Cybergroup urges better coordination of R&D funds

The federal government should not have disbanded the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) last month because it has left major cyber research and development priorities up in the air, according to the Cyber Security Industry Alliance, an advocacy group for protecting cyberspace.

"The recent lapse of the PITAC is yet another blow to the R&D community," the alliance said in a news release. "The loss of this independent committee's expertise and advice reduces the priority level of cybersecurity R&D, and it will continue to dissipate without an advisory body or another leader to oversee R&D."

The alliance released a 13-page white paper July 25 urging the Bush administration and Congress to designate a single entity to coordinate cybersecurity R&D?most likely the new assistant secretary for cybersecurity and telecommunications in the Homeland Security Department?and to prepare a long-term cybersecurity R&D plan, with increased federal funding to carry it out.

Federal cybersecurity funding in 2004 was $238 million. But the bulk of that, $174 million, was for short-term, "production-based" projects rather than long-term research, and only $64 million was allocated for long-term research, the alliance said. More than two-thirds is for military and intelligence cybersecurity.

Total cybersecurity R&D funding is split among the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which receives about $50 million to $100 million annually for classified work, $30 million for the National Science Foundation, $18 million for Homeland Security and $17 million for the Advanced Research and Development Agency, the report said.

However, the programs would benefit if there were a single, central entity coordinating them, the alliance recommended.

The alliance suggests that the new Homeland Security assistant secretary is the "logical choice" for coordinating the programs. However, it also notes that DHS is a participating agency, but not a formal member of, the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program, which is an organization with more than a dozen federal agency members.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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