The following is a Dear Colleague Letter from the National Science Foundation‘s Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), regarding the outcome of the Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (ACI) positioning review.
As you may recall, in 2013, the Office of Cyberinfrastructure (OCI), which was then part of the NSF Office of the Director, was re-aligned into the CISE directorate as the Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (ACI). That realignment did not change the mission of OCI/ACI; ACI has continued to support and coordinate the development, acquisition, and provision of state-of-the-art cyberinfrastructure resources, tools, and services essential to the advancement and transformation of science and engineering, along with forward-looking research and education to expand the future capabilities of research cyberinfrastructure.
Earlier this year, NSF Director Dr. France Córdova announced that NSF would conduct a review of ACI’s position within the Foundation, along with a similar review for the Division of Polar Programs (PLR), which was re-aligned within GEO in 2013, now that there exist several years of experience operating in this new configuration. This review sought to be forward-looking and data-driven. In the case of ACI, a Dear Colleague Letter was issued in May 2016 (see https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2016/nsf16090/nsf16090.jsp) seeking broad community input. Relevant data about proposals, awards, and budgets spanning FY 2011-15 were also published (https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2016/nsf16090/nsf16090.jsp).
At the November 2016 meeting of the National Science Board, Dr. Córdova announced the findings of that review and the decision regarding the placement of ACI and PLR (the archived webcast is available at http://www.tvworldwide.com/events/nsf/161108/default.cfm). Here is a quick summary of the findings and discussion as they relate to ACI:
- Much of the community input received as part of this review process noted the tremendous and increasing importance of advanced cyberinfrastructure to all of science and engineering, to NSF, and to the Nation.
- The input received from the community was characterized along three dimensions: management, budget, and leadership. On management, the Director noted, “All evidence to date suggests that both units [ACI and PLR] are well-managed in their present positions within directorates of the agency.” On budget, she stated, “Both the PLR budget and the ACI budget have tracked with the budgets of their respective directorates.” With regard to leadership, Dr. Córdova highlighted the importance of “visibility of these units among peer entities, direct interactions with leaders in the field, and access to the NSF Director and senior leadership.”
- The outcomes of the ACI re-alignment review are summarized as follows:
- ACI will remain within CISE, and be renamed the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC). This change of title to “Office” explicitly acknowledges the crucial cross-foundational role of ACI (and now OAC), serving all of NSF and all of the science and engineering research community.
- The budget for OAC will continue to be set as it has in the past, through discussions involving leadership in OAC, in CISE, and in the Office of the Director.
- The OAC Office Director will actively participate in NSF’s senior management meetings, providing an OAC voice and visibility in key agency decisions.
- When the next OAC Office Director is to be selected, an open national search will be initiated, as is typically done for senior leadership positions such as Assistant Director appointments.
- The important role of the current Advisory Committee for Cyberinfrastructure (ACCI) was noted, reflecting the importance of research cyberinfrastructure across the agency and beyond. The ACCI will continue forward.
We want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the science and engineering and research cyberinfrastructure communities. Working together, you have developed forward-looking approaches to strategy and implementation that have enabled cyberinfrastructure to advance the frontiers of discovery. We look forward to working together to continue to co-design cutting-edge, use-inspired cyberinfrastructure that will drive scientific and engineering discovery well into the future.
Jim Kurose, NSF Assistant Director, CISE
Irene Qualters, NSF Office Director, Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure
Erwin Gianchandani, NSF Deputy Assistant Director, CISE