[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 207 (Friday, October 29, 2021)]
[Pages 60021-60024]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-23582]



Stewardship of Software for Scientific and High-Performance 

AGENCY: Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR), Office 
of Science, Department of Energy.

ACTION: Request for information.


SUMMARY: The Office of Science (SC) in the Department of Energy (DOE) 
invites interested parties to provide input relevant to the stewardship 
of the software ecosystem for scientific and high-performance 

DATES: Written comments and information are requested on or before 
December 13, 2021.

ADDRESSES: DOE is using the www.regulations.gov system for the 
submission and posting of public comments in this proceeding. All 
comments in response to this RFI are therefore to be submitted 
electronically through www.regulations.gov, via the web form accessed 
by following the ``Submit a Formal Comment'' link near the top right of 
the Federal Register web page for this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information 
may be submitted to [email protected] or to Dr. Hal Finkel at 
(301) 903-1304.



    A complex ecosystem of software, covering a broad spectrum from 
end-user scientific software through middleware and system software, 
has become a keystone capability for science and engineering. The 
continued advancement of this ecosystem is being driven by many 
factors, including but not limited to, increasing needs for

[[Page 60022]]

realism and precision, increasing sophistication of scientific 
techniques, rapid and diverse evolution of high-performance computing 
and storage hardware, the obligations to protect private information 
and ensure the integrity of scientific results, and the requirements 
associated with the processing of unprecedently-large quantities of 
data. Meeting the future needs of both ASCR's research program and the 
computational-science performed in service of the nation's scientific 
enterprise depends on leveraging a sophisticated, highly 
interconnected, professionally developed software ecosystem resulting 
from substantial past investments. Through the efforts of a large 
community of scientists, engineers, and software professionals, that 
ecosystem continues to evolve due to advances in scientific methods, 
advances in computing technology, advances in artificial intelligence, 
and advances in software-development best practices.
    The Exascale Computing Project (ECP),\1\ in implementing the 
priorities of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI), has 
created a software ecosystem enabling scientific computing to take 
advantage of the next-generation supercomputing hardware being deployed 
across the DOE National Laboratory complex. While the development 
priorities of all ECP-developed software have been heavily influenced 
by the needs of ECP's application projects, ASCR anticipates that, with 
appropriate stewardship, the ECP-developed software stack \2\ will be 
useful across the national scientific- and high-performance-computing 
user communities on systems large and small. ECP-developed software and 
other ASCR-funded software contributes significantly to the overall 
ecosystem for scientific and high-performance computing, which also 
includes additional capabilities for machine learning, workflow 
orchestration, data management and analysis, and high-throughput 
computing. Critically, current and future research and development 
addressing DOE SC's mission priorities builds on software within this 
ecosystem, both from ECP and other sources. ASCR's Advanced Scientific 
Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) formed a subcommittee in 2018 to 
identify the key elements of ECP that need to be transitioned into 
ASCR's research program or other new SC/ASCR initiatives after the end 
of the project to address opportunities and challenges for future high-
performance-computing capabilities.\3\ ASCAC's report, in response to 
this charge, Transitioning ASCR after ECP,4 states:

    \1\ For more information on the Exascale Computing Project, see 
    \2\ The Extreme-scale Scientific Software Stack (E4S) integrates 
and packages nearly all ECP-developed software technology, see 
    \3\ ASCAC charge letter dated September 6, 2018. Available from, 
    \4\ Transitioning ASCR after ECP, Report to the DOE Office of 
Science, Advanced Scientific Computing Research Program. Advanced 
Scientific Computing Advisory Committee. October 2020. Available 
from, https://science.osti.gov/ascr/ascac/Reports.

    We recommend that ASCR build a shared software stewardship 
program to leverage and build on the ECP developed ecosystem to 
develop, curate, harden, and distribute software essential for 
effective use of HPC systems. ASCR should collaborate with other DOE 
offices and select outside entities to support development of key 
applications, especially those which continue to defy attempts to 
address them at the exascale level of computing performance and 
problems involving edge computing. We recommend that the ECP 
collaboration models be extended as appropriate to hardware and 
independent software vendors to engage them early and substantively 
in new directions and that similar collaboration with university 
groups should be explored.

