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The White House

Office of Science and Technology Policy


                  Statement of John H. Gibbons
        Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy

                           before the

           Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
                  U.S. House of Representatives

                         April 27, 1993


Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to testify on the Administration's High Performance Computing and Communications Program and its important role in assisting the development of the National Information Infrastructure.

This information infrastructure consists of computers, computer data banks, fax machines, telephones, and video displays linked by high-speed telecommunication links capable of transmitting billions of bits of information in a second--an entire Encyclopedia Britannica in a few seconds. The computing and networking technology that makes this possible is improving at an unprecedented rate, expanding both our imaginations for its use and its effectiveness. Using these technologies, a doctor who needs a second opinion could transmit a patient's entire medical record--x-rays and ultrasound scans included--to a colleague thousands of miles away, in less time that it takes to send a fax today. A school child in a small town could come home and through a personal computer, reach into an electronic Library of Congress--thousands of books, records, videos, and photographs, all stored electronically. At home, viewers could choose whenever they wanted from thousands of different television programs or movies.

As you know, the Administration is committed to accelerating the development of the National Information Infrastructure (NII) this Nation needs for the 21st Century. This infrastructure will provide Americans the information they need, when they need it, whether in the form of text, images, video, or sound. These "information superhighways" will revolutionize the way we work, learn, shop, and live. They promise to have an even greater impact than the interstate freeways or the telephone system. This infrastructure will be as ubiquitous as the telephone system, but will be able to carry information at least 1,000 times faster. It will be able to transmit not only voice and fax, but will also provide hundreds of channels of interactive high-definition TV programming, teleconferencing, and access to huge volumes of information.

This technology is already in use in many of our research laboratories where it is transforming the way research is done. It allows scientists and engineers to access information from computer databases scattered throughout the country and enables them to use

supercomputers and research equipment thousands of miles away. Perhaps most importantly, it enables researchers to collaborate with colleagues around the country and around the world almost as easily as if they were in the same building.

This same telecommunications and computing technology could someday be available to all Americans, provided there is adequate public and private investment and forward-looking government policies that promote its deployment and use.

The Clinton Administration believes that the Federal government has several important roles to play in assisting the development of this infrastructure, which will be built and run primarily by the private sector. In many ways, the High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) Program provides the technological foundation upon which the Administration's strategy for the NII rests. On February 22, the President and the Vice President unveiled a Technology Initiative which outlined the five parts of the Administration's strategy for building the National Information Infrastructure:

  1. Implement the High-Performance Computing and Communications Program, which is helping develop the basic technology needed for the NII.
  2. Through the Information Infrastructure Technology and Applications program, work with industry, universities, and Federal labs to develop technologies needed to effectively utilize the NII for a wide range of applications.
  3. Provide funding for networking pilot projects through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce. NTIA will provide matching grants to assist states, local governments, universities and school systems, hospitals and other health care providers, and other non-profit entities in purchasing equipment and in undertaking planning related to telecommunications infrastructure development. These pilot projects will demonstrate and explore the benefits of networking in the educational and library communities.
  4. Promote dissemination of Federal information. Every year, the Federal government spends billions of dollars collecting and processing information (e.g. economic data, environmental data, and technical information). Unfortunately, while much of this information is very valuable, many potential users either do not know that it exists or do not know how to access it. The Administration is committed to using new computer and networking technology to make this information more available to the taxpayers who paid for it. This will require consistent Federal information policies designed to ensure that Federal information is made available at a fair price to as many users as possible while encouraging the growth of the information industry.
  5. Reform telecommunications policies. Government telecommunication policy has not kept pace with new developments in telecommunications and computer technology. As a result, government regulations have tended to inhibit competition and delay deployment of new technology and services. For instance, without a consistent, stable regulatory environment, the private sector will hesitate
          to make the investments necessary to build the high-
          speed national telecommunications network that this 
          country needs to compete successfully in the 21st 
          Century.  To address this problem and others, the 
          Administration is creating a high-level, interagency 
          Information Infrastructure Task Force at the White 
          House that will work with Congress, the private 
          sector, and state and local governments to find 
          consensus on and implement policy changes needed to 
          accelerate deployment of the NII.

     As you can see, the HPCC Program is a critical part of the 

Administration's effort to build the NII. It is a key part of a comprehensive strategy that will not only develop and demonstrate new information technology, but also ensure that we have intelligent, forward-looking policies that encourage the private sector to deploy it and the public to use it. Over the next four years, the Administration is proposing to spend over $5 billion on this Program.


