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National Coordination Office for High Performance Computing and Communications Archives

Identifier: MS C 621


Publications and reports, correspondence, meeting materials and minutes, conference and workshop materials, visual media used in presentations, and transcripts document Federal agency HPCC Program activities and accomplishments.


  • 1936-2017 (bulk 1980-2017)


59.46 Linear Feet (48 boxes + oversize)


Physical Location

Materials stored onsite. History of Medicine Division. National Library of Medicine

Language of Materials

Collection materials primarily in English

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access.

Copyright and Re-use Information

Donor's copyrights were transferred to the public domain.

Privacy Information

Archives and manuscript collections may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in any collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications for which the National Library of Medicine assumes no responsibility.

Biographical/Historical Note

By the early 1980s, U.S. Government leadership in high-performance computing was being challenged from abroad, especially by Japan. In the United States, seemingly insatiable demand on supercomputing resources came both from users at Federal labs conducting research to support agency missions and from researchers at U.S. universities conducting a wide-range of investigations, particularly in science and engineering, often for Federal agencies. DOE, NASA, NIST, NOAA, NSA, and NSF (all would become HPCC agencies), and U.S. universities and corporations were early purchasers of what were usually general-purpose supercomputing systems that were expensive to buy, house, and operate. In 1985 NSF funded the establishment of five supercomputer centers to serve the university community nationwide (rather than individual campuses), and States and corporations often helped procure the systems at those centers. NIH-funded university-based researchers often computed at the NSF-funded Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center. DOE's ESnet for the energy sciences, NASA Science Internet, and NSFNET were agency-funded coast-to-coast networks that connected their researchers to their supercomputer centers. R&D in computing, networking, and applications was often conducted in partnerships that included Federal agencies, U.S. universities, and U.S. industry.

Officially launched by the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991 (Public Law 102-194), the U.S. High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) Program was and is (with different names along the way) a coordinated multi-agency Federal R&D program. Its purpose "is to help ensure the continued leadership of the United States in high-performance computing and its applications." The Global Change Research Program, established by the Global Change Research Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-606), is the only other program of that type required by law.

The HPC Act was the culmination of efforts by Federal science agencies, research universities, computing systems manufacturers, telecommunications providers, the library community, and others. Those efforts included workshops, reports, HPCC activities within the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government, bills introduced in the U.S. Congress, and hearings and reports on those bills. For example, (D)ARPA, DOE, NASA, and NSF documented their growing need for "supercomputers" to tackle "Grand Challenge" science and engineering problems to address their agency missions, and for high-capacity, high-speed networks to connect the researchers that they funded to supercomputer centers. Reports often recommended improvements in procurement, access, design, capability, and algorithms and software, more trained personnel, and Federal coordination. Albert Gore Jr. (D-TN), a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1997 to 1985 and a U.S. Senator from 1985 to 1993, led the efforts that culminated in the passage of the Act, beginning with his Supercomputer Network Study Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-383). He introduced high-performance computing bills and held hearings on those bills in the 100th Congress (January 3, 1987-January 3, 1989), the 101st (1989-1991), and the 102nd (1991-1993).

The purpose of the HPC Act "is to help ensure the continued leadership of the United States in high-performance computing and its applications by [1] "expanding Federal support for research, development, and application of high-performance computing" in areas including a National Research and Education Network, information infrastructure including databases and access to supercomputers, software technology and tools, applications software, computing systems and subsystems, Grand Challenges, and basic research; promoting "greater collaboration among government, Federal laboratories, industry, high-performance computing centers, and universities"; and expanding "the number of researchers, educators, and students with training in" HPC and access to HPC resources and [2] "improving the interagency planning and coordination" of this Federal R&D "and maximizing the effectiveness of the Federal Government's high-performance computing efforts."

The Act states that the President of the United States "shall implement a National High-Performance Computing Program" and that the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President shall "provide for interagency coordination of the Program", "consult with academic, State, industry, and other appropriate groups conducting research on and using high-performance computing", and submit an annual report to Congress.

To implement its requirements, in September 1992 OSTP established the HPCC Program, a HPCCIT (adding Information Technology) Subcommittee, and the National Coordination Office (NCO) for HPCC, naming NLM Director Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg as the first NCO Director. Lindberg served as NCO Director until March 1995. He served as NLM Director from 1984 until retiring in 2015. The NCO was housed at NLM from September 1992 until it moved to NSF space in December 1995. The HPCCIT Subcommittee had been established in 1990 within the Executive Branch and reported to OSTP/FCCSET/CPMES, and NLM had been a member since its earliest days. After the NSTC succeeded the FCCSET in 1993, the HPCCIT reported to the NSTC Committee on Technology. President Bill Clinton and Vice President Gore strongly supported the HPCC Program during their two terms in office (1993-2001).

