Statement of John H. Gibbons

Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy

before the

Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

U.S. H

ouse of Representatives

April 27, 1993


Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, thank you for this opportu nity totestify on the Administration's High Performance Computing and CommunicationsProgram and its important role in assisting the development of the NationalInformation Infrastructure.

This information infrastructure consists of computers, computer data banks,fax machines, telephones, and video displays linked by high-speedtelecommunication links capable of transmitting billions of bits of informationin a second--an entire Encyclopedia Britannica in a few seconds. The computingand netw orking technology that makes this possible is improving at anunprecedented rate, expanding both our imaginations for its use and itseffectiveness. Using these technologies, a doctor who needs a second opinioncould transmit a patient's entire medical r ecord--x-rays and ultrasound scansincluded--to a colleague thousands of miles away, in less time that it takes tosend a fax today. A school child in a small town could come home and through apersonal computer, reach into an electronic Library of Congr ess--thousands ofbooks, records, videos, and photographs, all stored electronically. At home,viewers could choose whenever they wanted from thousands of differenttelevision programs or movies.

As you know, the Administration is committed to ac celerating the developmentof the National Information Infrastructure (NII) this Nation needs for the 21stCentury. This infrastructure will provide Americans the information they need,when they need it, whether in the form of text, images, video, or so und.These "information superhighways" will revolutionize the way we work, learn,shop, and live. They promise to have an even greater impact than theinterstate freeways or the telephone system. This infrastructure will be asubiquitous as the telephon e system, but will be able to carry information atleast 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 TVprogramming, teleconferencing, and access to hug e volumes of information.

This technology is already in use in many of our research laboratories whereit is transforming the way research is done. It allows scientists andengineers to access information from computer databases scattered throug houtthe country and enables them to use supercomputers and research equipmentthousands of miles away. Perhaps most importantly, it enables researchers tocollaborate with colleagues around the country and around the world almost aseasily as if they we re in the same building.

This same telecommunications and computing technology could someday beavailable to all Americans, provided there is adequate public and privateinvestment and forward-looking government policies that promote its deploym entand use.

The Clinton Administration believes that the Federal government has severalimportant roles to play in assisting the development of this infrastructure,which will be built and run primarily by the private sector. In many ways, theH igh Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) Program provides thetechnological foundation upon which the Administration's strategy for the NIIrests. On February 22, the President and the Vice President unveiled aTechnology Initiative which outl ined the five parts of the Administration'sstrategy for building the National Information Infrastructure:

1) Implement the High-Performance Computing and Communications Program, whichis 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 technologiesneeded to effectively utilize the NII for a wide range of applications.

3) Provide funding for networking pilot projects through the NationalTelecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department ofCommerce. NTIA will provide matching grants to assist states, localgovernments, universities and school systems, hospitals and o ther health careproviders, and other non-profit entities in purchasing equipment and inundertaking planning related to telecommunications infrastructure development.These pilot projects will demonstrate and explore the benefits of networking inthe edu cational and library communities.

4) Promote dissemination of Federal information. Every year, the Federalgovernment 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 potentialusers either do not know that it exists or do not know how to access it. TheAdministration is committed to using new computer and networking technology tomake this informa tion more available to the taxpayers who paid for it. Thiswill require consistent Federal information policies designed to ensure thatFederal information is made available at a fair price to as many users aspossible while encouraging the growth of the information industry.

5) Reform telecommunications policies. Government telecommunication policyhas not kept pace with new developments in telecommunications and computertechnology. As a result, government regulations have tended to inhibitcompe tition and delay deployment of new technology and services. For instance,without a consistent, stable regulatory environment, the private sector willhesitate to make the investments necessary to build the high-speed nationaltelecommunications network that this country needs to compete successfully inthe 21st Century. To address this problem and others, the Administration iscreating a high-level, interagency Information Infrastructure Task Force at theWhite House that will work with Congress, the p rivate sector, and state andlocal governments to find consensus on and implement policy changes needed toaccelerate deployment of the NII.

As you can see, the HPCC Program is a critical part of the Administration'seffort to build the NII. It i s a key part of a comprehensive strategy thatwill not only develop and demonstrate new information technology, but alsoensure that we have intelligent, forward-looking policies that encourage theprivate sector to deploy it and the public to use it. Ov er the next fouryears, the Administration is proposing to spend over $5 billion on thisProgram.


For more than 10 years, the Science, Space, and Technology Committee has beena leader in the area of information technology and inform ation policy.Legislation sponsored by this Committee, the "Supercomputer Networking StudyAct of 1986," mandated a report by the White House Office of Science andTechnology Policy (OSTP) that helped lay the foundation of the High PerformanceComputing a nd Communications Program. The High-Performance Computing Act of1991, first introduced by then-Senator Gore and championed in the House byRepresentatives Brown, Boucher, Valentine, and others, authorized and definedthat program.