For more than 10 years, the Science, Space, and Technology Committee has been a leader in the area of information technology and information policy. Legislation sponsored by this Committee, the "Supercomputer Networking Study Act of 1986," mandated a report by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) that helped lay the foundation of the High Performance Computing and Communications Program. The High-Performance Computing Act of 1991, first introduced by then-Senator Gore and championed in the House by Representatives Brown, Boucher, Valentine, and others, authorized and defined that program.

When then-Senator Gore proposed the idea of a HighPerformance Computing Initiative more than five years ago, most people believed it would primarily benefit the research and higher education communities. And its first users have been scientists, engineers, and university educators. The supercomputer technology developed under this program has helped users to improve our understanding of global warming, develop new drugs, design safer and more fuel-efficient cars and aircraft, and access huge "digital libraries" of information. The high-speed networking technology developed and demonstrated by the HPCC Program and industry has accelerated the growth of the Internet computer network and enabled millions of users not just to exchange electronic mail, but to access computers, digital libraries, and research equipment around the world. This technology, which allows network users to conduct video conferences at their desk, is enabling researchers around the country to collaborate more effectively.

The technology now used by the research and development community could provide huge benefits in other sectors of our economy. Unfortunately, much of this technology is "leadingedge" technology that is still experimental and difficult to use. That is why, in the Technology Initiative of February 22, the Administration announced creation of a program to "assist industry in the development of the hardware and software needed to fully apply advanced computing and networking technology in manufacturing, in health care, in life-long learning, and libraries." The Administration requested $47 million for FY93 and $96 million for FY94 for this program. The legislation we are considering today, as well as provisions in S. 4 and S. 473 being considered by the Senate, support these efforts.

This new program will be part of the High-Performance Computing and Communications Program, which is coordinated by the High Performance Computing and Communications and Information Technology (HPCCIT) Subcommittee of the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (FCCSET), which I chair. The HPCCIT has incorporated this new program into the HPCC Program by adding a fifth component to the program for FY94 and by putting more emphasis on applications throughout the program. This new component, Information Infrastructure Technology and Applications (IITA), will develop and apply high performance computing and communications technologies to improve information systems needed to address what we call "National Challenges"--major societal needs that computing and communications technology can help us address--and include design and manufacturing, health care, education, digital libraries, environmental monitoring, energy demand management, public safety, and national security. These National Challenges are analogous to the "Grand Challenge" research problems which have been the primary focus of the HPCC Program to date. In addition to addressing these problems, this new component will support the development, with industry, of the NII and the development of the computer, network, and database technology needed to provide appropriate privacy and security protection for users.

Components of the HPCC Program

The President's FY 1994 budget requests $1 billion for the HPCC Program plus $96 million for the new IITA component. As I mentioned, the Program consists of five integrated components. Let me outline the goals and strategic priorities of each.

  1. HPCS (High Performance Computing Systems) -- Its goal is to extend U.S. technological leadership in high performance computing through the development of scalable computing systems, with associated software, capable of sustaining at least one trillion operations per second (teraops) performance. Scalable parallel and distributed computing systems will be able to support workstation users through the largest-scale highest-performance systems. Workstations will extend into portable wireless interfaces as technology advances.
  2. NREN (National Research and Education Network) -- Its goal is to extend U.S. technology leadership in computer communications by a program of research and development that advances the leading edge of networking technology and services. NREN will widen the research and education community's access to high performance computing and research centers and to electronic information resources and libraries. This will accelerate the development and deployment of networking technologies by the telecommunications industry. This includes nationwide prototypes for terrestrial, satellite, wireless and wireline communications systems, including fiber optics, with common protocol support and application interfaces.
  3. ASTA (Advance Software Technology and Algorithms) -- Its purpose is to demonstrate prototype solutions to Grand Challenge problems through the development of advanced algorithms and software and the use of HPCC resources. Grand Challenge problems are computationally intensive problems such as forecasting weather, understanding climate changes, improving environmental quality, building more energy-efficient cars and airplanes, designing

better drugs, and conducting basic scientific research.

4. BRHR (Basic Research and Human Resources) -- This element supports research, training, and education in computer science, computer engineering and the computational sciences and enhance the infrastructure through the addition of HPCC resources. Initiation of pilot projects for K-12 and lifelong learning will support expansion of the NII.

