The White House formed the Information Infrastructure Task Force (IITF) in September 1993 to articulate and implement the Administration's vision for the Nation Information Infrastructure (NII). The task force consists of high level representatives of the Federal agencies that play a major role in the development and application of information and telecommunications technologies.
Working together with the private sector, the participating agencies will develop comprehensive technology, telecommunications, and information policies and promote applications that best meet the needs of both the agencies and the country. By helping build consensus on difficult policy issues, the IITF will enable agencies to make and implement policy more quickly and effectively.
Ronald H. Brown, the Secretary of Commerce, chairs the IITF, and much of the staff work and administrative support for the task force will be done by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce. The task force operates under the aegis of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Economic Council.
The task force currently is undertaking a wide-ranging examination of all issues relevant to the timely development and growth of the NII.
President Clinton established the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) by Executive Order 12881 on November 23, 1993. This cabinet-level council is the principal means for the President to coordinate science, space, and technology policies across the Federal government.
An important objective of the NSTC is the establishment of clear national goals for Federal science and technology investments in areas ranging from information technologies and health research, to improving transportation systems and strengthening fundamental research. The Council prepares research and development strategies that are coordinated across Federal agencies to form an investment package that is aimed at accomplishing multiple national goals.
President Clinton directed NSTC to:
One of the most important tasks that the NSTC performs is to prepare coordinated R&D strategies and budget recommendations to orient science and technology toward achieving national goals. To do so, the Council established nine goal-oriented committees.
All of the other NSTC committees have a relationship to the information infrastructure, primarily as important application domains where information technologies will heavily influence attainment of their technology goals. For example, information technology (IT) is at the heart of the Intelligent Vehicle Highway System (Committee on Transportation); IT provides the foundation for next-generation education and training systems (Committee on Education and Training); and IT will be relied upon for monitoring, analyzing, and controlling the environment (Committee on Environment and Natural Resources).
NSTC's Committee on Information and Communications R&D (CIC) has primary responsibility for research and development of information technologies. According to its charter:
The purpose of the Committee on Information and Communication Research and Development is to advise and assist NSTC to increase the overall effectiveness and productivity of Federal R&D efforts to develop and apply information and communication technologies. The Committee will address significant national policy matters, which cut across agency boundaries and shall provide a formal mechanism for interagency policy coordination and development of Federal communication and information research and development activities.
The Committee will act to improve the coordination of all federal efforts in information and communication research and development. This includes developing a balanced and comprehensive R&D program, establishing a structure to improve the way the federal government plans and coordinates information and communication research and development, and to develop information and communication R&D budget crosscuts and priorities.
Reporting to and under the direction of the Chairman of NSTC, the Committee on Information and Communication will:
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent regulatory body with great impact on existing and future telecommunications and information systems and services including spectrum availability. The FCC can participate in the activities of the IITF and NSTC in an observer status. The FCC also participates in or sponsors committees that address issues of importance to existing and future information infrastructure. An example is the Network Reliability Council, which includes representatives from the Federal government and private industry.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is a Department of Commerce agency with principal duties including: provision of policy advice and administrative support on planning and implementation of the Administration's NII initiative; service through the Secretary of Commerce as principal advisor to the President on domestic and international communications and information policy making; development of pro-investment and pro-competitive policies for presentation before the Congress and the FCC and in bilateral and multilateral international conferences; management of all Federal use of the electromagnetic spectrum and promotion of efficient spectrum usage; conduct of telecommunications technology research, including standards development, in partnership with business and other Federal agencies; award of grants through the NII demonstration project initiative and other means; and provision of satellite services for the PEACESAT Program.
With increasing emphasis being placed on the need for international coordination and indeed on developing a Global Information Infrastructure (GII), the Department of State is playing an increasingly visible role in information infrastructure activities. Some of these activities are in close coordination with the IITF, while others are less directly coordinated with IITF activities. An example in this latter category is issues associated with U.S. participation in the International Satellite Organizations (INTELSAT and INMARSAT). These issues will become increasingly more visible particularly in light of the important roles which satellites will play in the GII (as highlighted by the Vice President's address to the International Telecommunications Union last March) and the mounting pressure to "de-monopolize" the international satellite communications arena. The Department of State also participates in the NSTC process, particularly in the Committee on International Science, Engineering, and Technology.
The Department of Defense has been a key developer of information technologies and a very large user of such systems. Recent activities in DOD related to NII/GII development include the Defense Information Infrastructure (DII) initiative and the Global Grid initiative. DOD has the most sophisticated arsenal of information technologies and systems of any Federal agency, and efforts are ongoing to leverage this technology base into broader commercially viable applications.
Collectively, the Executive Branch represents an enormous consumption of information and telecommunications technologies, systems, and services. There are many large procurement activities that will not be exhaustively listed here. Examples include: the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and the National Communication System (NCS); Federal law enforcement activities; large research establishments such as NASA centers and DOE and DOD laboratories, most of which operate supercomputer facilities and utilize significant data networks; computationally intensive activities such as Bureau of Census and Internal Revenue Service; health care administration networks; and many more.
Various interagency activities, processes, and committees exist with regard to Federal utilization of information and telecommunications technologies, systems, and services. Examples include the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which coordinates resources of many other agencies; the Federal Wireless Policy Committee, chaired by NTIA, which is addressing future procurement policies for wireless systems and services such as PCS (Personal Communications Services); and the Federal Network Council chaired by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The National Information Infrastructure Advisory Committee was created by Executive Order 12864 to advise the IITF on matters related to development of the NII. The NII Advisory Committee members represent a broad set of stakeholders in the information infrastructure, including industry, labor, academia, public interest groups, and state and local governments.
The President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) was established by Executive Order 12882 at the same time that NSTC was created. The PCAST serves as the highest level private sector advisory group for the President and for NSTC. The formal link between PCAST and NSTC ensure that national needs remain an overarching guide for the NSTC. The PCAST provides feedback about Federal programs and actively advises the NSTC about science and technology issues of national importance. [From NSTC Booklet]
The NSTC committees may also form private sector advisory groups. In particular, the Committee on Information and Communications R&D (CIC) is presently forming an advisory committee, which will also perform the statutory responsibilities of the mandated HPCC Advisory Committee.