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The Clinton Presidency: Unleashing the New Economy -- Expanding Access to Technology

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The Clinton Presidency:
Unleashing the New Economy — Expanding Access to Technology


President Clinton and Vice President Gore came into office with an agenda to use the revolution in information technology to improve Americansí quality of life and reinvigorate the economy. Since 1993, they have made smart investments in science and technology that have helped build the New Economy. The Clinton-Gore Administrationís work has created a strong economy spurred by new technologies, increased access to computers and the Internet to share the benefits of the new economy, and put in place a strong research and development strategy that will continue to pay off in the years to come.

Investing in Science, Technology and Biomedical Research

THEN: American technological edge begins to erode.
America was on the cusp of a new Information Age. The U.S. edge in technology was beginning to erode in some of our prominent industries, in part due to the lack of a coherent plan on how to effectively tap information technologyís potential. The Cold War had ended, but the government continued to invest most of the federal research dollars into defense, rather than into civilian research that directly contributes to long-term economic growth, creates jobs, improves education and protects the environment. In 1993, only 42 percent of the federal governmentís research and development investments went to civilian research.
NOW: Technology powering strong economic strength.
President Clinton and Vice President Gore wanted to use information technology to improve Americansí quality of life and reinvigorate the economy. They increased funding in civilian research and development by 43 percent, without significantly reducing the investment in defense research, and increased R&D support to universities by 53 percent. President Clinton also made investments to spur private sector innovation, help improve our environment, and improve the nationís health.
  • Between 1993 and 2000, President Clinton invested an additional $10 billion in a range of science and technology programs included in the 21st Century Research Fund. This includes the largest increase ever for the National Science Foundation, which supports much of the research that trains the next generation of Americaís scientists and engineers. President Clinton also fought for the Next Generation Internet, which is connecting universities and national labs at speeds that are 1,000 times faster than todayís Internet, and major increases in long-term information technology research. In 2001, investments in the 21st Century Research Fund will total $44.9 billion.
  • The President worked with Congress to extend the Research and Experimentation tax credit for another five years, through 2004, the longest expansion of this policy ever. Extending the tax credit will encourage companies to undertake new multi-year research activities, secure in the knowledge that the 20 percent tax credit will continue to be available.
  • The Clinton Administration has invested in programs such as the Climate Change Technology Initiative to develop clean energy to reduce the pollution that can lead to global warming. This Initiative is a comprehensive program of research investments and targeted tax incentives to spur the development of clean energy technologies. The President has also increased the investment in nanotechnology research, which is the manipulation of matter at the atomic and molecular level. Nanotechnology research could lead to breakthroughs such as the ability to store the equivalent of the Library of Congress in a device the size of a sugar cube, materials nearly 10 times stronger than steel and a fraction of the weight, and the ability to detect tumors when they are only a few cells in size.
  • President Clinton and Vice President Gore have made unprecedented investments in biomedical research, nearly doubling funding for the National Institutes of Health since 1993 — a $10 billion increase. As a result, NIH supports the highest levels of research ever on nearly all types of disease and health conditions, making new breakthroughs possible in vaccine development and use, the treatment of chronic disease, and prevention and treatment of disease. The Presidentís National Bioethics Advisory Commission issued recommendations on ethical standards for the conduct of stem cell research. Stem cells may one day be used to replace cardiac muscle cells for people with heart disease, nerve cells for hundreds of thousands of Parkinsonís patients, or insulin-producing cells for children who suffer from diabetes.
  • As a part of overall NIH funding, President Clinton and Vice President Gore have strongly supported the efforts of the National Human Genome Research Institute to map the entire human genome. The completed map will dramatically change medical care, opening new doors in the effort to learn more about detection, treatment, and prevention of serious diseases. On March 14, 2000, President Clinton announced that he and British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed on a statement of principle to ensure that discoveries from the human genome are used to advance human health. Their joint statement applauds researchers who have made their raw human genome sequence data freely available to the global scientific community and calls upon others to follow their lead.