5. IITA (Information Infrastructure Technology and Applications) -- Its purpose is to demonstrate prototype solutions to National Challenge problems using HPCC enabling technologies. This will support integrated systems technology demonstration projects for critical National Challenge applications through development of intelligent systems interfaces. These will include systems development environments with support for virtual reality, image understanding, language and speech understanding, and data and object bases for electronic libraries and commerce.

Close cooperation between the federal government and industry is essential if technology developed by the HPCC Initiative is to be effectively used to build an advanced NII. Both individually and as members of the HPCC Initiative, the participating agencies collaborate with industrial partners, fund research and development in the private sector, and work together to plan the HPCC Program. In addition, my office is working on a High Performance Computing Advisory Committee consisting of representatives from the private sector and academia and we note with approval your proposed legislation's broadening of the membership of the advisory group to include representation from the K-12 education community and from consumer and public interest groups.

Agency Roles in the HPCC Program

The HPCC Program has been a model of how Federal agencies with different missions can work together effectively toward a common goal. The participating agencies have built a coherent, coordinated program that is far greater than just the sum of its parts. They have eliminated wasteful duplication of effort and research dollars and found and exploited opportunities for joint projects. This kind of synergy ensures the best use of Federal research dollars.

Allow me next to briefly outline for you the roles, the accomplishments to date, the implementation plans, and the FY 1994 proposed activities for the agencies that take part in the HPCC Program. No single agency has expertise in all areas of HPCC technology; each plays an essential role. Agencies participate in the HPCC Program in support of their individual missions, overall Program goals, or both. The agencies and their roles (as outlined in a recent OSTP summary of the FCCSET programs) are:

projects are developing the full range of technologies needed for a scalable technology base of interoperating workstations, networks, and parallel computing systems with mass storage, systems software and development tools. This technology will enable a rapid transition from concepts to computational and integrated system solutions in an open heterogeneous computing environment. This will enable solution of the Grand Challenges and other National Challenges while providing the foundation for a NII.

libraries; provides NREN access to researchers and medical centers; supports training at all levels in high performance computing for medical applications and provides fellowships in medical informatics. NIH IITA efforts will expand technology development for telemedicine, medical record management, and medical imagery.

and students in K-12 and lifelong learning about high performance computing and networking application resources. It promotes initiatives in training, curriculum development, library connectivity and research and development projects that support the emerging information infrastructure.

HR1757 - "High Performance Computing and High Speed Networking Applications Act of 1993"

HR1757 is important, forward-looking legislation and is largely consistent with the Administration's proposal for developing the nation's information infrastructure. I commend the Chairman and the cosponsors of this bill for their efforts and their vision. This legislation can help accelerate the development of a National Information Infrastructure.

I believe that the legislation being considered today is generally consistent with the Administration's goals for the HPCC Program and the development of the National Information Infrastructure. It supports the expansion of the HPCC Program and additional emphasis on development of applications technology for manufacturing, health care, education, libraries, and other sectors of the economy. It also authorizes additional Federal funding for connecting schools and non-profit organizations to high-speed networks. The legislation includes very important provisions for improving the dissemination of Federal information.

We share the committee's desire that scientific and technical information be made more available to the taxpayers who paid for it. Scientific and technical information (STI) is a multi-billion dollar annual enterprise which provides the critical raw material of research and development as well as a tangible output of our R&D investment. It is estimated that between 2 percent and 4 percent of each Federal research dollar is spent on the management of STI. When effectively mobilized, STI programs can provide input to the solution of major technical problems. From large earth observing experiments to genome databases to computational science research to using scientific visualization for new scientific insights, rapid advances in information technologies combined with an increased volume of data and information have brought renewed recognition of the importance of information management in the science and technology program life cycle.

HR1757 was just introduced on April 21st. My office and all of the other interested agencies have already begun to carefully review the details of the Bill. The Administration will provide the Committee with its views on the Bill as soon as the review has been completed.


Thank you again for this opportunity to appear here today. The Administration is committed to the rapid development of the National Information Infrastructure. This commitment is reflected in both the President's Technology Initiative and Administration's FY94 budget

request. Your proposed legislation will help provide greater access to the Internet and accelerate development of applications of high-performance computing and communications technology in the areas of primary and secondary education, health care, libraries, and access to government information. We look forward to working with the Committee on this legislation and on the development of the National Information Infrastructure. There are few initiatives that offer as many potential benefits to all Americans.