    ASCR seeks information on critical software dependencies, 
development-practice requirements, and other factors relevant to the 
development of a software stewardship model suitable for sustaining the 
software ecosystem for scientific and high-performance computing.
    Potential Scope: Scientific software stewardship is multi-faceted, 
potentially including, but not limited to:
     Training: Providing training on software-development best 
practices and the use of core software.
     Workforce support: Providing outreach and support 
activities to build and maintain a diverse, skilled workforce with 
opportunities for professional recognition and career advancement.
     Infrastructure: Providing infrastructure for software 
packaging, hosting, testing, and other common capabilities.
     Curation: Establishing governance processes and standards 
to enable resource allocation in the most-effective manner balancing 
stability with the need to satisfy evolving requirements.
     Maintaining situational awareness: Defining, publishing, 
and communicating understandable information about relevant software 
and its dependencies; collecting information from users and deployment 
requirements from facilities.
     Shared engineering resources: Providing software-
engineering resources to assist with maintenance activities of key 
projects, including triaging problems from testing and adjusting for 
new compilers; system-software and platform versions; and changing 
package requirements.
     Project support: Providing support for the continued 
development of key projects, including enhancing them to function 
efficiently on new hardware platforms; take advantage of emerging 
hardware and software technologies; comply with best practices; and 
otherwise provide high priority features desired by other users.
    Respondents of Interest: We are particularly interested in 
responses from researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs, including 
individuals from groups historically underrepresented in Science, 
Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) \5\ or from underserved 
communities; \6\ incubators and accelerators; investors and funders; 
businesses of all sizes; institutions of higher education; DOE National 
Laboratories and other agencies' federally-funded research and 
development centers (FFRDCs); \7\ other federal agencies; non-profit 
organizations, professional societies, and R&D consortia; and state, 
local, and

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tribal governments. Other respondents with relevant insights are 
welcome to respond. When responding to this RFI, please begin by 
describing how you, or your organization, are involved with activities 
that involve, or benefit from, the ecosystem of scientific and high-
performance-computing software.

    \5\ According to the National Science Foundation's 2019 report 
titled, ``Women, Minorities and Persons with Disabilities in Science 
and Engineering'', women, persons with disabilities, and 
underrepresented minority groups--blacks or African Americans, 
Hispanics or Latinos, and American Indians or Alaska Natives--are 
vastly underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, 
and math) fields. That is, their representation in STEM education 
and STEM employment is smaller than their representation in the U.S. 
population: https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf19304/digest/about-this-report; The Computing Research Association's Taulbee Survey, https://cra.org/resources/taulbee-survey/, specifically confirms 
underrepresentation of these same minority groups within computer-
science research.
    \6\ The term ``underserved communities'' refers to populations 
sharing a particular characteristic, as well as geographic 
communities, that have been systematically denied a full opportunity 
to participate in aspects of economic, social, and civic life, as 
exemplified by those listed in the definition of ``equity.'' E.O. 
13985. For purposes of this RFI, as applicable to geographic 
communities, applicants can refer to economically distressed 
communities identified by the Internal Revenue Service as Qualified 
Opportunity Zones; communities identified as disadvantaged or 
underserved communities by their respective States; communities 
identified on the Index of Deep Disadvantage referenced at https://news.umich.edu/new-index-ranks-americas-100-most-disadvantaged-communities/, and communities that otherwise meet the definition of 
``underserved communities'' stated previously.
    \7\ An authoritative list of all Federally Funded Research and 
Development Centers (FFRDCs) may be found at https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ffrdclist/.

    The information received in response to this RFI will inform, and 
be considered by, the Office of Science in program planning and 
development. Please be aware that this RFI is not a Funding Opportunity 
Announcement, a Request for Proposals, or other form of solicitation, 
or bid of DOE to fund potential research, development, planning, 
centers, or other activity.

