Networking and Information Technology Research and Development

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The Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) program consists of a group of U.S. federal agencies to research and develop information technology (IT) capabilities to empower Federal missions; support U.S. science, engineering, and technology leadership; and bolster U.S. economic competitiveness. The inter-agency program focuses on identifying research that will help the United States to “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world”.[1]

Working groups[edit]

NITRD program activities are organized into eight program component areas (PCAs), four senior steering groups (SSGs), and a community of practice (CoP). The NITRD Subcommittee convenes three times a year and the working groups meet approximately monthly. These groups provide input to the NITRD supplement to the president’s budget.

NITRD working groups are organized in the following program component areas.

  • Cybersecurity and information assurance. Priorities are organized into four categories according to the 2011 federal cybersecurity R&D strategic plan.[2] One principal objective is achieving greater resiliency to cyberspace attacks.
  • High-confidence software and systems. Priorities include: Developing the science and technology for building cyber-physical systems (CPS); Management of complex and autonomous systems; Development of assurance technology; Improving the quality of high-confidence real-time software and systems:', together with the improving CPS education to develop a new generation of U.S. experts
  • High-end computing infrastructure and applications. Further development includes the advancement of high-end computing applications, development of leading-edge cyber infrastructure, providing access to facilities and resources, enhancing infrastructure for computational and data-enabled science, and share best management practices.
  • High-end computing research and development. Rapid increase in high-end computing capabilities are expected, which creates challenges for developing applications and system architectures that effectively utilize billion-fold concurrency, reducing the energy per computation by orders of magnitude, achieving system resilience at extreme scales, and enabling future revolutions in simulation and big-data-enabled science and technology. Some 2013 priorities were improving extreme-scale computation devising new directions in HEC hardware, software and system architectures, and developing architectures and prototypes to take computing power and communications “beyond Moore’s Law” and enhancing productivity of dispersed collaborative teams.
  • Human-computer interaction and information management. The US government generates and maintains large digital collections of science and engineering data, historical records, health information, and scientific and other types of archival literature. New research and advances are needed in: Developing information standards improving decision-support systems, information management systems, information infrastructure, preservation and accessibility of electronic records. It also involves the development of active systems including cognitive robotics, and multimodal systems.
  • Large-scale networking. This includes the measurement, management, and control of large-scale distributed infrastructures, improving operational capabilities for identity management, Internet Protocol version 6 implementation, cloud computing, and data flows, promoting cooperation among network testbeds including Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI), Advanced Networking Initiatives (ANI), Magellan Phase 2, and further development of dynamic optical networking.
  • Social, economic, and workforce implications. This working group focuses on the co-evolution of information technology and social, economic, and workforce systems including interactions between people and IT and among people developing and using IT in groups and networks. One key area is the science of collaboration, including IT-enabled innovation ecology, integrated multidisciplinary research, and putting humans in the loop by improving the coupled relationships between people and computing. Another key area is IT and education, including Cyber Learning, increasing computational competencies, and broadening interest and participation in 21st Century IT careers, including information assurance and computer security.
  • Software design and productivity. Priorities are defining the core elements for software development to make engineering decisions and modifications transparent and traceable throughout the software lifecycle (e.g., design, development, evolution, and sustainment). A key goal is to enable software engineers to maintain and evolve complex systems cost-effectively and correctly long after the original developers have departed. One area of research priorities is rethinking software design, including foundational/core research on science and engineering of software, Next-generation software concepts, and capabilities for evolvable, sustainable, long-lived software-intensive systems. Another is the predictable, timely, cost-effective development of software-intensive systems: including software application interoperability, and cost and productivity issues for safety-critical, embedded, and autonomous systems.

Other senior steering groups focus on emerging issues and are not required to report budgetary information to the NITRD program. They offer a means of collaboration for individuals with a senior level of authority who do not participate in the program component area working groups.

  • Big data research and development
  • Cyber physical systems
  • Health information technology research and development was established in 2010 in response to Section 13202(b) of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5) for bringing together health and IT communities.
  • Wireless spectrum research and development group was established in 2010 in response to the June 28, 2010 presidential memorandum Unleashing the Wireless Broadband Revolution.[3]

Community of practice[edit]

Faster Administration of Science and Technology Education and Research (FASTER) Community of Practice (CoP) FASTER, supported by the NITRD NCO, communicates with the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Federal Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council concerning IT R&D matters that are of general interest to Federal agencies. FASTER’s goal is to enhance collaboration and accelerate government agency adoption of advanced IT capabilities developed by government-sponsored IT research. The group is focused on the following strategic themes:

  • Cloud computing
  • Semantic web and ontology technology
  • Open government
  • Emerging technologies
  • Sharing knowledge, ideas, and best practices

Participating agencies[edit]

The following federal agencies report their IT research budgets in the NITRD "crosscut" and provide proportional funding to support NITRD's operations:

Representatives of other agencies also participate.


Strategic plans[edit]

History and legal background[edit]

NITRD started in 1991 with the High Performance Computing Act of 1991,[5] and was changed by the Next Generation Internet Research Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-305),[6] and the America COMPETES Act of 2007 (P.L.110-69),[7] NITRD provides a framework and mechanisms to coordinate among 15 Federal agencies that support advanced IT R&D and report IT research budgets in the "NITRD crosscut." Individuals from other agencies with IT interests also participate informally.

The NITRD program had an invitation-only symposium in Washington, DC, in February 2012. Former Vice President Al Gore, who sponsored the High Performance Computing Act of 1991, was promoted as a speaker.[8]


NITRD's National Coordination Office (NCO) supports NITRD's planning, budget, and assessment activities. The NCO also supports the NITRD Subcommittee, which coordinates the NITRD Program, and the organizations that report to the Subcommittee.[9] The NCO's director is appointed by the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The NCO works with the NITRD agencies, IWGs, CGs and the White House Office of Management and Budget to prepare, publish, and disseminate the Program's annual supplement to the President's Budget, Federal networking and IT R&D plans, and networking and IT research needs reports.

The NCO provides technical support for the activities of the Networking and Information Technology Subcommittee of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a panel of experts from industry and academia, in assessing the NITRD Program and preparing associated reports.

The NCO maintains the NITRD Web site - - which contains information about the Program and electronic versions of NITRD documents