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The Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program (NITRD Program) is the primary mechanism by which the federal government coordinates its unclassified networking and information technology (NIT) research and development (R&D) investments. The National Coordination Office (NCO) for Networking and Information Technology Research and Development is responsible for coordinating the planning, budgeting, and assessment of activities of a multiagency federal NITRD Program. The NITRD Program also supports research in the socioeconomic implications of IT and in development of a highly skilled IT workforce.

The NITRD Program is authorized by Congress through the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991, the Next Generation Internet Research Act of 1998, and the America COMPETES Act of 2007. The NITRD Program is a multiagency coordination program that seeks to ensure continued U.S. technological leadership and accelerate deployment of advanced and experimental information technologies. Subcommittee members include representatives from 18 federal agencies or components, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), DOD, NSA, and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Research areas[]

The NITRD agencies work together in eight major research areas — called Program Component Areas (PCAs). In each PCA, agency program managers participate in an Interagency Working Group (IWG) or Coordinating Group (CG) that coordinates R&D activities and preparation of the annual Supplement to the President’s Budget for the NITRD Program.

The PCAs are:

The NITRD Program activities are also described under a set of:

  • four Senior Steering Groups (SSGs)[1]: Big Data SSG; Cyber Security and Information Assurance R&D SSG; Health Information Technology R&D SSG; Wireless Spectrum R&D SSG, and
  • a Community of Practice (CoP)[2]: Faster Administration of Science and Technology Education and Research (FASTER) Community of Practice (CoP).


The Program is a collaborative effort in which 18 federal agencies, including all of the large science and technology agencies, with many other federal entities participating in NITRD activities. The members of the NITRD Program are: Department of Commerce (DOC): National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); Department of Defense (DoD): Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), National Security Agency (NSA), Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and Service Research Organizations (Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Army Research Laboratory (ARL), Office of Naval Research (ONR); Department of Energy (DOE): National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA), Office of Science (DOE/SC); Department of Homeland Security (DHS); Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC); Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); National Science Foundation (NSF).[3]


Of those 13 members, the majority of funding, in descending order, goes to the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and DOE National Nuclear Security Administration.

Figure 1 illustrates the organizational structure of the NITRD Program.


Historical background[]

The NITRD Program has undergone a series of structural changes since its inception in 1991 and both it and has had a number of different names over the years. When the Program was created in December 1991, it was named the High-Performance Computing and Communications Program (HPCC). The name was changed to the National Coordination Office for Computing, Information, and Communications per the FY1997 Supplement to the President's Budget (also known at that time as the "Blue Book"). The name was changed to the National Coordination Office for Information Technology Research and Development per the FY2001 Blue Book. Most recently, on July 1, 2005, the name was changed to the National Coordination Office for Networking and Information Technology Research and Development. These changes were made to reflect the evolution of the program as it came to encompass a broader range of related topics.


  1. The SSGs allow a more flexible model for NITRD collaboration and are formed to focus on emerging issues as required by a mandate from OSTP. SSGs do not report an R&D budget under NITRD.
  2. The CoP's goal is to enhance collaboration and accelerate agencies' adoption of advanced IT capabilities developed by government-sponsored IT research.
  3. The history of agency participation can be found here.