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Blog Entries from February 2011

NIST Helps to Accelerate Federal Government Adoption of Cloud Computing

Department of Energy diagram of cloud computing

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued two new draft documents on cloud computing for public comment, including the first set of guidelines for managing security and privacy issues in cloud computing. The agency also has set up a new NIST Cloud Computing Collaboration website to enable two-way communication among the cloud community and the NIST cloud research working groups.

Cloud computing is a way for nearly anyone or any organization with access to the Internet to rent computer power for applications and data storage from cloud providers who run large computers. Working on a cloud feels the same to users, but the cloud provider performs the many management activities required to keep computers operating and secure.

U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra asked NIST to accelerate the federal government’s secure adoption of cloud computing by leading efforts to develop standards and guidelines in collaboration with standards organizations, the private sector and other stakeholders. The release of these new publications and the new website are part of NIST’s work to fulfill that mission.

The publications include The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing, which documents years of NIST research on cloud computing, and Guidelines on Security and Privacy in Public Cloud Computing, which provides an overview of the security and privacy challenges for public cloud computing and presents recommendations that organizations should consider when outsourcing data, applications and infrastructure to a public cloud environment.

The new Cloud Computing Collaboration website, developed to foster the cloud community’s collaboration on the federal government’s secure adoption of cloud computing, provides information about NIST’s cloud computing program and invites public participation on working groups that address a wide range of cloud computing topics.

To comment on these reports, contribute to the Wiki, or get additional information, visit http://www.nist.gov/itl/csd/cloud-020111.cfm

Secretary Locke Announces 47 Percent Trade Surplus in the Travel and Tourism Industry

Secretary Locke convenes travel and tourism advisory committee

At a meeting of the Commerce Department’s Travel and Tourism Advisory Board today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced a 47 percent surge in the travel and tourism trade surplus in 2010; the surplus now exceeds $28 billion. The United States welcomed more than 55 million international visitors during the first 11 months of 2010, 11.4 million more visitors than the year before. While international visitation increased 10 percent, international visitor spending increased 11 percent to $122.7 billion. The travel and tourism industry employs nearly 8 million people across the United States.

During the meeting, Locke discussed the progress made on the president’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double exports by 2015 in support of several million U.S. jobs. Through November 2010, total U.S. exports were up 17 percent, and travel and tourism is on track to contribute to significant export growth.

“Travel and tourism continues to be one of the bright spots in the U.S. economy,” said Locke. “With a $28.3 billion trade surplus in the first 11 months of 2010, this industry has a huge role to play in helping our country answer President Obama’s call to double our exports by 2015 and win the future.”

The Board consists of 30 industry leaders from the travel and tourism industry who are appointed to advise Secretary Locke on matters relating to the industry and provide policy recommendations.  The Board was re-chartered in September 2009, and the current term will expire on September 3, 2011. 

Members of the Travel Facilitation Working Group presented a letter to Secretary Locke with 10 recommendations that address key visa and customer service issues, with the goal to increase the number of overseas international visitors to the U.S. to meet the current forecast of 36.7 million visitors by 2015, supporting job creation. |  Remarks

NIST Opens $20 Million Grant Competition to Support New Scientific Research Facilities

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has launched a new competition for grants to support the construction of new and expanded scientific research facilities at institutions of higher education and nonprofit scientific research organizations.

Through the NIST Construction Grant Program (NCGP), the agency expects $20 million to be available for grants ranging from $5 to $10 million over a period of no more than five years.

The program provides competitively awarded, cost-shared grants for the construction of new science research buildings or the expansion of existing buildings, including laboratories, test facilities, measurement facilities, research computing facilities and observatories. Proposed projects must complement the research goals of one or more of the department’s three science agencies: NIST, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). These agencies conduct research in measurement science, engineering, oceanography, atmospheric research and telecommunications.

Since 2008, NCGP has provided over $250 million in grant funding for new or expanded facilities at 24 institutions across the nation to pursue research in topics ranging from earthquakes and ocean ecology to nanoscale engineering and quantum physics.

Additional details of the competition, including deadlines, application procedures and requirements, are available at Grants.gov and the NCGP website. Read the full press release.