Washington, D.C.—On Friday, January 6, President Obama signed legislation authored by Rep. Darin LaHood into law. The Networking and Information Technology Research Development (NITRD) Modernization Act of 2016 will update and improve Federal research and development efforts in information technologies, networking, computing, software, and cybersecurity. This is the second bill of Rep. LaHood’s to be signed into law since he took office September 17, 2015.

“In this day and age where national security threats transcend boundaries and take the form of cyber threats, it is imperative that America invests in the future of research and development,” stated Rep. LaHood. “The NITRD Program has not been updated since the 1990s. By modernizing and improving it, government and private companies will have opportunities to advance how they learn, conduct business, and maintain a strong national security apparatus. This will also improve communication between Federal and private partnerships—such as ones already established at the University of Illinois, Caterpillar, and Western Illinois University. I am delighted that the President signed this measure, which directly benefits our universities and businesses in Central Illinois and will ultimately strengthen our national security.”

The NITRD Modernization Act of 2016 was included in S. 3084, The American Innovation and Competiveness Act, a comprehensive package that was signed into law by the President to reform agencies and programs that administer taxpayer-supported basic research. 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.

Caterpillar Inc. stated, "Caterpillar is grateful that the President signed Congressman LaHood’s NITRD Modernization Act in law. Enhanced technology and connectivity is essential to our engineers and their efforts to perform rapid simulation and advance product design while stretching their imaginations toward better solutions.  We want to thank Congressman LaHood for his leadership on this bill, which is important to future innovation at Caterpillar."

“High-performance computing is vital to our national economic competitiveness—that’s why this bill is so important to not only the University of Illinois, but also our nation,” 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. We are thankful the President signed this bill into law, and would like to thank Rep. LaHood and the rest of the sponsors of the bill for leading the effort on this measure.”

The Networking and Information Technology Development (NITRD) Modernization Act of 2016 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..

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