Center for Information Technology


The Center for Information Technology's (CIT) mission is to provide, coordinate, and manage information technology and to advance computational science.

CIT supports NIH's research and management programs with efficient, cost-effective administrative and high-powered scientific computing, software development, networking, and telecommunications services. CIT also provides bioinformatics support through its scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. Among its activities, the CIT:

  • engages in collaborative research and provides collaborative support to NIH investigators in the area of computational bioscience
  • provides efficient, cost-effective information systems and networking services
  • provides state-of-the-art scientific and administrative computing facilities
  • identifies new computing technologies with innovative applications to biomedical research
  • creates, purchases, and distributes software applications
  • provides NIH staff with computing information, expertise, and training
  • provides data-processing and high-performance computing facilities, integrated telecommunications data networks, and services to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) and other Federal agencies
  • serves as a data center to HHS and other Federal agencies
  • develops, administers, and manages NIH systems and provides consulting services to NIH Institutes and Centers in support of administrative and business applications

Important Events in CIT History

1954—A central data-processing facility is established in the NIH Office of the Director under Dr. Harold Dorn, combining EAM (punched card) equipment and biometric expertise.

1956—The biometric facility becomes the Biometrics Branch in the new Division of Research Services (DRS).

May 1956—The NIH Director establishes a committee on electronic data processing and computers.

1958—NIH installs its first electronic digital computer as an experimental device.

March 1960—The U.S. Surgeon General approves the establishment of a Computation and Data Processing Branch in DRS.

October 1961—NIH installs its first "second generation" computer.

April 1963—The NIH Director appoints a steering committee to undertake a comprehensive study of data-processing activities at NIH.

The NIH steering committee recommends the establishment of a Division of Computer and Information Sciences, subsequently changed to the Division of Computer Research and Technology (DCRT), including provision for the transfer of the Computation and Data Processing Branch, DRS, to the new organization.

1964—DCRT is established, with James King as Interim Acting Director.

1966—Dr. Arnold W. Pratt is named DCRT's first Director.

April 1966—Components of the "third-generation" computer system are installed.

April 1969—NIH research community receives the first time-sharing computers.

June 1969—Minicomputers designed by DCRT are installed in NIH laboratories.

May 1979—An interagency agreement between the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare and the General Services Administration establishes the NIH Central Computer Utility as a Federal Data Processing Center.

April 1983—The Personal Workstation Project is founded to determine how effectively NIH personnel can use personal computers.

1988—The Convex Unix-based supermini-computer is installed, and the network task group is created.

1990—Extensive networking (NIHnet) is installed at NIH, providing connectivity for 60 local area networks.

March 1992—HHS Secretary Lewis Sullivan, in a letter to Congress, commits to creating a new office to improve management and coordination of NIH's information resources.

June 1992—The NIH Director approves creation of the Office of Information Resources Management (OIRM) in the NIH Office of the Director.

Dr. Francis W. Hartel is selected as the NIH Senior IRM official and the Director of OIRM.

September 1993—The Information Systems Security Officers committee is established to handle NIH IT security issues.

January 1994—DCRT celebrates its 30th anniversary.

February 1994—The NIH Help Desk is inaugurated to help NIH customers obtain computer-related information.

October 1994—OIRM sponsors the first NIH Internet conference on legal and policy issues related to the increased use of Internet resources.

May 1995—DCRT sponsors Internet Expo Day to help NIH staff discover the World Wide Web and its enormous potential to disseminate and exchange information.

June 1995—The NIH Director approves a revised charter for the IRM Council and increases its role in providing management leadership on NIH-wide information technology (IT) initiatives.

July 1995—OIRM, the National Science Foundation, and the World Wide Web Federal Consortium sponsor a Federal Webmaster workshop on legal, ethical, and security issues related to increased Web use by Federal agencies.

August 1995—The first NIH electronic store is established to provide efficient acquisition of personal computers, hardware, software, and online components to NIH personnel.

1996—A telecommunications committee is established to provide the IRM Council with advice about crosscutting telecommunication issues affecting a large number of NIH staff. Issues include telephone features and services, pagers, cellular services, video teleconferencing, remote access, audio conferencing, and switchboard operator services.

Responsibilities are shared by DCRT and the Telecommunications Branch located in NIH's Office of Research Services.

DCRT introduces a subscription-based program for the acquisition and distribution of brand-name software to NIH and HHS personnel, with the result of significant cost reduction for software licensing.

