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Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I rise in support of H.R. 3834, the Advancing America's Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act of 2012.
H.R. 3834 is a good bipartisan bill which I was pleased to join Chairman Hall in introducing. It is largely based on the 2009 House-passed bill that was introduced by then-Chairman Gordon and Ranking Member Hall. But the current bill also includes some updates from the 2009 bill that appropriately reflect changes to the networking and information technology landscape, as well as policy and management recommendations made by an outside panel of experts charged with evaluating the NITRD Program.
The NITRD Program, as it is known, involves the collaboration of 15 Federal research and development agencies, each contributing its own unique expertise. To ensure that we make the most effective use of our Federal R&D resources and remain a leader in these fields, H.R. 3834 requires that all 15 agencies come together to develop and periodically update a strategic plan for Federal investments in NIT R&D.
H.R. 3834 calls for increased support for large-scale, long-term interdisciplinary research in NIT that will help us tackle national challenges such as improving the effectiveness and efficiency of our health care and energy-delivery systems. The bill also promotes partnerships between the Federal Government, academia, and industry to foster technology transfer.
In particular, I would like to highlight this bill's role in ensuring that the education of a future NIT workforce remains an important component of the NITRD Program.
I am hearing every day from small and large companies alike that the demand for skilled American IT professionals is higher than the supply. We hear the same message from university faculty who tell us that computer science graduates are snatched up the moment they graduate even while we're in the midst of a recession. This gap between supply and demand exists, despite the fact that these jobs are among the highest paying and most stable jobs out there.
It is imperative that we encourage more young Americans to pursue studies in NIT fields. In particular, because of the stark gender and racial gaps that we see in computer science programs, it is imperative that we encourage more young women and students of color to enter these fields. We simply cannot afford to ignore more than 50 percent of our Nation's brainpower.
H.R. 3834 doesn't go quite as far as I'd like it to go in addressing these education challenges, but it still sends an important message about the need to educate more of our students in NIT fields and provide the necessary authority for the agencies to play an appropriate role here.
Finally, since this is Cyber Week, I would be remiss not to mention that the NITRD Program serves as a coordinating and planning umbrella for all unclassified Federal cybersecurity R&D. Our committee addressed specific needs in cybersecurity R&D in a separate bill just considered today, but in doing so, we made sure that both the intellectual and financial resources for cybersecurity R&D are appropriately integrated into the rest of the Federal NIT portfolio. Information security R&D should not take place in its own silo. It bears on all network and information technologies.
In closing, NIT technologies cut across every sector of our economy and our national defense infrastructure. Our relatively modest 20-year investment in the NITRD Program has contributed immeasurably to our economic and national security by enabling innovation and job creation in NIT and providing American students with the skills to fulfill these jobs. Let's authorize this program today and ensure it remains strong.
I want to thank my friend, Chairman Hall, and his staff, especially Mele Williams, for working so collaboratively and openly with us on this good bipartisan bill. I'd also like to thank my staff, and in particular Dahlia Sokolov, for their hard work on the bill, and I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 3834.
I reserve the balance of my time.
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