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Background

Today, the private sector is developing and deploying information infrastructure. At the same time, the government is concurrently developing and deploying information infrastructure, mostly through contracts with the private sector. Under the lead of and at the encouragement of the Clinton/Gore Administration, the federal government has placed increased emphasis on the development and deployment of an NII as a strategic priority. This emphasis results from the understanding that properly leveraged information and information technology are among the nation's most critical economic resources, for manufacturing industries as well as for more modern services industries for economic security and for national security.

The Clinton/Gore Administration has made a commitment to work with business, labor, academia, public interest groups, Congress, and both state and local government to ensure the development of an NII that enables all Americans to access information and communicate with each other using combinations of voice, data, images, or video at anytime, anywhere.2 This commitment was articulated very well by the National Performance Review (NPR) through its emphasis on using IT as a key element in creating a government that works better and costs less.3 The President and Vice President recognize the need to use IT to improve Americans' quality of life and to reinvigorate the economy. To this end, they outlined a three-part agenda for spreading IT's benefits to the federal government: (1) strengthen leadership in IT, (2) implement electronic government, and (3) establish support mechanisms for electronic government. Thirteen major IT areas were identified for accomplishing the three-part agenda:

1.

Provide clear, strong leadership to integrate IT into the business of government;

2.

Implement nationwide, integrated electronic benefit transfer;

3.

Develop integrated electronic access to government information and services;

4.

Establish a national law enforcement/public safety network;

5.

Provide intergovernmental tax filing, reporting, and payments processing;

6.

Establish an international trade data system;

7.

Create a national environmental data index;

8.

Plan, demonstrate, and provide government-wide electronic mail;

9.

Improve government's information infrastructure;

10.

Develop systems and mechanisms to ensure privacy and security;

11.

Improve methods of IT acquisition;

12.

Provide incentives for innovation; and

13.

Provide training and technical assistance in IT to federal employees.

Development of an NII is not an end goal in or of itself. Government requires an infrastructure to conduct its business more effectively and to deliver services to the American citizenry at lower cost to the taxpayers. A number of suitable national-scale applications or uses of the NII have been identified and documented by the IITF's Committee on Applications and Technology.4 These uses of the NII, in addition to nationwide humanistic applications such as health care and education, include the fundamental businesses or enterprises of the federal government such as law enforcement, electronic commerce (including benefits), basic research, environment, health care, and national security, and as such represent a significant set of driving requirements for NII deployment.

In recognizing this fact, the NPR concluded that the government use of IT and development of information infrastructure should be improved and better coordinated in order to effectively address government business requirements. The NPR made approximately 60 recommendations for action in this regard, including the development of a plan for a GSII to electronically deliver government services and to integrate electronic access to government-provided information and services. The GSII is that portion of the NII used to link government and its services, enable virtual agency concepts, protect privacy, and support emergency preparedness needs. It was also recognized that better integration and coordination were required not only across federal government



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