The NIH Director names Anthony Itteilag, the NIH Deputy Director for Management, to serve as interim NIH CIO.

Dona R. Lenkin is appointed to serve as OIRM Acting Director and alternate NIH CIO.

May 1996—The IRM Council establishes the NIH Year 2000 Work Group (Y2K) to provide NIH with leadership and direction on initiatives modifying computer systems and applications to accommodate problems related to a 2-digit date field.

June 1996—NIH's Computer Center is designated as a major HHS data center.

July 1996—The NIH Data Warehouse, which provides a one-stop-shop graphical user interface to NIH administrative and accounting information, is introduced to NIH.

August 1996—The Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996 (ITMRA, also known as the Clinger-Cohen Act) becomes effective. ITMRA assigns overall responsibility for the acquisition and management of government IT resources to the Director, Office of Management and Budget. Additionally, ITMRA gives authority to heads of executive agencies to acquire IT resources and directs agencies to appoint a Chief Information Officer (CIO) to provide advice to each agency on the effective management of IT investments.

September 1996—The NIH Director's leadership forum on the management of IT at NIH forms an IT Central Committee (ITCC) to provide recommendations on improving the management of NIH IT resources.

December 1996—A final ITCC report is submitted to the NIH Director. The report recommends appointing a CIO and combining DCRT, OIRM, and the Telecommunications Branch into a single organizational structure.

1997—A review of NIH's administrative structure, conducted in response to a request from Congressman John Porter (Ill.), is completed. The report recommends that the NIH implement the ITCC recommendations by appointing a permanent CIO and establishing a CIO organization.

NIH's first electronic magazine, LiveWire, is launched by DCRT. The online magazine offers easy access to key services and computer information.

July 1997—DCRT introduces the NIH Human Resources Information and Benefits System,  aWeb service that gives employees easy access to personnel data, including benefits, salary, awards, leave, savings, performance, and retirement.

September 1997—DCRT completes consolidation of 2 HHS data centers—the Program Support Center Information Technology Service and the Administration for Children and Families National Computer Center—into the NIH Computer Center.

October 1997—Vice President Albert Gore awards OIRM staff the National Performance Review "Hammer" Award for the development of an automated security risk assessment tool for networks.

November 1997—DCRT inaugurates SILK (Secure Internet-Linked) technology to provide Web access to enterprise data.

February 1998—The Center for Information Technology (CIT) is formed, combining the functions of the DCRT, OIRM, and the Telecommunications Branch.

March 1998—Alan S. Graeff is named NIH's first CIO and Director of the newly formed CIT.

April 1998—CIT's OIRM sponsors an IT security conference to provide IT security officers and others with essential information for moving toward the 21st century.

CIT renames its original acquisition and distribution project to the Software Distribution Project (SDP). The SDP provides software to more than 24,000 customers, including more than 80% of all NIH personnel.

October 1998—The NIH IT Board of Governors is established to advise the NIH and the NIH CIO on NIH-wide IT management and to make recommendations on IT activities and priorities.

January 1999—CIT completes development of the predecessor to the TELESYNERGY(TM) Medical Consultation WorkStation, a multimedia, medical imaging workstation. This system provides an electronic imaging environment, utilizing a prototype Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) telemedicine network. The TELESYNERGY environment includes a scientific workstation as the computing platform that transmits simultaneous high-resolution images to all sites participating in a medical consultation.

May 1999—The Information Technology Management Committee (ITMC) is formed to develop and communicate recommendations and decisions at the NIH Institute and Center level, provide a forum for building consensus across the NIH, and serve as an umbrella organization to the NIH IT process management and technical committees.

December 1999—NIH successfully prepares for the Year 2000, thus bringing to fruition 4 years of effort preparing for the largest information management project in history. The NIH strategy of aggressive renovation and validation of information systems, biomedical equipment, facilities, utilities, and telecommunications provides a smooth transition that ensures the integrity of the NIH mission.

2000—CIT renames the Software Distribution Project (SDP) to the Information Systems Designated Procurement (iSDP) to acquire and deliver brand-name software, hardware, and services to NIH and HHS personnel. The iSDP takes advantage of large-volume purchasing agreements to provide significantly discounted prices to its customers. The iSDP also saves its participants time and money by eliminating the need to search for the best information systems deals. iSDP provides major software titles, hardware, and services to more than 54,000 customers, including 84% of HHS personnel and all of NIH.

