The need for a federal high-performance computing network has been presented before several congressional committees over the last several weeks. Championing the cause is Senator Albert Gore, Jr.(D-TN), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Space and Technology. Gore has been trumpeting the creation of computer “superhighways,” which would link supercomputers at universities, national laboratories and in industry and have the capability of transmitting 1000 times more data per second than current networks. The National High-Performance Computer Technology Act (S.1067) was introduced by Gore in May 1989 and authorizes $1.75 billion over 5 years for the program.

The proposed program would involve the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Department of Energy and Department of Defense. Other agencies such as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, National Institutes of Health and Library of Congress would also play important roles. Gore's bill authorizes specific funds for the NSF in this area; however, to gain authorization for the program for some of the other agencies' “companion” bills must be introduced.