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Full Cmte. - H.R. 2020, H.R. 1736, H.R. 1709

Thursday, May 21, 2009 - 10:00am
2318 Rayburn House Office Building

Opening Statement By Chairman Bart Gordon

I would like to thank Chairman Lipinski and Ranking Members Ehlers and other Members of the Research and Science Education Subcommittee for their work to improve these bills at the subcommittee level.

While the subject matter varies greatly, there is a common theme in all three of the bills before us today. They all strengthen an interagency coordination process to achieve a set of goals that no one agency can achieve on its own.

In fact, this theme cuts across many of the priorities of the Science and Technology Committee this Congress, beginning with the National Nanotechnology Initiative bill that passed the House in February, to the National Water Research and Development Initiative Act of 2009 that passed the House by a vote of 413 to 10 just last week.

H.R. 2020, the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act of 2009, continues to improve and update a program that was originally created by this Committee in the High Performance Computing Act of 1991.

The NITRD Program, as it is known, involves a collaboration of more than a dozen Federal research and development agencies for a current total federal investment of approximately $3.5 billion.

This may sound like a lot, but the European Union is investing $7 billion over the next five years in cyberphysical systems alone.

To ensure that we make the most effective use of our own resources to remain a leader in these fields, it is critical that these many agencies come together to develop common goals and well defined strategies for networking and information technology R&D.

H.R. 2020 strengthens the interagency strategic planning process, formally authorizes the National Coordination Office that oversees and enforces this process, and requires that a wide range of industry and academic stakeholders have input into the process. Given how rapidly this field evolves, a regular and comprehensive look at the NITRD program by Congress is timely.

I thank Mr. Hall for introducing this important piece of legislation with me and I urge my colleagues to support it.

H.R. 1736, the International Science and Technology Cooperation Act of 2009, would recreate a Committee under the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) to coordinate international S&T activities at our Federal agencies.

By bringing together the Department of State and the R&D agencies to focus on the international component of national R&D priorities, a similar committee in the 1990’s launched some important initiatives, most notably in the area of infectious diseases.

It is critical that we don’t miss opportunities to leverage our resources against those of other nations to tackle today’s greatest global challenges, including energy and water, and to strengthen the contribution of U.S. science and technology to our national security.

There is no existing entity whose primary purpose is to look across the federal government for such opportunities. I commend Dr. Baird and Dr. Ehlers for introducing this legislation and I urge my colleagues to support it.

H.R. 1709, The STEM Education Coordination Act of 2009, would strengthen and elevate an existing committee under NSTC to coordinate STEM education activities across the federal government.

When half the world’s workers earn less than $2 a day, we can not compete on numbers. To stay competitive, we must keep feeding the marketplace with new ideas that lead to new U.S. companies and new highly paying jobs. The foundation for this innovation economy is the 21st century skilled workforce.

The Federal government can play an important role in STEM education at all levels because of the richness of the S-and-T resources at our science agencies. It may not surprise you to learn that our science agencies have little idea what other science agencies are funding in terms of STEM education and often don’t even communicate between offices within a single agency.

This is not an acceptable situation.

Mr. Hall joined me in introducing this bill because we agree that agencies need to be sharing best practices with each other, evaluating their programs for effectiveness, and generally making more efficient and effective use of taxpayers’ dollars. I thank Mr. Hall, and the chair and ranking Member of the Research and Science Education Subcommittee for introducing this bill with me and I urge my colleagues to support it.

These are three good bipartisan bills that strengthen interagency coordination to, as President Obama said in his inaugural, make our government “smarter.” I thank my colleagues and staff for their hard work on these bills and I look forward to improving them even further with your amendments today.

HR 2020, the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act of 2009

HR 1736, the International Science and Technology Cooperation Act of 2009

HR 1709, the STEM Education Coordination Act of 2009

111th Congress