January 2000—CIT joins forces with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in a pioneering TELESYNERGY collaboration to reach out to distant community hospitals. Patients in remote areas are now able to participate in selected NCI phase I and phase II protocols. Collaborating sites, with TELESYNERGY Systems either installed or under construction, include hospitals in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Wheeling, West Virginia; Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom; and Dublin, the Republic of Ireland

2001—The NIH Incident Response Team is the first civilian Federal agency to receive the prestigious Office of Personnel Management Guardian Award for exceptional contributions in ensuring the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of NIH information resources.

2002—Dr. John F. (Jack) Jones, Jr., joins CIT as Chief IT Architect for NIH, to focus on NIH enterprise systems critical to the mission of NIH and lead Enterprise Architecture.

CIT takes a leadership role in forging NIH's strategy for common services, including hosting the improved and expanded NIH Portal.

CIT supports the development and staged implementation of the NIH Portal as a single, user-friendly customizable Web interface by which data and documents can be readily accessed by NIH staff and associated personnel.

CIT successfully implements the NIH Administrative Restructuring Advisory Committee (ARAC) recommendations for IT Consolidation (Phase I).

2003—The NIH Information Technology Working Group (ITWG), established by the NIH Director as part of the NIH Steering Committee, provides governance and oversight on NIH IT management issues. As an advisory group to the NIH Director, NIH Steering Committee, and NIH CIO on IT management, the ITWG establishes governance over the 5 IT Domain Areas below, representing the areas where decisions need to be made at the intersection of business and information technology.

  • IT Principles Domain—includes alignment of IT to the NIH mission, corporate policies, and oversight of the use of IT, and determination of ownership of IT initiatives
  • IT Infrastructure Strategies Domain—includes the IT “public utility” and secure, robust, and manageable common services
  • IT Architecture Domain—includes data standards and application standards
  • Business Application Needs Domain—includes all enterprise, non-scientific administrative, grants/extramural, and Intramural IT systems
  • IT Investment and Prioritization Domain—includes funding mechanisms and priorities

2004—CIT successfully implements the NIH ARAC recommendations for IT Consolidation Phase II; CIT continues to implement and oversee NIH enterprise-wide applications like:

  • Integrated Time and Attendance System (ITAS)
  • NIH Enterprise Common Services (NECS), including NIH Login and NIH Portal
  • NIH Intramural Data Base (NIDB)
  • Contractor Performance System (CPS)
  • Vulnerability Tracking System (VTS)
  • Human Resources Data Base (HRDB)

2005—Dr. Jones assembles domain teams from across NIH to examine the technology and standards needs of areas that are about to undergo significant consolidation, such as e-mail systems and wireless networks.

2006—Al Whitley is named Deputy Director of CIT.

CIT becomes the technical owner of the NIH Enterprise Ethics System (NEES), the comprehensive automation of the NIH Ethics Program. NEES provides the means to submit, review, track, and report on all ethics-related reports and requests along with supporting documentation. Because of the size and complexity of the overall system, the product is delivered in phases. The first release of NEES is implemented in FY 2006 and focuses on the Public Financial Disclosure Report, referred to as the SF-278.  

2007—CIT implements NIH NEES Release 1.5, which enables all remaining functions required for the review and certification of the SF-278 Public Financial Disclosure Report.

CIT designs a new system for the general purpose scientific platform that hosts applications in response to technology needs of the NIH research community. This includes introducing 1024 new processors for the Biowulf cluster and completing plans to upgrade the Helix shared memory system. 48 additional nodes are integrated into the Infiniband network of the Biowulf cluster, thus reducing queue times for the most demanding parallel molecular dynamics applications. In addition, new hardware to replace is delivered and applications are installed, configured, and tested.

The NIH Intramural Database (NIDB) collects, stores, and reports data from the NIH Intramural Research Program, permitting its oversight, administration of research policies, and responsiveness to inquiries from NIH management and outside sources, such as Congress. In FY 2007 there are over 50,000 search requests, and almost 200,000 individual report requests are made. Functionality is added to NIDB to meet Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization (RCDC) project and Trans-NIH requirements to FY2007 NIH bibliography. Refinements to NIDB are added to increase capture of PubMed references. Functionality is added to Webservices (NCBI) to deal with permissions for the dbGAP database.

NIDB meets all reporting requirements for NIH, supporting and exceeding expectations by enabling a new reporting feature for researchers to split reports, thus giving more granularity and accuracy in RCDC coding. This heavily used new feature results in requests for 724 new reports¾a 169% increase in new report requests in 2007, resulting in a 17% increase in total reports.