The eight original HPCC agencies had the following responsibilities:

  1. DARPA:R&D in fiber optic networking technologies (begun in 1969 with the invention of the TCP/IP protocol used in ARPAnet and then the Internet)
  2. NSF: Computing and networking infrastructure for university-based researchers in all science and engineering disciplines, including funding the operation of NSFNET and five supercomputer centers
  3. DOE: R&D on and evaluation of HPCC systems, computational research with emphasis on energy applications, computational science education; fund the operation of ESnet and supercomputer centers at DOE labs
  4. NASA: HPC R&D in computational science with emphasis on aerospace sciences, earth and space sciences, and remote exploration and experimentation; operate supercomputer center; fund NASA network operation
  5. NLM: Medical applications, medical computation, network access for academic medical centers, training and career development
  6. NIST: Measurement R&D for HPC systems and networks, interoperability standards and guidelines
  7. EPA: Research to advance and disseminate computational techniques and software tools for ecosystem, atmospheric chemistry, and atmospheric dynamics models
  8. NOAA: R&D in weather prediction and ocean sciences, particularly forecast models, computational fluid dynamics, support for agency missions; operate supercomputer centers

From FY 1992 through FY 1996 the HPCC Program was organized into five components:

  1. HPCS: High Performance Computing Systems
  2. NREN: National Research and Education Network
  3. ASTA: Advanced Software Technology and Algorithms
  4. BRHR: Basic Research and Human Resources
  5. IITA: Information Infrastructure Technology and Applications, added in FY 1994

By the end of FY 1996 the Program had achieved its two quantitative goals by demonstrating (a) teraflops (trillions of floating point operations per second) computing speed technologies and (b) gigabit (billions of bits per second) networking.

By design the Program is balanced across its components and of sufficient scope to meet Program goals, build on agency strengths, accelerate technology transfer, and overcome barriers, including cost barriers.

With different technologies evolving at different speeds, beginning in FY 1997 the Program was organized into Program Component Areas, each with its own goals and schedules:

  1. HECC: High End Computing and Computation, which in FY 2000 split in two -- High End Computing (HEC) Infrastructure and Applications (HEC I&A); HEC R&D
  2. LSN: Large Scale Networking
  3. HCS: High Confidence Systems, which in FY 2000 became High Confidence Software and Systems (HCSS)
  4. HuCS: Human Centered Systems, which in FY 2000 became Human Computer Interaction and Information Management (HCI&IM)
  5. ETHR: Education, Training, and Human Resources, which in FY 2000 became Social, Economic, and Workforce Implications of IT (SEW)
  6. SDP: Software Design and Productivity, added in FY 2000
  7. CSIA: Cyber Security & Information Assurance, added in FY 2007

In FY 2016, the successor Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Program implemented an amended HPC Act that added responsibilities. There were 14 NITRD agencies – NSF, DoD Service research organizations, DOE Office of Science et al, NIH, DARPA, NIST, NASA, Department of Homeland Security, NOAA, DOE/NNSA, HHS/AHRQ, EPA, National Institute of Justice, and NARA. The Program reorganized again effective FY 2017.

A founding HPCC agency, NASA led the coordination of HPCC R&D in systems software for scalable parallel systems and in demonstrating teraflops performance on those systems. NASA's own software focus was on Grand Challenge applications in computational aerosciences, computational Earth and space sciences, and remote exploration for space flight. NASA supercomputing centers at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Maryland and Ames Research Center (ARC) in California housed systems that were scaled up over time to support sustained teraflops performance on those applications. Through its innovations in performance-based award management, NASA accelerated productive use of experimental HPC systems by Grand Challenge research teams. NASA funded high-speed networks that connected those systems to each other and to Grand Challenge researchers in universities, industrial research centers, and government labs. NASA and NSF teamed to evaluate commercial parallel scalable HPC systems.

By assembling the first all-commodity Linux cluster in 1994, GSFC created a gigaflops workstation that was a less expensive alternative to proprietary hardware/software systems. This approach, called Beowulf, was soon adopted worldwide for sizes ranging to the most powerful.

NASA selected and funded the open-source Earth System Modeling Framework to reduce the software complexity and increase the interoperability of Federally-funded weather and climate modeling applications. The ESMF is now used worldwide for this purpose.

NASA participated in HPCC/IITA through its R&D in digital library technologies and remote sensing databases.

