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Representative Darin LaHood

Representing the 18th District of Illinois

LaHood Legislation to Modernize and Streamline Federal Information Technology R&D Passes House Science Committee with Bipartisan Support

May 25, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC— Today, legislation authored by Congressman Darin LaHood to modernize and streamline federal investment in high-end computing and information technology passed out of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee. The High Performance Computing Act of 1991 authorized the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Program—a multi-agency effort to coordinate federal research and development for revolutionary breakthroughs in advanced information technologies such as computing, networking, software, and cybersecurity. By updating the original legislation, H.R. 5312 will benefit local entities that use advanced information technologies, such the University of Illinois, Caterpillar, and Western Illinois University, and ensure the Program saves taxpayer dollars.

“Since the 1990s, advancements in computing technologies have transformed how students learn, how companies conduct business, how we purchase goods, and how we maintain a strong national security apparatus,” LaHood noted. “This bill will modernize the NITRD Program so the University of Illinois, home to nationally recognized scientists and the Blue Waters Supercomputer, can continue to be a leader in this field and assist companies, like Caterpillar, that are working to remain competitive globally. I am pleased that this measure passed out of Committee today with unanimous, bipartisan support,” stated Rep. LaHood in his statement during the Science, Space, and Technology committee hearing.

The NITRD Program has a history of significant impact in Central Illinois through its work with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Among many accomplishments, the NCSA’s Blue Waters Supercomputer has had a standing partnership with Caterpillar since the 1990s which has led to advantageous product development and digital simulation of future product designs. H.R. 5312 updates the program by establishing a strategic planning, coordination, and review process with targeted metrics, by focusing the program on long-term and large scale research with the potential for significant breakthroughs that will increase U.S. competiveness, and by improving collaboration between federal agencies, national laboratories, private industry, and academia like Western Illinois University in Macomb.

“High-performance computing is vital to our national economic competitiveness,” said Peter Schiffer, Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “It is an enabling technology, giving us power to solve hard problems in medicine, manufacturing, and all areas of fundamental science. We couldn’t tackle these challenges without the support of federal funding agencies like the National Science Foundation, and we are grateful to Rep. LaHood for bringing this legislation forward.”

In a statement regarding this legislation, Caterpillar said, "Caterpillar is grateful for Congressman LaHood’s leadership in introducing the NITRD Modernization Act. Enhanced technology and connectivity is essential to our engineers and their efforts to perform rapid simulation and advance product design while stretching their imaginations towards better solutions. These upgrades will be the foundation of future innovation. We strongly support Congressman LaHood’s efforts to promote this policy."

Research conducted under the NITRD Program has also led to computational decoding of the human genome, modeling and simulation power grids, pharmaceuticals, and even the development of devices for assisted living. In the cybersecurity space, the NITRD Program focuses on prevention, resistance, detection, and response before, during, and after cyber-attacks, which have become all too common.

H.R. 5312 passed out of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee on a unanimous vote and is now eligible for consideration on the House Floor.

To watch Rep. Darin LaHood present H.R. 5312 during a hearing hosted by the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, CLICK here.