THE OPPORTUNITY AND RESPONSIBILITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Major New Investments in Science and Technology Research
President Clinton n has announced that he will include a nearly $3 billion increase in the "Twenty-First Century Research Fund" in his FY2001 budget, including a $1 billion increase in biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health and double the largest dollar increase for the National Science Foundation in its 50 year history. These investments will ensure that science and technology will continue to fuel economic growth and allow Americans to lead longer, healthier lives. The funding includes increased support in all scientific and engineering disciplines, including biomedical research, nanotechnology, information technology, clean energy, and university-based research. The President's budget includes:
- $1 billion increase in biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health. The President's FY 2001 budget includes almost $19 billion, an increase of $1 billion over last year's funding level, for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health. In addition, the President will eliminate the delays in releasing $4 billion in research funds as required in last year's appropriations bill. This increase will support research in areas such as diabetes, brain disorders, cancer, genetic medicine, disease prevention strategies, and development of an AIDS vaccine. It will also help researchers complete in the near future a first draft of the entire human genome – the very blueprint of life. This and other wise investments in science are leading to a revolution in our ability to detect, treat, and prevent disease. If Congress passes the President's proposal, funding for NIH will increase by over 80 percent nearly twice what the NIH budget was when President Clinton came into office.
- A new $495 million National Nanotechnology Initiative. Nanotechnology - the ability to manipulate individual atoms and molecules - could revolutionize the 21st century in the same way that the transistor did the 20th. Increased investments in nanotechnology could lead to breakthroughs such as molecular computers that can store the contents of the Library of Congress in a device the size of a sugar cube, and new materials ten times stronger than steel and a fraction of the weight.
- A $675 million increase in the National Science Foundation -- double the largest dollar increase in NSF's history. This increase will boost university-based research and ensure balanced support for all science and engineering disciplines. NSF accounts for half of all non-health, university-based research.
- An almost $600 million increase in information technology research. This increase in information technology research could lead to advances such as high-speed wireless networks that can bring distance learning and telemedicine to isolated rural areas; and supercomputers that can more accurately predict tornadoes and hurricanes and more rapidly develop life-saving drugs.
Protecting Americans' Personal Privacy
As information technology transforms our government and our economy, a growing challenge is how to gain the benefits from the new technology while preserving one of our oldest values – privacy – in a variety of different settings:
- Medical Records: This year the Clinton-Gore Administration will issue historic, final rules that will legally guarantee the key privacy protections: notice of data uses; consent before records are used for non-medical purposes; patient access to records; proper security; and effective enforcement. President Clinton also will support legislation to expand the scope and enforcement of those rules
- Financial Information: Financial modernization legislation signed by President Clinton last year included important privacy protections, but more needs to be done. This year, the President will seek further protections, including consumer choice before financial firms can share their information within a corporate family.
- Genetic Information: As the human genome project nears completion, genetic testing and information will be increasingly common to help predict, prevent, and treat diseases. However, there are real concerns that as this information becomes increasingly common that it will be used not to promote health in a protected manner, but will be used as a basis for discrimination. There are already examples of employers using this type of information as a basis not to hire or promote individuals and studies are showing that Americans fear that this information will be misused. The President will stress the need for strong action on this issue.
- On-line: In the on-line world, the Clinton-Gore Administration has encouraged self-regulatory efforts by industry to address privacy issues posed by emerging technologies and will work with consumers, industry, and interested public officials to explore how best to address the growing practice of building detailed profiles of every action consumers take online.
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