Committee Approves Bills to Improve Collaboration, Coordination in IT R&D, International S&T, STEM Ed
(Washington, DC) — Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology approved legislation to improve networking and information technology, international science and technology cooperation, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.
H.R. 2020, the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act of 2009, or the NITRD Act, passed the Committee by voice vote. This legislation, introduced by Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), improves the NITRD program by strengthening its interagency strategic planning process and requiring input on the process from a wide range of industry and academic stakeholders.
“The NITRD Program involves a collaboration of more than a dozen federal research and development agencies for a current total federal investment of approximately $3.5 billion. 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,” stated Gordon. “Given how rapidly this field evolves, a comprehensive look at the NITRD program by Congress is timely.”
The Committee approved amendments from Chairman Gordon, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Rep. Ben Lujan (D-NM).
“Computing, networking, and information technology—and the innovations they yield—are critical to our American economy. Unfortunately, the current education pipeline does not meet the demands of these crucial industries,” said Woolsey. “My amendment would strengthen computer science curricula, and expose and attract a more diverse population of students to this vital area of study.”
“My amendment promotes collaboration between federal laboratories, higher learning institutions, and industry—so that laboratories and higher learning institutions’ research and development activities can assist industry’s commercial development efforts. Our national labs are making tremendous technological advances every day, and we must take advantage their discoveries and support their innovative research programs to renew America’s economic competitiveness,” said Lujan.
The Committee also approved H.R. 1736, the International Science and Technology Cooperation Act of 2009. H.R. 1736 passed the Committee by voice vote. This bill, introduced by Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA), recreates a committee under the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) to coordinate the international science and technology activities across our federal agencies.
“Science diplomacy has a major role to play in our nation’s foreign policy. This bill takes an important step forward by providing American scientists access to the best research, and research sites from around the world,” said Baird. “By working together, these world class minds will be able to advance both U.S. and international interests in the search for solutions to the problems created by global overheating, infectious diseases and other problems that could directly affect the security of our country and the daily lives of the American people.”
H.R. 1709, the STEM Education Coordination Act of 2009, passed the Committee by a voice vote. This bill, authored by Chairman Gordon, strengthens and elevates 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 cannot 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 science and technology resources at our research agencies,” added Gordon.
The Committee approved amendments from Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH).
“The STEM Education Coordination Act of 2009 will improve our efforts to strengthen federally-funded STEM education by better coordinating different agencies’ efforts,” said Johnson. “My amendment increases the accountability provisions of the bill, ensuring that the Office of Science and Technology Policy has the authority to monitor the progress we make in improving STEM education nationwide.”
“I am proud to offer an amendment that will examine the steps we need to take in order to increase minority student participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” said Edwards. “We must be intentional in our efforts to ensure that all our young people are competitive with the rest of the world in the 21st century economy.”
“As we think of STEM education, we must acknowledge that children who are taught by educators with proper professional development and mentored by STEM professionals are more likely to succeed in this increasingly technologically advanced society. In issuing my amendment, I recognized these facts and asked that the National Science and Technology Council’s annual report detail how we can better disseminate federal STEM resources to our nation's STEM teachers,” stated Fudge.