When then-Senato r Gore proposed the idea of a High-Performance ComputingInitiative more than five years ago, most people believed it would primarilybenefit the research and higher education communities. And its first usershave been scientists, engineers, and universi ty educators. The supercomputertechnology developed under this program has helped users to improve ourunderstanding of global warming, develop new drugs, design safer and morefuel-efficient cars and aircraft, and access huge "digital libraries" ofinf ormation. The high-speed networking technology developed and demonstratedby the HPCC Program and industry has accelerated the growth of the Internetcomputer network and enabled millions of users not just to exchange electronicmail, but to access compu ters, digital libraries, and research equipment aroundthe world. This technology, which allows network users to conduct videoconferences at their desk, is enabling researchers around the country tocollaborate more effectively.

The technology n ow used by the research and development community couldprovide huge benefits in other sectors of our economy. Unfortunately, much ofthis technology is "leading-edge" technology that is still experimental anddifficult to use. That is why, in the Techn ology Initiative of February 22,the Administration announced creation of a program to "assist industry in thedevelopment of the hardware and software needed to fully apply advancedcomputing and networking technology in manufacturing, in health care, in life-long learning, and libraries." The Administration requested $47 millionfor FY93 and $96 million for FY94 for this program. The legislation we areconsidering today, as well as provisions in S. 4 and S. 473 being considered bythe Senate, support these efforts.

This new program will be part of the High-Performance Computing andCommunications Program, which is coordinated by the High Performance Computingand Communications and Information Technology (HPCCIT) Subcommittee of theFederal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (FCCSET),which I chair. The HPCCIT has incorporated this new program into the HPCCProgram by adding a fifth component to the program for FY94 and by putting moreemphasis on applications thro ughout the program. This new component,Information Infrastructure Technology and Applications (IITA), will develop andapply high performance computing and communications technologies to improveinformation systems needed to address what we call "Nation al Challenges"--majorsocietal needs that computing and communications technology can help usaddress--and include design and manufacturing, health care, education, digitallibraries, environmental monitoring, energy demand management, public safety,and national security. These National Challenges are analogous to the "GrandChallenge" research problems which have been the primary focus of the HPCCProgram to date. In addition to addressing these problems, this new componentwill support the development , with industry, of the NII and the development ofthe computer, network, and database technology needed to provide appropriateprivacy and security protection for users.

Components of the HPCC Program

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

1. HPCS (High Performance Computing Sys tems) - - I ts goal is to extend U.S. technological leadership in high performancecomputing through the development of scalable computing systems, withassociated software, capable of sustaining at least one trillion operations persecond (teraops) performance. Sca lable parallel and distributed computingsystems will be able to support workstation users through the largest- scalehighest- performancesystems. Workstations will extend into portable wireless interfaces astechnology advances.

2. NREN (National Research and Education Network) -- Its goal is to extend leadership in computer communications by a program of research anddevelopment that advances the leading edge of networking technology andservices. NREN will widen the research and educatio n community's access tohigh performance computing and research centers and to electronic informationresources and libraries. This will accelerate the development and deploymentof networking technologies by the telecommunications industry. This includ esnationwide prototypes for terrestrial, satellite, wireless and wirelinecommunications systems, including fiber optics, with common protocol supportand application interfaces.

3. ASTA (Advance Software Technology and Algorithms) - - Its purpose is to demo nstrate prototype solutions to Grand Challenge problemsthrough the development of advanced algorithms and software and the use of HPCCresources. Grand Challenge problems are computationally intensive problemssuch as forecasting weather, understanding climate changes, improvingenvironmental quality, building more energy- efficientcars and airplanes, designing better drugs, and con ducting basic scientificresearch.

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 theinfrastructure through the add ition of HPCC resources. Initiation of pilotprojects for K- 12and lifelong learning will support expansion of the NII.

5. I ITA (Information Infrastructure Technology and Applications) - - Its purpose is to demonstrate prototype solutions to National Challengeproblems using HPCC enabling technologies. This will support integratedsystems technology demonstration projects for critical N ational Challengeapplications through development of intelligent systems interfaces. These willinclude systems development environments with support for virtual reality,image understanding, language and speech understanding, and data and objectbases for electronic libraries and commerce.

Close cooperation between the federal government and industry is essential iftechnology developed by the HPCC Initiative is to be effectively used to buildan advanced NII. Both individually and as members of the HPCC Initiative, theparticipating agencies collaborate with industrial partners, fund research anddevelopment in the private sector, and work together to plan the HPCC Program.In addition, my office is working on a High Performance Computing Ad visoryCommittee consisting of representatives from the private sector and academiaand we note with approval your proposed legislation's broadening of themembership of the advisory group to include representation from the K-12education community and fr om consumer and public interest groups.

Agency Roles in the HPCC Program

The HPCC Program has been a model of how Federal agencies with differentmissions can work together effectively toward a common goal. The participatingagencies have built a coherent, coordinated program that is far greater thanjust the sum of its parts. They have eliminated wasteful duplication of effortand 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 todate, the implementation plans, and the FY 1994 proposed activities for theagencies that take part in the HPCC Program. No single ag ency has expertise inall areas of HPCC technology; each plays an essential role. Agenciesparticipate in the HPCC Program in support of their individual missions,overall Program goals, or both. The agencies and their roles (as outlined in arecent OST P summary of the FCCSET programs) are:

-- The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) coordinates the advancedcomputing and networking technologies needed by the Program. ARPA supportsprojects throughout academia and industry to accelerate inno vation and thetransition of advanced concepts into new technologies for use within theProgram and the defense and national technology base. The projects aredeveloping the full range of technologies needed for a scalable technology baseof interoperati ng workstations, networks, and parallel computing systems withmass storage, systems software and development tools. This technology willenable a rapid transition from concepts to computational and integrated systemsolutions in an open heterogeneous co mputing environment. This will enablesolution of the Grand Challenges and other National Challenges while providingthe foundation for a NII.

