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Because each study’s focus is relatively narrow, neither should be used to make generalizations about the overall initiative. Recognizing, however, that these studies have been interpreted as broad indictments of the HPCCI, the committee will address in its final report the larger set of issues implied by the GAO and CBO reports, including the possibility of developing standards by which to judge overall HPCCI program performance.
Reorganization of Science Policy Activities
In early 1994, science policy activities in the executive branch were reorganized; broad oversight for the HPCCI is now provided by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) through its Committee on Information and Communication (CIC). The High Performance Computing, Communications, and Information Technology subcommittee and the National Coordination Office, both of which report to OSTP through the CIC, continue to promote ongoing cooperation among the involved HPCCI agencies. The NCO also continues as the external liaison and as the publisher of the annual “blue books.” The committee’s final report will examine the effects of the large number of committees associated with the HPCCI. The final report will also examine the recent reorganization’s effects on the NCO and on the initiative.
The HPCCI’s multiagency budget is more complex than it would be had the program been started from scratch within a single agency. While complexity is inherent in multiagency programs and budgets, it has added to the confusion about spending priorities and accomplishments for the initiative. When the High Performance Computing and Communications Initiative was proposed in the executive budget for FY 1992, the agencies involved identified from their existing FY 1991 activities a base that contributed to the goals of the program. According to Grand Challenges: High Performance Computing and Communications: The FY 1992 U.S. Research and Development Program, the “blue book” report accompanying the president’s budget, this initial base totaled $489.4 million.8 In each subsequent year, agencies have added to this base in two ways: (1) by identifying additional existing programs that contribute to HPCCI goals and (2) by reprogramming and relabeling agency funds to support relevant aspects of the HPCCI. To this base of “identified” activities, Congress has added some funding each year for new activities or the expansion of existing efforts.
The result is that the $1.1 billion requested for fiscal 1995 is composed of three elements: (1) funds for the continuation of agency activities that were in existence when the HPCCI started and were designated in the 1992 base budget, (2) funds for existing or redirected programs that have since been designated as being a part of the HPCCI, and (3) additional funds for new activities or expansion of existing efforts. It is difficult to determine exactly how large each element is and to make interagency comparisons, because each agency has used slightly different approaches for identifying existing efforts and somewhat different formats for supporting program and budgetary detail. The committee will more closely examine the financial aspects of the HPCCI in its final report.