculty in two-year colleges, four-year colleges, and research universities need access to modern curricula and instructional materials that provide a strong foundation for future work or further study. Likewise, students need graduate traineeships, research assistantships, and postdoctoral positions that enable them to pursue advanced degrees or additional training.
 
IT2 will support a number of activities that address workforce development issues, including:

  • Activities to improve education in information technology

  • Support - through a competitive solicitation - for a national center or group of regional centers to assure that an appropriate range of training opportunities, including opportunities to review and develop modern curricula, are available to undergraduate faculty

  • Development of model curricula in computational sciences and computer literacy to help raise the level of understanding, employ computing in other science and engineering disciplines, and help college students become more computer literate

  • Opportunities for graduate and postdoctoral participation on research awards, to be provided by all agencies participating in IT2

  • Workforce Retraining and Access to Distributed Learning, including:

    - Enhanced and expanded outreach programs operated through
        existing programs and centers, with emphasis on newly funded
         centers and new information technology-related projects
        funded at existing centers.

    - Development of the technology and research base for advanced
        distributed learning, including software development and distribution
        (for software that implements distributed learning); research
        on using technology in education (delivery, assessment, collaboration)
        and assistance to new sites in its adoption; and establishment of a
        clearinghouse for information on distance learning in information
        technology

    - A new digital library focusing on coursework in information technology
        and training for information technology professionals that builds on
        existing digital library research for K-12 through undergraduate levels

This multiagency effort will be led by NSF with participation by DOE, NASA, and NIH.



Management and Coordination

The IT2 initiative will be coordinated within the framework of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) in conjunction with existing base HPCC programs and the NGI Initiative.
 
A Senior Principals Group from NSTC, chaired by the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, has been formed to set policy and coordinate the work of the initiative. This Group initially consists of the principals from the IT2 funding agencies:

  • Director of the National Science Foundation

  • Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  • Under Secretary of Energy

  • Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

  • Director of the National Institutes of Health

  • Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition and Technology)

It also includes senior officials from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the National Economic Council (NEC). The Senior Principals Group assists the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology in establishing program goals and monitoring the progress of the initiative, balancing requirements for meeting IT2 goals with agency missions and capabilities, ensuring tight coordination of Federal efforts, and making sure that the research program allocates funds in an open, competitive process geared toward supporting the best ideas.
 
The Senior Principals Group is supported by an IT2 Working Group chaired by the Assistant Director of NSF for Computer and Information Science and Engineering. The IT2 Working Group consists of agency representatives with operational authority over information technology research and/or information technology infrastructure within their agencies. The National Coordination Office (NCO) for Computing, Information, and Communications provides coordination support.
 
The IT2 Working Group is charged with preparing research plans, budgets, and the detailed implementation for the initiative. It is also developing a transition plan to provide for coordination of IT2 with ongoing base research programs, including HPCC and NGI, by September 1999. The integrated coordination structure will use existing groups and teams to the maximum extent possible, facilitating coordination among agencies in projects that require close and continued partnerships to ensure that collective research activities provide a sound and balanced national research portfolio. Some tasks may require new subgroups. One such new subgroup, chaired by NSF and DOE, is preparing a plan to develop and operate the new advanced infrastructure funded by the two agencies through IT2. This will ensure that the infrastructure is purchased, sited, and made available on an open, competitive basis. The subgroup will assure that the systems are made available to the research teams with the most compelling research concepts and the best ideas for building partnerships between experts in state-of-the-art information and computational science, and groups familiar with research challenges in application areas such as biochemistry or climate modeling that can benefit from access to ultra-fast machines.
 
Within the integrated management and coordination structure, agencies will retain control over their own budgets and will support the coordinated effort only in areas where they have authority. Each agency will use its own method for inviting proposals. Agencies will coordinate their activities through program managers and experts from other agencies in review processes and in interagency IT2 activities.


Time Line Summary

The following table lists IT2 deliverables. Outyear deliverables depend on regular increases in funding for this initiative.

Deliverables
First Achieved
Research and development in software, including high confidence systems, human computer interaction, large scale networking and scalable infrastructures, and high end computing, begins in response to open competitive solicitations FY 2000
Teams for pursuing mission agency problems sets begin work FY 2000
Combined 10 teraflops computing power available to the science and engineering research community for both open competitive research and mission-directed research FY 2001
Prototypes and demonstrations of software, including high confidence systems, human computer interaction, large scale networking and scalable infrastructures, and high end computing, begins in response to open competitive solicitations FY 2002
Combined 80 teraflops computing power available to the science and engineering research community for both open competitive research and mission-directed research FY 2004*
High-resolution three-dimensional simulations of five or more different complete complex systems (such as an airplane's flight, combustion devices, and the human body) for agency mission applications and general science and engineering are demonstrated FY 2004

*IT2 anticipates availability of machines with this power in FY 2004, but acquisition of this capability for users will depend on price and IT2 funding levels.
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