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CIT logo   Center for Information Technology
Mission | Important Events | Director | Divisions


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 information systems, networking services, and telecommunications services. Among its activities, the CIT:

  • provides collaborative support to NIH researchers;
  • 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 HHS and other Federal agencies.
  • serves as a data center to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other Federal agencies; and
  • develops, administers, and manages NIH systems and provides consulting services to the ICs, in support of administrative and business applications.

Important Events in CIT History

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

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

In May the NIH director established a committee on electronic data processing and computers.

1958 – NIH installed its first electronic digital computer as an experimental device.

March 1960 – The Surgeon General approved the establishment of a Computation and Data Processing Branch in DRS.

October 1961 – NIH installed its first "second generation" computer.

April 1963 – The NIH director appointed a steering committee to undertake a comprehensive study of data processing activities at NIH.

April 1963 – The NIH steering committee recommended 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 was named DCRT's first director.

April 1966 – Components of the "third-generation" computer system were installed.

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

June 1969 – Minicomputers designed by the DCRT were installed in NIH laboratories.

May 1979 – An interagency agreement between HEW and GSA established the NIH Central Computer Utility as a Federal Data Processing Center.

April 1983 – The Personal Workstation Project was founded to determine how effectively NIH personnel could use personal computers.

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

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

1992 – DCRT opened its walk-in Scientific Computing Resource Center (SCRC) for NIH personnel.

March 1992 – Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Lewis Sullivan in a letter to Congress, committed to creating a new office to improve management and coordination of NIH's information resources.

June 1992 – The NIH director approved creation of the Office of Information Resources Management (OIRM) in OD.

Dr. Frank Hartel was selected as the NIH Senior IRM official and the director of OIRM.

September 1993 – The Information Systems Security Officers (ISSO) committee was established to handle NIH IT security issues.

January 1994 – DCRT celebrated its 30th anniversary.

February 1994 – To help customers obtain computer-related information, a help desk was inaugurated.

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

May 1995 – DCRT sponsored 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 approved a revised charter for the Office of Information Resource Management (IRM) council and increased 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 sponsored a Federal webmaster workshop on legal, ethical, and security issues related to increase Web use by Federal agencies.

August 1995 – The first NIH electronic store was established to provide efficient acquisition of personal computers, hardware, software, and on-line components to NIH personnel.

May 1996 – The IRM council established 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 two-digit date field.

June 1996 – NIH's Computer Center was designated as a major DHHS data center.

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

A telecommunications committee was established to provide the IRM council with advice about crosscutting telecommunication issues affecting a large number of NIH staff. Issues included telephone features and services, pagers, cellular services, video teleconferencing, remote access, audio conferencing, and switchboard operator services. Responsibilities were shared by DCRT and the Telecommunications Branch located in NIH's Office of Research Services.

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

NIH director named Anthony Itteilag, NIH deputy director for management, to serve as interim NIH Chief Information Officer (CIO).

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

December 1996 – A final ITCC report was submitted to the NIH director. The report recommended appointing a CIO and combining DCRT, OIRM, and TCB into a single organizational structure.

Dona R. Lenkin was appointed to serve as OIRM acting director and alternate NIH CIO.

May 1997 – DCRT sponsored a Web Information Day-"Tools for the Web, the Web as a Tool." Open to NIH employees, the all-day program featured seminars and demos focusing on effective Web use.

July 1997 – DCRT introduced the NIH Human Resources Information and Benefits System (HRIBS), a Web service that gave employees easy access to personnel data, including benefits, salary, awards, leave, savings, performance and retirement.

September 1997 – DCRT completed consolidation of two 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.

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

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

NIH's first electronic magazine, LiveWire, was launched by DCRT. The on-line magazine offered easy access to key services and computer information.

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

February 1998 – The Center for Information Technology (CIT) was formed-combining the functions of the DCRT, the Office of Information Resources Management (OIRM), and the Telecommunications Branch.

March 1998 – Alan S. Graeff was named NIH's first CIO and director of the newly formed Center for Information Technology (CIT).

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

October 1998 – The NIH IT Board of Governors (BoG) was established to advise the NIH director and the NIH CIO on NIH-wide IT management and to make recommendations on IT activities and priorities.

May 1999 – The Information Technology Management Committee (ITMC) was formed. The committee developed and communicated recommendations and decisions at the IC level, provided a forum for building consensus across the NIH, and served as an umbrella organization to the NIH IT process management and technical committees.

December 1999 – NIH successfully prepared for the Year 2000, thus bringing to fruition four 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 provided a smooth transition that ensured the integrity of the NIH mission.

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

January 2000 – CIT joined forces with NCI in a pioneering TELESYNERGY(TM) collaboration to reach out to distant community hospitals. Patients in remote areas were now able to participate in selected NCI phase I and phase II protocols. Collaborating sites, with TELESYNERGY(TM) Systems either installed or under construction, included hospitals in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Wheeling, West Virginia; Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Dublin, Republic of Ireland.

Biographical Sketch of CIT Director Alan S. Graeff

Al Graeff was named Chief Information Officer of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Director of the newly formed Center for Information Technology (CIT) on March 6,1998.

Al previously served as Chief of the Clinical Center's (CC) Information Systems Department, where he oversaw a major Information Technology (IT) reorganization that introduced a centralized infrastructure based on technical standards, reliable architecture, and high levels of customer support. He created a unified support structure for IT in the CC's diverse environment of clinical research, patient services, and administration.

As Chief of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' (NIAID) Technical Systems Section from 1989 - 1991, Al was responsible for building the Institute's first wide-area network, comprising 12 locations across the country and serving 1,400 computer users. He also designed and implemented an NIAID acquisition workflow system that streamlined the Institute's acquisition and planning processes. In earlier positions, Al worked as a biologist for the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Metabolism Branch and NIAID's Laboratory of Cellular Immunology. He holds a B.S. in distributed sciences from American University.

CIT Directors

Date of Birth
In Office From
Dr. Arnold W. Pratt 1920 August 1966 May 1990
Dr. David Rodbard July 6, 1941 November 1990 April 1996
William L. Risso (Acting) Oct. 26, 1944 April 1996 March 1998
Alan S. Graeff Feb. 27, 1954 March 1998  


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

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. The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) provides advice on the computational and telecommunications needs of the NIH community and provides analysis and guidance in developing systems supporting NIH-wide IT initiatives. In addition, the CTO evaluates new technologies, provides planning guidance for CIT programs and services, and coordinates IT architectural management for the NIH.

Office of the Deputy Chief Information Officer (ODCIO)

The Deputy Chief Information Officer advises the Chief Information Officer (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 ICs to enhance and strengthen their IT program management so they comply with legislative and policy requirements. The office serves as principal NIH liaison to the DHHS, its OPDIVs, and other Federal agencies on IT matters. In addition, ODCIO identifies critical IT issues and analyzes, plans, leads, and manages the implementation of special DHHS 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. The Incident Response Team (IRT) serves as the focal point for IT security incidents by identifying and characterizing incidents, and providing immediate diagnostic and corrective action when appropriate.

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. It evaluates the overall effectiveness of these programs and represents CIT to the national Information Technology Research and Development (IT R&D) Program.

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.

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 IC, Office, or Center use.

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 the 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 Customer Support (DCS)

The Division 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 an NIH-wide help desk and implements problem tracking systems.

This page was last reviewed on June 30, 2005 .

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