Report: U.S. Lags in Spending on IT Networking Research

Recommends a national, long-term, multi-agency, research initiatives on networking and information technologies in numerous sectors.
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U.S. government funding is going to prompt advances in “networking and information technology” (NIT) because other entities are not spending enough on research in that field, says a National Science Foundation (NSF) report which that agency is seeking comments on.

On Dec. 23, 2010, NSF posted a notice on the Federal Register seeking comment on the report “Designing a Digital Future: Federally Funded Research and Development in Networking and Information Technology,” which was issued Dec. 16, 2010.

“An important finding of this report is that the nation is actually investing far less in NIT (research and development) R&D than is shown in the federal budget,” says the report. “In summary, the transformative NIT research that fuels innovation and achievement and strengthens our nation needs to come from government investment, yet it is currently difficult to ascertain the magnitude of that investment,” the report says.

In addition, “the participating agencies in the NITRD program must more aggressively embrace the expanding role that advances in NIT play in America’s future. A broad spectrum of federal agencies—those currently participating in NITRD and some which are not yet doing so—must recognize that their abilities to accomplish their missions are inextricably linked to advances in NIT, and must invest in NIT R&D to catalyze the advances that are critical to their missions. Strategic leadership must come from the top, from those within the federal government with the authority to implement new strategies,” the report says.

The NSF notice says the NIT report recommends a national, long-term, multi-agency, research initiatives on networking and information technologies for the health, energy, transportation, and cyberinfrastructure sectors, and lists question areas comments can address. Those areas are:

  • What are the most important NIT R&D challenges in each of these sectors?
  • What NIT R&D challenges are common across all of these sectors?
  • What emerging innovations in these or other sectors could be used to achieve a leap forward in progress?

The NSF notice also says the report recommends collaborative programs to support high risk/high reward R&D in the following areas: Fundamentals of privacy protection and protected disclosure of confidential data; human-machine and social collaboration and problem-solving in networked, online environments where large numbers of people participate in common activities; data collection, storage, management, and automated large-scale data analysis; and advanced domain-specific sensors, integration of NIT into physical systems, and innovative robotics. Suggested questions that stakeholders can address are:

  • What are some high-risk concepts that carry the potential for fundamentally changing the landscape in these frontier areas?
  • What limitations in NIT hold back progress today in these frontier areas? How might these limitations be overcome?
  • What efforts currently underway in these areas could be accelerated through collaboration, cooperation, and coordination?

The deadline for comments is Jan. 31, 2011. Comments can be submitted electronically, or by regular, express, overnight mail, or courier.

The address to submit comments electronically is In addition, e-mailed comments will be accepted at Attachments should be in OpenOffice, Microsoft Word, or Adobe PDF formats.

The address to submit comments by regular, express, overnight mail, or courier is: National Coordination Office for the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program, 4201 Wilson Blvd, Suite II-405, Arlington, VA 22230. Please submit one original and two copies. Please also allow sufficient time for mailed comments to be received before the close of the comment period.