The CIT Web Development Project updates and standardizes the design for all CIT Web pages to present users with a streamlined and uniform look for CIT online. To achieve this, all CIT Web content (with the exception of some applications) is migrated from CIT servers to a Microsoft Content Management System and is evaluated to be Section 508 compliant.

In August 2007, NIH and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) sign an interagency agreement that VA (with 240,000 employees) has adopted the NIH ITAS to replace their T&A system.  CIT is responsible for the implementation of ITAS for the VA.

CIT accomplishes the closure of a multi-year project to federate with the HHS's consolidated and outsourced email system. As part of this Federation task (which is a requirement on the Performance Management Appraisal Program of the NIH Director and NIH CIO for 2007), the NIH successfully provides for a synchronized email directory service, a synchronized calendar service, email vaulting services, email disaster recovery services, and the doubling of the default mailbox size at the NIH from 100 to 200 MB.

In FY2007, CIT initiates a formal process improvement methodology in its Division of Enterprise and Custom Applications (DECA), with the objective of aligning CIT applications development processes with industry best practices for process improvement. 

CIT establishes a framework and develops policies, procedures, and templates for the multiple phases of a process improvement software development life cycle and 2 phases on the software management life cycle. During the fiscal year, a suite of project management practices are established. Processes, tools, and artifacts align the DECA PM Methodology with the HHS Enterprise Performance Life Cycle (EPLC) Framework.  Quality Assurance (QA) and Configuration Management (CM) functions are established.

In April 2007, the NIH Data Town interface is retired and a new nVision interface is implemented to create a single, central Web site—the nVision Data Warehouse Portal.  Data Warehouse business areas and reporting tools, such as  Budget and Finance, Human Resources, Research Contracts and Grants, Staff Training and Development, Budget Tracking, Manager’s Desktop Assistant, and Workforce Planning Trends that were previously housed on Data Town are co-located with the nVision business areas to form the new nVision Data Warehouse portal page.

CIT Directors

Name In Office from To
James King (Acting) N/A N/A
Dr. Eugene Harris (Acting) N/A August 1966
Dr. Arnold W. Pratt August 1966 May 1990
Dr. David Rodbard November 1990 April 1996
William L. Risso (Acting) April 1996 March 1998
Alan S. Graeff March 1998 November 2005
Dr. John F. Jones, Jr. (Acting) November 2005 Present

NIH Chief Information Officers

Name In Office from To
Alan S. Graeff March 1998 November 2005
Dr. John F. Jones, Jr. (Acting) November 2005 present


CIT consists of the Office of the Director (OD), the Division of Computational Bioscience (DCB), the Division of Customer Support (DCS), the Division of Computer System Services (DCSS), the Division of Enterprise and Custom Applications (DECA), and the Division of Network Systems and Telecommunications (DNST).  CIT also directly funds and supports the NIH Office of the Deputy Chief Information Officer (ODCIO), and the Office of the Chief IT Architect (OCITA).

Office of the Director (OD)

The Office of the Director plans, directs, coordinates, and evaluates the Center's programs, policies, and procedures and provides analysis and guidance in the development of systems for the effective use of IT techniques and equipment in support of NIH programs.

CIT also provides a rich portfolio of collaboration products and services, including:

  • Conference Room Automation and AV Services
  • Federal Video Relay Service (FedVRS)
  • NIH Web Collaboration
  • Podcasting
  • TeleConferencing Services
  • Videocasting Services
  • VideoTeleConferencing (VTC)

Office of the Deputy Chief Information Officer (ODCIO)

The Deputy Chief Information Officer advises the CIO on the direction and management of significant NIH IT program and policy activities under relevant Federal statutes, regulations, and policies. The ODCIO also develops, implements, manages, and oversees NIH IT activities related to IT legislation, regulations, and NIH and other Federal policies:

  • ODCIO directs NIH's IT capital planning processes with regard to major IT investments and provides leadership to NIH Institutes and Centers to enhance and strengthen their IT program management so they comply with legislative and policy requirements.
  • The office serves as principal NIH liaison to HHS, its Operating Divisions and other Federal agencies on IT matters.
  • ODCIO identifies critical IT issues and analyzes, plans, leads, and manages the implementation of special HHS or Federal initiatives as they relate to the management of NIH's IT resources. ODCIO also collaborates with NIH managers responsible for IT-related functions, in particular, IT security.
  • ODCIO staffs and supports NIH's Incident Response Team (IRT). The IRT serves as the focal point for IT security incidents by identifying and characterizing incidents and providing immediate diagnostic and corrective action when appropriate.