The Coalition for Academic Supercomputing Centers (CASC) was founded in 1989 to "further the development of a national infrastructure of large-scale computing and appropriate network resources" by the directors and other senior personnel at supercomputer center at U.S. universities. It began with 11 supercomputer centers in 10 states.

CASC later became the Coalition for Academic Scientific Computation, reflecting its expansion beyond "big iron" vector supercomputers to include parallel systems and then clusters, beyond supercomputer centers to include university-funded research programs, and to include Federal centers. As of 2017 CASC has 86 member organizations. Researchers – and their students – at CASC centers are funded by HPCC agencies including DARPA, DOE, NASA, NIH, and NSF. Four Federal labs with ties to nearby universities – Argonne with U. Illinois at Chicago, NERSC with UC-Berkeley, PNNL with U. Washington, and ORNL with U. Tennessee at Knoxville – have been CASC members. CASC members have over the years developed relationships with HPCC agencies; an example is NOAA with UT-Austin in hurricane projections including Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Representatives from HPCC agencies, especially NSF, DOE, NIH (especially NLM), DoD (especially DARPA), NASA, and OSTP have regularly spoken at the semi-annual CASC meetings.

Acronyms in this Biography/Historical Note are spelled out in the Access and Use section.

Collection Summary

Publications and reports, Congressional activities, meeting materials and minutes, Presidential Advisory Committee activities, conference and workshop materials, visual media used in presentations, correspondence, and transcripts document Federal HPCC Program and NCO/HPCC activities and accomplishments. The majority of materials in this archive were transferred from the NCO's original offices headquartered at NLM under the leadership of the NCO's first Director Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg; those documenting NASA and the Coalition for Academic Supercomputing Centers were compiled and donated by James R. Fischer and Susan Fratkin, respectively.

Together the collection represents materials about the need for what became the HPCC Program; the passage of the HPC Act of 1991 and subsequent bills, hearings, reports, and laws; the Program itself; and activities and publications of (a) the NCO, (b) HPCC agencies including NLM and NASA, (c) research universities, (d) the NREN and the Internet (ARPANET, predecessor to the Internet, had been created in 1969 by ARPA, an HPCC agency), (e) the President's IT Advisory Committee authorized in the 1991 Act, and (f) supercomputer centers, research labs, professional organizations including the Coalition for Academic Supercomputing Centers (CASC), corporations, and international organizations.


Publications and reports, correspondence, meeting materials and minutes, conference and workshop materials, visual media used in presentations, and transcripts document Federal agency HPCC Program activities and accomplishments.

Physical Location

Materials stored onsite. History of Medicine Division. National Library of Medicine


Transfer and gifts, Sally Howe (NLM/NCOHPCC), James R. Fischer (NASA), Susan Fratkin (CASC), 5/12/2017, Accession #2017-012.


Processed by
Sally E. Howe, Ph.D. (NIST 1980-1992, NCO/HPCC 1992-2007, NLM 2007-2017)
Processing Completed
Aug. 2017
Encoded by
John P. Rees