Building the New Economy

THEN: Economic promise of technology.
In 1992, the technology revolution was just about to hit. Only 10 million people worldwide were connected to the Internet, and as recently as 1994, just 24 percent of American households had a computer. The United States exported $24.9 billion in computer equipment in 1992, and the nation had not yet experienced the benefits of the coming technology revolution.
NOW: Leadership has helped foster technology and fueled the economy.
President Clinton and Vice President Gore have fostered the tremendous growth in technology in the past eight years and helped to ensure that the New Economy has flourished, turning around the stagnant economic growth of the 1980s. By August 2000, the number of American households with a computers had grown to 51 percent, and over 200 million people worldwide are connected to the Internet — opening a world of possibilities to Americans. Exports of computer equipment had grown to $41.4 billion in 1997, and the number of patent applications increased by 40 percent since 1992. The increasing prevalence of the Internet led to a growth in electronic commerce, which has expanded the reach of small businesses by allowing them to reach hundreds of millions of customers around the world.
  • President Clinton signed the Internet Tax Freedom Act, a 3-year moratorium on Internet access taxes and taxes that discriminate against e-commerce.
  • The Clinton Administration won an agreement in the World Trade Organization to place a temporary moratorium on duties on electronic transmissions, making cyberspace a "duty-free zone."
  • In October 1998, the President signed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, helping to protect America's intellectual property in cyberspace.
  • On June 30, 2000, the President signed the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, which gives online contracts the same force of law as paper contracts. Customers can finalize mortgages, sign insurance contracts, or open brokerage accounts online.
  • The President and Vice President have encouraged the private sector to protect individual privacy through self-regulation, third-party audits and enforcement mechanisms. In just over a year, the number of commercial Internet sites with privacy policies has increased from 15 percent to 66 percent.
  • President Clinton signed the Childrenís Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires commercial Web sites to get a parentís permission before collecting personal information from minors. In May 1999, Vice President Gore announced the Parentsí Protection Page, an important new commitment by Internet companies to give parents the resources to protect their children from inappropriate material on the Internet and the knowledge to supervise and guide their childrenís online activities.
  • President Clinton signed the first comprehensive telecommunications reform legislation in over sixty years, which lowered prices, increased customer choice, and sped the deployment of new technology.

Encouraging the Growth of the Internet and Electronic Commerce

"I want to acknowledge the contributions of President Clinton and Vice President Gore in shaping the administration policy, and in legislation supporting research and development thatís needed to make Internet a global reality, and to continue its astonishing evolution."
Dr. Vint Cerf


Bridging the Digital Divide

THEN: Limited access to technology for most Americans.
In 1992, home computers were rare, and as recently as 1994 only three percent of classrooms were connected to the Internet. Today, more homes and schools are connected but a divide still exists — 77.7 percent of households earning $75,000 or more have Internet access, compared to 12.7 percent earning $15,000 or less.
NOW: Expanding opportunity created by technology.
As the first Administration of the Internet Age, President Clinton and Vice President Gore have worked to make technology available for all Americans. Since 1992, the President and Vice President have tripled funding for Community Technology Centers, which provide computer and Internet access in low-income urban and rural neighborhoods. The President and Vice President are supporting innovative applications of information technology for low-income families through the Department of Commerce, such as telemedicine for prenatal care and distance learning for people who have lost their jobs. The Administration has challenged the private sector to develop new business models for low-cost computers and Internet access — to make universal access at home affordable for all Americans. President Clinton mobilized major public and private efforts to bridge the digital divide during his third New Markets Tour, when over 400 companies and non-profit organizations signed a "National Call to Action" to bring digital opportunity to youth, families, and opportunities. The Call to Action sets goals such as ensuring that every child is technologically literate, and making home access to the Internet as common as the telephone.

Expanding Access to Computers and Technology Training

"Community technology centers provide low-income individuals with skills training and the ability to produce their dreams. They are also an important entryway to the technology industry. We think of President Clinton as our first angel investor: his Administrationís work has been fundamental to Plugged In and to the community technology center movement."
Magda Escobar, Executive Director, Plugged In, East Palo Alto, California. Magda Escobarís community technology center shares the opportunities created by the information revolution with residents of East Palo Alto, a low-income community located in Silicon Valley, the epicenter of the technological revolution. Plugged In trains teenagers in web development to ensure that the opportunities of the technology revolution are shared with the entire community.

"As we enter the Internet Century, nothing is more important than providing our young people - all our young people - with the skills and resources to thrive in this new age. Weíre grateful for the support that weíve received from across the industry, the non-profit world and government. Something exciting is happening here and the momentum is just beginning,"
Steve Case, Chairman of PowerUP and Chairman of AOL Time Warner. PowerUP is a national initiative to provide underserved youth access to technology and guidance on how to use it. In conjunction with President Clinton's "digital divide" trip in April 2000, PowerUP committed to establishing 250 sites in 43 states at after-school locations such as Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and K-12 schools.