-- The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports advanced fundamental researchin HPCC technologies and their application to science and engineering problems.While coordinating the NREN component, NSF is upgrading NSFNET backboneservices, deploying networking information services, increasing networkconnections, and expanding gigabit research and develop ment. NSF supercomputercenters are collaborating towards a "metacenter." NSF enables coordinatedapproaches to Grand Challenge problems, and addresses algorithm and softwaretechnology issues and providing computational research and educational programs from the secondary schools through the postdoctoral level. Expanded IITAresearch includes distributed databases and digital libraries, multimediacomputing and visualization, and image recognition.

-- The Department of Energy (DOE) funds HPCC re search on parallel systems,software, and gigabit networks technology. It funds Grand Challenge researchin future energy sources, fusion energy, combustion, environmental remediation,ground water flow, petroleum reservoir modeling, atmospheric and ocea nmodeling, and structural biology. DOE supports high performance computingcenters and the Energy Sciences network, ESNET. Collaborations between DOEinvestigators and industry include a joint effort by DOE, NASA, six majorindustrial firms to establis h the National Storage Laboratory, which addressesthe pressing mass data storage problems. The DOE has education and trainingprograms in computational sciences and other HPCC technology areas forsecondary schools through the doctoral level. IITA rese arch includes areassuch as energy demand management and telecommuting.

-- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) high performancecomputing centers address Grand Challenge problems such as improving advancedaerospace vehicles (including high speed civil transport); simulating an entirevehicle through the full flight envelope; advanced robotics for spaceexploration; modeling the interactions among the atmosphere, oceans, and landmasses; deploying NASA's high performance NREN ; and managing huge volumes ofspace data. NASA coordinates the ASTA component's software sharing activity,and participates in gigabit network research. NASA conducts educational pilotprograms with elementary and secondary schools and supports univer sityresearch. IITA efforts include increasing accessibility of remotely senseddata and developing technologies to manipulate these large volumes of data.

-- The National Institutes of Health (NIH), through its National Library ofMedicine, Natio nal Center for Research Resources, Division of Computer Researchand Technology, and the Biomedical Supercomputer Center of the National CancerInstitute, develops algorithms and software in molecular biology (includingcomparison of genetic and protein s equence data) and biomedical imaging forhigh performance systems; develops prototype biomedical digital imagelibraries; provides NREN access to researchers and medical centers; supportstraining at all levels in high performance computing for medical a pplicationsand provides fellowships in medical informatics. NIH IITA efforts will expandtechnology development for telemedicine, medical record management, and medicalimagery.

-- The National Security Agency (NSA), Department of Defense, conduc ts researchin all aspects of highly heterogeneous computing environments, includingspecialized high speed hardware. NSA focuses on interoperability, increasedperformance, network and computer security, mass storage, and gigabit networks.NSA promotes r esearch in high performance computing including superconductivityand ultra high- speed- switchingat its own facilities, in industry, and at universities.

-- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department ofCommerce, conducts Grand Ch allenge research in climate prediction and weatherforecasting, and archives and disseminates environmental data, includingclimatic data for the Global Change Research Program. By exploiting thecomputing power of scalable parallel systems, global ocean and atmospheremodels will accurately represent weather fronts and ocean eddies, anddistortions due to clouds can be eliminated. In support of this research, NOAAis acquiring scalable systems and enhancing NREN connectivity. Within the IITAcomponent , NOAA is investigating environmental monitoring, prediction andassessment applications, and expanding efforts to make its environmental datamore accessible.

-- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducts Grand Challenge researchin air an d water pollution management and in ecological assessment in adistributed, heterogeneous high performance computing environment. Theresearch focuses on improving environmental decision-making and policy supporttools, improving NREN connectivity, and d eveloping and implementing trainingprograms, particularly for state and environmental groups. EPA is integratinguser-friendly advanced assessment tools into a high performance computingenvironment, which will include a scalable parallel system to enab le morecomplex multipollutant and multimedia assessments.

-- The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Department ofCommerce, develops instrumentation and performance measurement methods for highperformance computing and netwo rking systems; develops security policies andtechnologies for the NREN; facilitates the development of appropriatevoluntary standards; and designs and implements methods for organizing,documenting, and disseminating software. As coordinating agency formanufacturing applications for the IITA component, NIST will establish anadvanced manufacturing systems and networking testbed. NIST will work closelywith DOC's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).NTIA has a key role in developing Federal telecommunications policy and fundingnetworking pilot projects at schools, libraries, hospitals and health careproviders, and other non-profit institutions.

-- The Department of Education (ED) sponsors program initiatives an