Request for Responses

    ASCR is specifically interested in receiving input pertaining to 
any of the following topics and questions. These categories of 
questions are arranged such that the questions near the beginning of 
the numbered list focus on requirements specific to individual 
respondents, and questions near the end of the list focus on 
requirements for the overall stewardship effort. Please be as specific 
as possible in your response.
    (1) Software dependencies and requirements for scientific 
application development and/or research in computer science and applied 
mathematics relevant to DOE's mission priorities:
    What software packages and standardized languages or Application 
Programming Interfaces (APIs) are current or likely future dependencies 
for your relevant research and development activities? What key 
capabilities are provided by these software packages? What key 
capabilities, which are not already present, do you anticipate 
requiring within the foreseeable future? Over what timeframe can you 
anticipate these requirements with high confidence? What are the most-
significant foreseeable risks associated with these dependencies and 
what are your preferred mitigation strategies? When responding to these 
questions, please describe the scope of the relevant research and 
development activities motivating the response.
    (2) Practices related to the security and integrity of software and 
    What strategies and technology do you employ, or intend to employ 
in the foreseeable future, to ensure the security and integrity of your 
software and its associated provenance metadata? What capabilities do 
you provide, or intend to provide in the foreseeable future, to assist 
users of your software with ensuring scientific reproducibility, 
recording the provenance of their work products, securing their 
information, protecting the privacy of others, and maintaining the 
integrity of their results?
    (3) Infrastructure requirements for software development for 
scientific and high-performance computing:
    What infrastructure requirements do you have in order to 
productively develop state-of-the-art software for scientific and high-
performance computing? These requirements might include access to 
testbed hardware, testing allocations on larger-scale resources, 
hosting for source-code repositories, documentation, and other 
collaboration tools. What are the key capabilities provided by this 
infrastructure that enables it to meet your needs? What key 
capabilities, which are not already present, do you anticipate 
requiring within the foreseeable future? Over what timeframe can you 
anticipate these requirements with high confidence? What are the most-
significant foreseeable risks associated with this infrastructure and 
what are your preferred mitigation strategies? When responding to these 
questions, please describe the scope of the relevant research and 
development activities motivating the response.
    (4) Developing and maintaining community software:
    How much additional effort is needed to develop and maintain 
software packages for use by the wider community above the effort 
needed to develop and maintain software packages solely for use in 
specific research projects or for internal use? What tasks are the 
largest contributors to that additional effort? What are the largest 
non-monetary impediments to performing this additional work? How is any 
such additional effort currently funded? How does that funding compare 
to a level of funding needed to maximize impact?
    (5) Challenges in building a diverse workforce and maintaining an 
inclusive professional environment:
    What challenges do you face in recruiting and retaining talented 
professionals to develop software for scientific and high-performance 
computing? What additional challenges exist in recruiting and retaining 
talented professionals from groups historically underrepresented in 
STEM and/or individuals from underserved communities? What challenges 
exist in maintaining inclusivity and equity \8\ in the development 
community for scientific and high-performance-computing software? What 
successful strategies have you employed to help overcome these 
challenges? What opportunities for professional recognition and career 
advancement exist for those engaged in developing scientific and high-
performance-computing software?

    \8\ The term ``equity'' means the consistent and systematic 
fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including 
individuals who belong to underserved communities that have been 
denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, and Indigenous and 
Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and 
other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, 
gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with 
disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise 
adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality. Executive 
Order 13985, ``Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved 
Communities Through the Federal Government'' (January 20, 2021).

