President's advisory group finds most federal IT funds being misused
Every year, federal agencies get roughly $4 billion for research and development of information technology. The goal of that funding is to bring the best available networking and communications technology into government.
But an independent study by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology — a group that includes Google chief executive Eric Schmidt and Microsoft Chief Technologist Craig Mundie – has found that a scant amount of that money actually goes toward information technology development.
At the National Institutes of Health, for example, just 2 percent of the $575 million in awards were used for network research and development. The report found that about only 4 to 11 percent of awards in more than a dozen agencies were used on information technology R&D. Instead, the funds went toward infrastructure, other R&D projects, and other technology -- not for their purpose of advancing networking communications within the government.
The report, scheduled to be released Thursday, seeks to emphasize the importance of accounting for spending within government agencies and to highlight how the United States risks falling behind other nations that are investing more heavily in IT research.
Many agencies use information technology to advance research in their own fields, such as the large databases of protein sequences that are important to biomedical research. These applications represent important infrastructure and are legitimately categorized as R&D expenditures, but they are not "information technology" R&D, as defined by the Office of Management and Budget.
"They involve using today's information technology to advance the forefront of other fields, not driving the forefront of networking and information technology," said Ed Lazowska, a co-chair of the the working group that developed the group’s
Lazowska will present the report to national Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Vivek Kundra, federal Chief Information Officer, during a Thursday afternoon event on research and development in federal information technology.
| December 16, 2010; 12:01 AM ET
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