Office of the Chief IT Architect (OCITA)

The Office of the Chief IT Architect manages the NIH Enterprise Architecture program, which reports directly to the NIH Chief Information Officer.

The mission for the NIH enterprise architecture program is to develop a comprehensive plan for IT support at NIH that acknowledges the need for both conforming and diverse business processes.

NIH can realize important business through an effective enterprise architecture program. The NIH Enterprise Architecture provides a framework for building (or acquiring) and implementing NIH information systems that directly support the NIH mission, and that link NIH’s IT assets with its mission.

Following the guidelines and specifications not only ensures investments that directly align with the NIH mission but also facilitates system interoperability across all NIH systems.

NIH Enterprise Architecture helps:

  • Build a common understanding of NIH’s future IT direction
  • Identify systems and information needed to support NIH business processes
  • Define NIH’s technology infrastructure
  • Document the management processes for aligning IT to business

Division of Computational Bioscience (DCB)

DCB is a research and development organization that provides scientific and technical expertise in computational science and engineering to support biomedical research activities at the NIH:

  • DCB applies the concepts and technologies of computer, engineering, physical, and mathematical science to biomedical applications including the areas of image processing, bioinformatics, genetic databases, structural biology, scientific visualization, medical imaging, telemedicine, signal processing, biomedical instrumentation, and biomathematics.
  • DCB develops computational methods and tools for solving biomedical laboratory and clinical research problems.
  • DCB promotes the application of high-performance computing and high-speed communications to biomedical research and provides these resources for the NIH scientific staff.
  • DCB evaluates the overall effectiveness of these programs and represents CIT to the national Information Technology Research and Development (IT R&D) Program.

Division of Computer System Services (DCSS)

DCSS plans, implements, operates, and supports centrally owned or administered computing resources for NIH enterprises use, ensuring interoperability among those resources and between them and other computing facilities owned by customer organizations.

  • DCSS promotes awareness and efficient and effective use of these computing resources by customer personnel through training, presentations, consultations, and documentation.
  • DCSS investigates new and emerging computing requirements of customer programs. It conducts research and development to identify, evaluate, and adapt new computer architectures and technologies to meet identified customer requirements and to enhance current service offerings.
  • Additionally, where appropriate, DCSS manages and operates departmental computing resources for NIH, Office, or Center use.

Division of Customer Support (DCS)

DCS provides centralized, integrated computer support services to the NIH computing community:

  • DCS advocates customer needs to CIT management and represents services and policies to CIT's customers.
  • It plays an active and participatory role in supporting desktop computing to the end-user in the areas of software and hardware, including internet, communications, and access technologies.
  • The Division also coordinates and oversees CIT's Training Program for the benefit of the NIH computing community. The training program is delivered at no charge to the user.
  • In addition to providing a central account establishment and management services for access to CIT systems, DCS also manages the NIH Help Desk and implements problem tracking systems.

Division of Enterprise and Custom Applications (DECA)

DECA supports the NIH enterprise business process through the development and management of transaction and decision-support environments for administrative and business applications of NIH, such as procurement, budget, accounting, and human resource activities, as well as systems that support extramural and intramural business processes:

  • The Division provides complete information systems management services to the NIH including technical project management, systems analysis, programming, data integration and conversion, quality assurance, testing, and production support.
  • DECA also provides the NIH community with World Wide Web development, support services, and consulting services for applications development.

Division of Network Systems and Telecommunications (DNST)

DNST directs the engineering, design, implementation, and support of network infrastructure and services for the NIH-wide area network (NIHnet) to facilitate the use of scientific, administrative, and other business applications:

  • DNST manages and directs NIH telecommunications systems and technical requirements for the NIH ICs and implements telecommunications programs to meet the needs of the NIH community.
  • The Division researches, develops, and tests next-generation networking/ telecommunications technologies and develops and supports applications using new network technologies, such as telemedicine and video conferencing.
  • It provides consulting, guidance and support to the ICs, helping them to meet their network requirements.
  • To improve the information infrastructure on networking/telecommunications activities, DNST serves as liaison to the NIH ICs and other DHHS components.
  • DNST serves as a focal point for telecommunications service orders, and develops and disseminates recommended standards, policies, and procedures for the nationwide implementation and management of NIH networking and telecommunications systems.

The Division also develops, implements, and supports remote access services to NIHnet, provides technical support for wireless services, and a 24-hour telephone/network support service.

This page was last reviewed on April 30, 2008 .
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