Supercomputing bill set for House action next week

The House next week is expected to pass a bill to boost funding for supercomputing efforts at the Energy Department by $165 million, sending it to the president for signature. The legislation is slated for floor action Tuesday.

But House Science Committee aides said the measure, H.R. 4516, is only a piece of a larger effort needed by the U.S. government to keep the nation globally competitive.

The House passed a similar version by voice vote July 7, and the Senate passed an amended version by voice vote Oct. 10, just before lawmakers adjourned for the campaign season. They return to Washington next week for a brief post-election session focused primarily on federal spending and intelligence legislation.

The supercomputing bill would authorize $50 million in fiscal 2005, $55 million in fiscal 2006 and $60 million in fiscal 2007.

The version before the House next week has several small but substantive changes from the earlier version, according to a House aide. The supercomputing debate began in the Senate on a companion measure, S. 2176, but after the House passed its bill, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee acted on the House legislation.

Before the committee approved it, however, negotiations were held with House staff to draft a version both sides would like. That is the version the Senate ultimately passed.

The Senate removed a House provision that would authorize the National Science Foundation to support research into the societal implications of high-performance computing. One source said the provision arose from concerns by Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., about using such computers to create human-like "sentient beings."

The Senate also added a provision that would require Energy to establish a software development center, but the House negotiators opposed it, as they generally discourage the creation of new centers in lawmakers' districts that might be considered "pork," the House aide said.

House aides argued that supercomputing centers already exist and could work on software. A compromise changed some words so the provision could be interpreted as creating a "virtual" center rather than a physical structure, the aide said.

Negotiators also removed a requirement that the Energy secretary act through the department's Science Office. The department's National Nuclear Security Agency also uses supercomputing and is separate from the Science Office. The reference to the office was removed.

House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., has set his sights on the reintroduction early next year of a more comprehensive bill, H.R. 4218, to create a national, interagency, high-end computing program. The House passed the measure July 7, but it has languished in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee ever since, lacking a "champion" to push it through, the House aide said.

A high-end computing interagency process was created in a previous law, but "that process is largely broken," the aide said. For instance, an annual document intended to help appropriators by reporting agencies' spending on supercomputing now trickles out at the end of each fiscal year, not the beginning.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.