Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives this week voted in strong support of two bipartisan bills: the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD)Modernization Act of 2016 (H.R. 5312), introduced by Committee Member Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) and the NSF Major Research Facility Reform Act (H.R. 5049), introduced by Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.).
The NITRD Modernization Act implements several important policies to help lead the way for future technological innovations and modernize the NITRD Program. The NITRD Program was originally authorized by the High Performance Computing Act of 1991. It is the federal government’s primary research portfolio on transformative high-end computing, high-speed networking, high capacity systems software, cybersecurity, and related advanced information technologies.
This legislation establishes a strategic planning and review process for the NITRD investment portfolio with clear metrics and objectives. Further, this bill works to improve interagency as well as government and private sector coordination and communication. H.R. 5312 also focuses the NITRD investment portfolio on areas of national interest and increasing importance like data analytics, privacy protection and human-computer systems.
Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.): “These changes to current law will reduce bureaucracy and ensure that hardworking Americans’ taxpayer dollars are being used efficiently and effectively. Important to note, this legislation authorizes no new spending. Smart investments in information technology research and development are crucial for our nation. Work in related areas bolsters economic competitiveness and creates new industries and businesses; helps assure future national security, including cybersecurity; and creates the good-paying jobs we need for today and tomorrow.”
Watch Rep. LaHood’s full statement on H.R. 5312 here.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “This legislation assures that federal science agencies focus on networking and information technology priorities that are in the national interest and provides the coordinated R&D efforts necessary to improve cyber and data security nationwide. Better network security promotes U.S. competitiveness, enhances national security and creates high-tech jobs.”
Watch Chairman Smith’s full statement on H.R. 5312 here.
The NSF Major Research Facility Reform Act improves the management and oversight of major multi-user research facilities funded by the National Science Foundation. This bill ensures that taxpayer dollars are spent with transparency and accountability. Last September, the Committee learned that one of NSF’s largest projects, the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), was likely to be $80 million over budget and 18 months behind schedule. Thousands of taxpayer dollars for the project were spent on expenses such as a Christmas party, premium coffee service, professional lobbying, as well as liquor for office happy hours and trips to a high-end resort in France.
Last year, NSF Director France Córdova agreed to commission a study by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) to take a closer look at how NSF could better manage large-scale projects. In February, the Committee heard from the NAPA study committee’s project director about 13 recommendations NAPA made to improve NSF’s management and oversight of cooperative agreements. H.R. 5049 incorporates recommendations made by the NSF Inspector General, auditors, NAPA, and the Science Committee.
This bill enhances the role of the NSF Large Facilities Office (LFO) in project management, requires independent cost proposal analysis to ensure responsible construction budgets, requires incurred cost audits, increases agency control over contingency funds, and closes loopholes for management fees.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.): “As a former small business owner and the former director of a non-profit, I wholeheartedly understand the importance of accountability. The fact that NSF is mishandling American taxpayer dollars- with little consequence- is inexcusable. What is even more inexcusable is that NSF has received warnings about this kind of irresponsible spending over the past four years, and it has not taken adequate measures to resolve the matter.
“This bill will ensure that NSF makes the systematic changes necessary to restore confidence in federally-funded research projects, and that taxpayers can trust us with their money knowing that it will be spent in the manner intended.”
Watch Rep. Loudermilk’s full statement on H.R. 5049 here.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “All agencies, as well as their grantees and contractors, need to be held accountable for how they spend taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars. The basic responsibility of any government agency is to act in the national interest. H.R. 5049 will reduce waste, fraud, and abuse and make more resources available for quality basic research. This will lead to scientific discoveries, spur technological innovation, create new industries, and provide better jobs for Americans.”
Watch Chairman Smith’s full statement on H.R. 5049 here.