    (6) Requirements, barriers, and challenges to technology transfer, 
and building communities around software projects, including forming 
consortia and other non-profit organizations:
    ASCR recognizes that successful software for scientific and high-
performance computing often has many stakeholders, including academic 
research activities, research laboratories, and industry. Moreover, 
while DOE has provided funding for the development of a significant 
number of foundational software packages within the modern software 
ecosystem for scientific and high-performance computing, as the 
complexity of the software ecosystem continues to increase, and number 
of stakeholders has grown, ASCR seeks to understand how it might 
encourage sustainable, resilient, and diversified funding and 
development models for the already-successful software within the 
ecosystem. Such models include, depending on circumstances that ASCR 
seeks to better understand, both the private sector and non-profit 
organizations. Non-profit organizations include both charitable 
organizations (e.g., those with 501(c)(3) status) and R&D consortia 
(e.g., those with 501(c)(6) status). What are the important 
characteristics and components of sustainable models for software for 
scientific and high-performance computing? What are key obstacles, 
impediments, or bottlenecks to the establishment and success of these 
models? What development practices and other factors tend to facilitate 
successful establishment of these models?
    (7) Overall scope of the stewardship effort:
    The section labeled Potential Scope, mentioned earlier in the RFI, 
outlines activities that ASCR currently anticipates potentially 
including in future programs stewarding the software ecosystem for 
scientific and high-

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performance computing. Are there activities that should be added to, or 
removed from, this list? Are there specific requirements that should be 
associated with any of these activities to ensure their success and 
maximize their impact?
    (8) Management and oversight structure of the stewardship effort:
    What do you anticipate will be effective models for management and 
oversight of the scientific and high-performance-computing software 
ecosystem, and how would that management structure most-effectively 
interact with DOE and other stakeholders? In addition to DOE, who are 
the key stakeholders? How can the management structure coordinate with 
DOE user facilities and others to provide access to relevant testbed 
systems and other necessary infrastructure?
    (9) Assessment and criteria for success for the stewardship effort:
    What kinds of metrics or criteria would be useful in measuring the 
success of software stewardship efforts in scientific and high-
performance computing and its impact on your scientific fields or 
    (10) Other:
    What are key obstacles, impediments, or bottlenecks to progress by, 
and success of, future development of software for scientific and high-
performance computing? Are there other factors, issues, or 
opportunities, not addressed by the questions above, which should be 
considered in the context of stewardship of the ecosystem of software 
for scientific and high-performance computing?
    Comments containing references, studies, research, and other 
empirical data that are not widely published should include copies of 
the referenced materials. Note that comments will be made publicly 
available as submitted. Any information that may be confidential and 
exempt by law from public disclosure should be submitted as described 
    Confidential Business Information: Pursuant to 10 CFR 1004.11, any 
person submitting information he or she believes to be confidential and 
exempt by law from public disclosure should submit via email: One copy 
of the document marked ``confidential'' including all the information 
believed to be confidential, and one copy of the document marked ``non-
confidential'' with the information believed to be confidential 
deleted. DOE will make its own determination about the confidential 
status of the information and treat it according to its determination. 
Factors of interest to DOE when evaluating requests to treat submitted 
information as confidential include: (1) A description of the items, 
(2) whether and why such items are customarily treated as confidential 
within the industry, (3) whether the information is generally known by 
or available from other sources, (4) whether the information has 
previously been made available to others without obligation concerning 
confidentiality, (5) an explanation of the competitive injury to the 
submitting person which would result from public disclosure, (6) when 
such information might lose its confidential character due to the 
passage of time, and (7) why disclosure of the information would be 
contrary to the public interest.

Signing Authority

    This document of the Department of Energy was signed on October 22, 
2021, by Dr. J. Stephen Binkley, Acting Director, Office of Science, 
pursuant to delegated authority from the Secretary of Energy. That 
document with the original signature and date is maintained by DOE. For 
administrative purposes only, and in compliance with requirements of 
the Office of the Federal Register, the undersigned DOE Federal 
Register Liaison Officer has been authorized to sign and submit the 
document in electronic format for publication, as an official document 
of the Department of Energy. This administrative process in no way 
alters the legal effect of this document upon publication in the 
Federal Register.

    Signed in Washington, DC, on October 26, 2021.
Treena V. Garrett,
Federal Register Liaison Officer, U.S. Department of Energy.
[FR Doc. 2021-23582 Filed 10-28-21; 8:45 am]