  1. ACCA: American Clinical and Climatological Association
  2. ACM: Association for Computing Machinery
  3. ACTS: Advanced Communications Technology Satellite
  4. AHCPR: Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (HHS)
  5. AHPCRC: Army HPC Research Center (DoD)
  6. AHRQ: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HHS, successor to AHCPR)
  7. AIMBE: American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering
  8. ALA: American Library Association
  9. AMIA: American Medical Informatics Association
  10. ANL: Argonne National Laboratory (DOE)
  11. ARC: Ames Research Center (NASA)
  12. ARL: Association of Research Libraries
  13. ARPA: Advanced Research Projects Agency (sometimes DARPA)
  14. ASC MSRC: Aeronautical Systems Center, Major Shared Resource Center (DoD)
  15. ATP: Advanced Technology Program (NIST)
  16. BAA: Broad Agency Announcement
  17. CACM: Communications of the ACM
  18. CAEL: Council for Adult and Experiential Learning
  19. CAS: Computational Aerosciences (NASA program)
  20. CASC: Coalition for Academic Supercomputing Centers (now the Coalition for Academic Scientific Computation)
  21. CAT: Committee on Applications and Technology (IITF and NIITF)
  22. CAVE: cave automatic virtual environment
  23. CCIC: Committee on Computing, Information, and Communications (a successor to HPCCIT Subcommittee)
  24. CCSF: Caltech Concurrent Supercomputing Facilities
  25. CDC: Center for Disease Control and Prevention (HHS)
  26. CDER: Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (FDA)
  27. CESDIS: Center of Excellence in Space Data and Information Sciences (NASA)
  28. CIC: Committee on Information and Communications (a successor to HPCCIT Subcommittee)
  29. CISE: Computer and Information Science and Engineering (NSF Directorate)
  30. CMU: Carnegie Mellon University
  31. CNI: Coalition for Networked Information
  32. CNRI: Corporation for National Research Initiatives
  33. CoSEPuP: Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (NAS/NAE/IOM)
  34. CPMES: Committee on Physical, Mathematical and Engineering Sciences (FCCSET)
  35. CRA: Computing Research Association
  36. CRPC: Center for Research on Parallel Computation (Rice U.)
  37. CRS: Congressional Research Service
  38. CSC and CSCC: Concurrent Supercomputing Consortium (Caltech)
  39. CSPP: Computer Systems Policy Project
  40. CSTB: Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (NRC)
  41. CTC: Cornell Theory Center (now the Cornell University Center for Advanced Computing (CAC)
  42. DARPA: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (sometimes ARPA) (DoD)
  43. DCRT: Division of Computer Research and Technology (NIH)
  44. DDR&E: Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DoD)
  45. DOC: Department of Commerce
  46. DoD: Department of Defense
  47. DOE: Department of Energy
  48. DOT: Department of Transportation
  49. ED: Department of Education
  50. EFDPMA: Education Foundation of the Data Processing and Management Association
  51. EIA: Electronic Industries Association
  52. EOP: Executive Office of the President
  53. EOSDIS: Earth Observing System Data and Information System (NASA)
  54. EPA: Environmental Protection Agency
  55. ESMF: Earth System Modeling Framework
  56. ESnet: Energy Sciences Network (DOE)
  57. ESS: Earth and Space Science (NASA program)
  58. ESTO: Earth Science Technology Office (NASA)
  59. FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
  60. FARNET: Federation of American Research Networks
  61. FCCSET: Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (OSTP)
  62. FDA: Food and Drug Administration (HHS)
  63. FLICC: Federal Library and Information Center Committee (LC)
  64. FNC: Federal Networking Council
  65. FNCAC: FNC Advisory Committee
  66. FNLM: Friends of NLM
  67. FY: Fiscal Year
  68. GII: Global Information Infrastructure
  69. GPO: Government Printing (later Publishing) Office
  70. GSA: General Services Administration
  71. GSFC: Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA)
  72. HCMDSS: High Confidence Medical Device Software and Systems
  73. HEC: High End Computing
  74. HHS: Department of Health and Human Services
  75. HIMSS: Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society
  76. HITIDE: Health IT Innovation and Development Environment (HITRD)
  77. HITRD: Health IT R&D (NITRD)
  78. HPC: High Performance Computing
  79. HPCC: High Performance Computing and Communications
  80. HPCCIT: High Performance Computing, Communications, and Information Technology
  81. HPCI: High Performance Computing Initiative
  82. HPCMO: High Performance Computing Modernization Office (DoD)
  83. HPCMP: High Performance Computing Modernization Program (DoD)
  84. HRSA: Health Resources and Services Administration (HHS)
  85. IDC: International Data Corporation
  86. IEEE: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
  87. IHS: Indian Health Service (HHS)
  88. II: Information Infrastructure
  89. IIREN: Interagency Interim NREN
  90. IITA: Information Infrastructure and Technology Act
  91. IITA: Information Infrastructure Technology and Applications
  92. IITF: Information Infrastructure Task Force
  93. IMIA: International Medical Informatics Association
  94. IOM: Institute of Medicine (NA)
  95. ISI: Information Sciences Institute (USC)
  96. ISO: Information Systems Office (DARPA)
  97. IT**2: Information Technology for the 21st Century
  98. ITAA: Information Technology Association of America
  99. ITO: Information Technology Office (DARPA)
  100. ITRD: Information Technology Research and Development
  101. IWG: Interagency Working Group
  102. JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association
  103. JAMIA: Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association
  104. JNNIE: Joint NSF-NASA Initiative in Evaluation
  105. JPL: Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA)
  106. KDI: Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence (NSF program)
