The Administration's Agenda for Action

Version 1.0

I. The Promise of the NII

Imagine you had a device that combined a telephone, a TV, a camcorder, and a personal computer. No matter where you went or what time it was, your child could see you and talk to you, you could watch a replay of your team's last game, you could browse the latest additions to the library, or you could find the best prices in town on groceries, furniture, clothes -- whatever you needed.

Imagine further the dramatic changes in your life if:

Information is one of the nation's most critical economic resources, for service industries as well as manufacturing, for economic as well as national security. By one estimate, two- thirds of U.S. workers are in information-related jobs, and the rest are in industries that rely heavily on information. In an era of global markets and global competition, the technologies to create, manipulate, manage and use information are of strategic importance for the United States. Those technologies will help U.S. businesses remain competitive and create challenging, high- paying jobs. They also will fuel economic growth which, in turn, will generate a steadily-increasing standard of living for all Americans.

That is why the Administration has launched the National Information Infrastructure initiative. We are committed to working with business, labor, academia, public interest groups, Congress, and state and local government to ensure the development of a national information infrastructure (NII) that enables all Americans to access information and communicate with each other using voice, data, image or video at anytime, anywhere. By encouraging private sector investment in the NII's development, and through government programs to improve access to essential services, we will promote U.S. competitiveness, job creation and solutions to pressing social problems.

II. What Is the NII?

The phrase "information infrastructure" has an expansive meaning. The NII includes more than just the physical facilities used to transmit, store, process, and display voice, data, and images. It encompasses:

Every component of the information infrastructure must be developed and integrated if America is to capture the promise of the Information Age.

The Administration's NII initiative will promote and support full development of each component. Regulatory and economic policies will be adopted that encourage private firms to create jobs and invest in the applications and physical facilities that comprise the infrastructure. The Federal government will assist industry, labor, academia, and state and local governments in developing the information resources and applications needed to maximize the potential of those underlying facilities. Moreover, and perhaps most importantly, the NII initiative will help educate and train our people so that they are prepared not only to contribute to the further growth of the NII, but also to understand and enjoy fully the services and capabilities that it will make available.

III. Need for Government Action To Complement Private Sector Leadership

The foregoing discussion of the transforming potential of the NII should not obscure a fundamental fact -- the private sector is already developing and deploying such an infrastructure today. The United States communications system -- the conduit through which most information is accessed or distributed -- is second to none in speed, capacity, and reliability. Each year the information resources, both hardware and software, available to most Americans are substantially more extensive and more powerful than the previous year.

The private sector will lead the deployment of the NII. In recent years, U.S. companies have invested more than $50 billion annually in telecommunications infrastructure -- and that figure does not account for the vast investments made by firms in related industries, such as computers. In contrast, the Administration's ambitious agenda for investment in critical NII projects (including computing) amounts to $1-2 billion annually. Nonetheless, while the private sector role in NII development will predominate, the government has an essential role to play. In particular, carefully crafted government action can complement and enhance the benefits of these private sector initiatives. Accordingly, the Administration's NII initiative will be guided by the following nine principles and goals, which are discussed in more detail below:

IV. Managing Change/ Forging Partnerships

We will help to build a partnership of business, labor, academia, the public, and government that is committed to deployment of an advanced, rapid, powerful infrastructure accessible and accountable to all Americans.

Forging this partnership will require extensive inter- governmental coordination to ensure that Administration, Congressional, state and local government policy regarding the NII is consistent, coherent, and timely. It also requires the development of strong working alliances among industry groups and between government and the businesses responsible for creating and operating the NII. Finally, close cooperation will be needed between government, users, service providers, and public interest groups to ensure that the NII develops in a way that benefits the American people.

Specifically, the Administration will:

V. Principles and Goals for Government Action

The Task Force currently is undertaking a wide-ranging examination of all issues relevant to the timely development and growth of the National Information Infrastructure. Specific principles and goals in areas where government action is warranted have already been identified and work has begun on the following matters:

VI. America's Destiny is Linked to our Information Infrastructure

The principles and goals outlined in this document provide a blueprint for government action on the NII. Applying them will ensure that government provides constructive assistance to U.S. industry, labor, academia and private citizens as they develop, deploy and use the infrastructure.

The potential benefits for the nation are immense. The NII will enable U.S. firms to compete and win in the global economy, generating good jobs for the American people and economic growth for the nation. As importantly, the NII promises to transform the lives of the American people. It can ameliorate the constraints of geography and economic status, and give all Americans a fair opportunity to go as far as their talents and ambitions will take them.

Executive Summary Benefits