WASHINGTON, DC— Today, legislation authored by Congressman Darin LaHood to modernize and streamline federal investment in high-end computing and information technology passed the House floor with unanimous bipartisan support. 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.

“I am proud to witness my legislation that is set to modernize and streamline critical information technology for the private and public sectors pass the House floor with overwhelming bipartisan support,” LaHood noted. “This bill will modernize the NITRD Program so advancements in computing technologies can transform how companies learn, how they conduct business, and how we maintain a strong national security apparatus.” stated Rep. LaHood.

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.

“As Western Illinois University continues to work on projects with the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, the benefit to utilize supercomputers – like those supported by federal Networking Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Program investment – would enhance opportunities the University has already garnered,” stated William Pratt, Director of the School of Engineering at Western Illinois University. “For example, the Quad Cities Manufacturing Lab and WIU's School of Engineering have been creating a 3D metal printer to work on legacy repair parts for the military, and the opportunity to use supercomputing technology to test the parts created would be very useful for our continued research.”

In a statement on the House Floor today, Science, Space, and Technology Chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) stated, “I want to thank the gentleman from Illinois, Mr. LaHood, for taking the initiative on this innovation bill. This taxpayer-funded basic research is intended to ensure that the United States remains the global leader in high-end computing and networking, which is crucial to our future economic and national security. Advanced networking and information technology supports and boosts American discovery and innovation, enhances national security, improves our international competitiveness, expands the U.S. economy, and creates millions of jobs.”

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To watch Rep. Darin LaHood’s Floor statement on H.R. 5312, CLICK here.

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

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, bipartisan vote.