The Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) was established in 1986 to provide independent advice to the federal government on technical and public policy issues relating to computing and communications. It is composed of leaders in information technology and complementary fields from industry and academia. CSTB conducts studies of critical national issues that recommend actions or changes in actions by government, industry, academic researchers, and the larger nonprofit sector. CSTB also provides a neutral meeting ground for consideration of complex issues where resolution and action may be premature. It convenes invitational discussion sessions that bring together principals from the public and private sectors to share perspectives on all sides of an issue. The process assures that the debate is not dominated by the loudest voices.
CSTB employs time and effort contributed by some of the best minds in the country. Invited experts (selected by nomination and approval) participate in its projects as a public service. Projects involve balanced committees without direct financial interests in the topics they are addressing. Those committees meet, confer electronically, and build analyses of their topics through their deliberations. Additional expertise from around the country is tapped in rigorous processes of review and critique, further enhancing the quality of CSTB reports. Because it involves groups of principals, CSTB can get the facts, the intuitions, and the insights key to its topics.
CSTB itself generates and oversees the projects undertaken under its aegis. A creative body, CSTB initiates a large fraction of its work. It draws on its members' insights into key trends and issues facing the computing and communications industries, the academic research community, and related professions and organizations to identify issues where it can have impact. The majority of its work is requested by federal government agencies and Congress, consistent with its charter as a unit of the National Academies.
CSTB is an operating unit within the National Research Council (NRC). The NRC is the principal working arm of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine -- three honorific entities to which distinguished experts in their fields are elected by their peers. The parent entity, the National Academy of Sciences, was chartered by Act of Congress in 1863, signed by Abraham Lincoln, to further science and technology and provide advice to government upon request. In order to expand the talent base involved in Academy activities, the NRC was created in 1916 and structured as a non-profit corporation.