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HR 2086 -- 02/15/2000

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Office of Management and Budget


February 15, 2000

H.R. 2086 - Networking and Information Technology Research
and Development Act

(Sensenbrenner (R) Wisconsin and 45 cosponsors)

The Administration supports several elements of H.R. 2086, but strongly urges that the bill be amended to conform the authorization levels to those requested in the President's FY 2001 Budget. The investment levels in the Budget will support the research needed to underpin advances in information technology that are critical to our Nation's current and future prosperity. The goals stated in H.R. 2086 can only be achieved by supporting the diverse research capabilities available in each participating agency.

The Administration acknowledges the improvements made to the bill to address the Administration's comments on earlier versions of the bill. The Administration will, however, continue to seek improvements to the bill as it progresses through the legislative process, including those described below.

The Administration is particularly concerned that without amendment, H.R. 2086 does not authorize adequate funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to expand its programs in software design, high end computing and communication, high confidence systems, human centered systems and other areas supporting the objectives of the bill. The Administration is concerned that the bill does not provide adequate support for the Department of Energy to enhance its efforts to produce the scientific computing, networking and collaboration tools, and simulation tools that researchers nationwide will require to address the scientific challenges of the next decade. H.R. 2086 also fails to provide authorizations for NASA, NOAA, and NIST adequate to allow those agencies to take full advantage of emerging information technology and contribute fully to this critical national research effort.

The Administration also is concerned about the provision requiring the NSF to conduct a study to assess foreign encryption technologies and domestic technologies subject to export restriction. The Administration recognizes the concerns of Congress in this area, but does not support a statutory mandate requiring a study by NSF. The Administration recently implemented significant changes to its encryption policy that remove export controls on most encryption products while still protecting important national security interests. Any encryption product can now be exported to businesses, private organizations, and individuals worldwide (except the seven terrorist-supporting states). The Administration has periodically updated encryption export controls to reflect changes in the market place and will continue to monitor the situation closely, including the question of foreign availability. This flexibility permits the proper balancing of commerce, privacy, national security, and public safety.

Language in H.R. 2086 permitting Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) to apply for NSF grants is not needed. NSF procedures, developed over many years, already permit FFRDCs "that can make unique contributions" to receive NSF funds.

The Administration supports an amendment to be offered by Representative Ralph Hall and Representative David Wu that would increase authorizations for FY 2001 for the National Science Foundation to the Budget request.

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