Increasing Technology Access in Schools

THEN: Educational technology a low priority.
A decade ago, computers were largely luxuries in the most affluent school districts. In 1994, only three percent of classrooms had computers that were connected to the Internet, and in 1994 only 35 percent of public schools had any Internet access at all. Students had little opportunity to learn to use computers and to explore the Internet, and the government had not mobilized its resources to expand the use of technology in our schools.
NOW: Historic investments in educational technology lead to 95 percent of public schools connected to the Internet.
Understanding the critical importance of incorporating technology into the classroom, the Clinton-Gore Administration made increasing access to technology in our schools a top priority. President Clinton and Vice President Gore created the E-rate and the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund to help connect every school to the Internet, increase the number of multimedia computers in the classroom and provide technology training for teachers. President Clinton increased investments in educational technology and training from $23 million in 1993 to $769 million in FY 2000. In addition, with the Vice Presidentís leadership the E-rate has secured low-cost connections to the Internet for schools, libraries, rural health clinics and hospitals, providing discounts worth over $2 billion annually. The number of classrooms connected to the Internet has increased to 65 percent in 1999, and the number of public schools connected rose to more than 95 percent.

The E-Rate is Opening New Doors for American Students

Victor Shen, Whittier, Alaska. Victor Shen, a 16-year-old high school junior, is one of more than 30 million American children who are online because of the Clinton-Gore Administrationís E-rate. Victor lives in Whittier Alaska, which is isolated from the rest of the world for six months out of the year because of its remote location and severe weather. Victor was cut off from commerce, cut off from transportation, cut off from society, and cut off from pursuing his dream for the future. Victor wanted to grow up to be a mathematician, but his teachers didnít have the best resources to teach him; nor could they afford an Internet connection to connect Victor to his dream. Thanks to Vice President Goreís leadership in securing the E-rate, Victorís school is now connected to the Internet and Victor is now connected to learning and connected to his dream. The Whittier Community School is online because of the 90 percent discount they received from the E-rate.

"The Internet allowed my students to go to a place and learn about something they could never have done before. The Internet erases boundaries of age and class. Everyone can access it in an equal way. In Paradise, this is especially important because of the limitations some of these children face."
Beth Paterson, fourth-grade teacher at Paradise Elementary, California. Paradise Elementary is a part of the Paradise Unified School District, which serves Paradise and Magalia, an isolated and rural community in the foothills of Californiaís Sierra Nevada Mountains with a significant low-income population. The E-Rate has allowed Paradise to build $300,000 of network infrastructure, network computers and install T-1 lines.


Expanding Electronic Government

THEN: Limited electronic access to government.
In the early 1990s, the Internet was not widely available, but by the end of the decade millions of Americans were online. In 1992, neither the White House nor any Cabinet agency had a web page, and citizens were unable to access government information online. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have worked to ensure that the U.S. government used information technology to bring government closer to the American people.
NOW: Internet expands citizen access to government.
President Clinton and Vice President Gore have used the power of the Internet to make government work better for people. They moved the government online, and in October 1994 they unveiled the first White House Internet page, which provides a road map to the federal government. Today, every Cabinet department has a web site to make information and services available to the American people at the touch of a button. In September 2000, the Clinton Administration launched FirstGov.gov, making all of the government's online resources available and searchable at a single web site.

Expanding Access to Technology

  • Increased Education Technology Funding: President Clinton and Vice President Gore increased our investment in educational technology by over 3,600 percent — from $23 million in FY 1993 to $872 million in FY 2001.
  • Training Teachers to Use Technology: Grants supported by the Department of Education are training over 600,000 new teachers to use technology effectively in their classrooms.
  • Connecting Schools to the Internet: The number of public schools connected to the Internet has increased from 35 percent in 1994 to 95 percent in 1999. In addition, 63 percent of all public school classrooms were connected to the Internet in 1999, up from 3 percent in 1994.
  • Created the E-Rate: More than 80 percent of Americaís public schools have benefited from the E-rate, which has helped connect 30 million children and up to 47,000 schools and libraries to the Internet.
  • Tripled Funding for Community Technology Centers: President Clinton and Vice President Gore tripled funding for Community Technology Centers to reach at least 120 low-income communities, helping to close the digital divide by providing computers and Information Age tools to children and adults unable to afford them at home.
  • Presidential Online Firsts: On June 30, 2000, President Clinton signed the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act with a "smart card," marking the first electronic bill signing in history. He also moved the tradition of the Saturday Presidential Radio Address online when he held the first Saturday Web Address on June 24, 2000. President Clinton was the first president to participate in an online chat, which was moderated by the Democratic Leadership Council and held November 9, 1999. On February 14, 2000, President Clinton participated in the first online chat with a news organization in history, hosted by CNN.com. President Clinton also became the first president to shop online in December 1999, when he went Christmas shopping from his desk in the Oval Office.

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