Microsoft, Intel officials rip pols for lack of federal R&D funding support

Intel Chairman Craig Barrett and Microsoft's new director of scalable and multicore computing, Dan Reed , are two top techies who are fuming about an Omnibus Appropriations package they say includes far too little additional funding for scientific research at a time when other countries around the world are getting more aggressive on the technology front.

In a San Francisco Chronicle column titled "Flagging economy needs science investments," Barrett writes that last year's America Competes Act and President Bush's American Competitiveness Initiative gave hope that the U.S. was going to step up its funding of basic research in math and sciences but that the recent House/Senate budget deal doesn't follow through. National Science Foundation funding, for example, would rise just 2.5% and NIST's labs would get about the same. Barrett went on to write

The United States stands at a pivotal point in our history. Competition is heating up around the world with millions of industrious, highly educated workers who are willing to compete at salaries far below those paid here. The only way we can hope to compete is with brains and ideas that set us above the competition - and that only comes from investments in education and R&D. Practically everyone who has traveled outside the United States in the last decade has seen this dynamic at work. The only place where it is apparently still a deep, dark secret is in Washington, D.C.

Separately, Microsoft's Reed has a piece in HPC Wire in which he weighs in on the budget package. He writes:

With a few notable exceptions, research and infrastructure funding will (at best) just keep pace with inflation. This does not bode well for computational and computer science.

Reed espouses not whining about it, however. He suggests supporters of additional federal funding work through the various tech organizations they belong to to speak with a unified voice to the powers that be. 

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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