  107. LANL: Los Alamos National Laboratory (DOE)
  108. LBNL: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (DOE)
  109. LC: Library of Congress
  110. LLNL: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (DOE)
  111. LSN: Large Scale Networking (HPCC)
  112. MAGIC: Multidimensional Applications and Gigabit Internetwork Consortium (ARPA)
  113. MCTC: Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation
  114. MEDLARS: Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System (NLM)
  115. MITI: Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Japan)
  116. MLA: Medical Library Association
  117. MPP: massively parallel processing
  118. NA: National Academies
  119. NACUBO: National Association of College and University Business Officers
  120. NAE: National Academy of Engineering (NA)
  121. NAP: National Academy Press, later National Academies Press (NA)
  122. NAP: Network Access Point (NSF)
  123. NARA: National Archives and Records Administration
  124. NAS: National Academy of Sciences (NA)
  125. NASA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  126. NASULGC: National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges
  127. NCAR: National Center for Atmospheric Research (sponsored by NSF)
  128. NCBI: National Center for Biotechnology Information (NLM)
  129. NCO: National Coordination Office
  130. NCSA: National Center for Supercomputing Applications (also National Computational Science Alliance)
  131. NEC: National Economic Council (White House)
  132. NEH: National Endowment for the Humanities
  133. NERSC: National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (LBNL)
  134. NGI: Next Generation Internet
  135. NHII: National Health Information Infrastructure
  136. NHSE: National HPCC Software Exchange
  137. NIH: National Institutes of Health (HHS)
  138. NII: National Information Infrastructure
  139. NIIAC: National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council
  140. NIIT: NII Testbed
  141. NIITF: NII Task Force
  142. NIST: National Institute of Standards and Technology (DOC)
  143. NITRD: Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (current successor to HPCC)
  144. NLM: National Library of Medicine (NIH)
  145. NNSA: National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE)
  146. NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (DOC)
  147. NPACI: National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure
  148. NRC: National Research Council (NAS)
  149. NREN: National Research and Education Network
  150. NREN: NASA Research and Education Network
  151. NSA: National Security Agency (DoD)
  152. NSB: National Science Board (for NSF)
  153. NSF: National Science Foundation
  154. NSFNET: NSF network
  155. NSTC: National Science and Technology Council (OSTP)
  156. NTIA: National Telecommunications and Information Administration (DOC)
  157. NTIS: National Technical Information Service (DOC)
  158. NTTF: Networking and Telecommunications Task Force (EDUCOM)
  159. NYT: New York Times
  160. OASC: Office of Advanced Scientific Computing (NSF)
  161. OCLC: Online Computer Library Center, Inc.
  162. OER: Office of Energy Research (DOE)
  163. OMB: Office of Management and Budget (EOP)
  164. OSTP: Office of Science and Technology Policy (EOP)
  165. OTA: Office of Technology Assessment (U.S. Congress, 1972-1995)
  166. PAC-HPCCITNGI: became the PITAC
  167. PCAST: President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (administered by OSTP)
  168. Petaflops: 10**15 floating point operations per second (flops)
  169. PHS: Public Health Service (HHS)
  170. PITAC: President's IT Advisory Committee (administered by OSTP, 1997-2005)
  171. PL: Public Law
  172. PNL: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (DOE)
  173. PSC: Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center
  174. RE&E: Remote Exploration and Experimentation (NASA program)
  175. RFC: Request for Comment
  176. RSNA: Radiological Society of North America
  177. S&ECWG: Scientific and Engineering Computing Working Group (HPCC)
  178. SBES: Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (NSF Directorate)
  179. SC: Supercomputing, a conference
  180. SCD: Scientific Computing Division (NCAR)
  181. SciDAC: Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (DOE program)
  182. SDSC: San Diego Supercomputer Center
  183. SIAM: Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
  184. STI: Scientific and Technical Information
  185. SURA: Southeastern Universities Research Association
  186. TA: Technology Administration (DOC)
  187. UCAID: University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development
  188. UCAR: University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
  189. UCSD: University of California at San Diego
  190. UIUC: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  191. USC: University of Southern California
  192. USDA: U.S. Department of Agriculture
  193. USRA: University Space Research Association
  194. USUHS: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
  195. UVA: University of Virginia
  196. VA: Department of Veterans Affairs
  197. vBNS: very high speed Backbone Network System (NSF)
  198. VR: virtual reality
  199. W. Post: Washington Post
  200. WAIS: Wide Area Information Server
  201. WEFA: Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates
  202. WSJ: Wall Street Journal
  203. WTEC: World Technology Evaluation Center, Inc.
  204. XIWT: Cross-Industry Working Team (CNRI)
Finding Aid to the National Coordination Office for High Performance Computing and Communications Archives, 1936-2017 (bulk 1980-2017)
Unverified Partial Draft
Sally E. Howe, Ph.D. (NIST 1980-1992, NCO/HPCC 1992-2007, NLM 2007-2017)
Aug. 2017
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English English
Edition statement

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collection Collecting Area

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