As was reported last Friday by Federal Computer Week, the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) , which was established during the Clinton adminstration, was not renewed after its authorization expired June 1st. This surprised not a few people, especially because no hint was given as to whether there is any intension to restart or reconstitute the group. But just the decision to let this important advisory body lapse, even temporarily, adds another note of alarm to a growing list of such notes that our community has been following over the past year.
Many past PITAC recommendations have been implemented in whole or in part, and they have validated the committee’s value in strengthening US IT efforts. The most recent report, released just last week, presented the work of PITAC’s Computational Science subcommitee, chaired by Dan Reed of the Univeristy of North Carolina. In his comments to CTWatch yesterday about the lamentable lapse in PITAC’s authorization, Dan reiterated the importance of the committee to the national IT agenda:
Today, I believe the U.S. faces substantial challenges to its long-term competitiveness and research leadership. The PITAC computational science report [from last week] reflects those concerns. We must be coordinated advocates for strategic planning and investment in the computing future. PITAC’s renewal is part of that process. Otherwise, as Santayana noted, we will be condemned to repeat the past.