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A Record of Leadership in Electronic Government and Technology

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For Immediate Release September 21, 2000

President Clinton and Vice President Gore:
A Record of Leadership in Electronic Government and Technology

President Clinton and Vice President Gore have used the power of the Internet to cut red tape and make government more responsive to the needs of citizens. Today, as a result of the President and Vice President's leadership, every Cabinet department has a web site to make information and services available to the American people at the touch of a button. Small businesses can get information on loans, parents can find information about financial aid, and taxpayers can file their taxes and find answers to their questions -- all on government web sites. With the launch of FirstGov, all of the government's online resources will be available and searchable at a single website. This new site builds on the Clinton-Gore Administration's record of leadership in expanding electronic government and fostering the growth of technology. As the first Administration of the Internet Age, President Clinton and Vice President Gore have worked to expand the use of technology in schools, to bridge the digital divide and make technology available for all Americans, to promote electronic commerce, and accelerate research and development that will help create more high-paying jobs in the future.

LEADERSHIP TO CONNECT CHILDREN TO THE FUTURE President Clinton and Vice President Gore have fought for investments in technology training for teachers, modern computers in the classroom, and high-quality education software. Technology in the classroom can make it easier for parents and teachers to communicate, prepare our children for the high-tech workplace of the 21st century, and help improve student performance in all academic subjects. As a result of the Clinton-Gore educational technology initiative:

  • The overall investment in education technology has increased from $23 million in 1993 to $769 million in FY 2000.
  • The number of classrooms connected to the Internet classrooms connected to the Internet has increased from 3 percent in 1993 to 65 percent in 1999.
  • The "E-rate," proposed by the Vice President and passed as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, is providing $2.25 billion in 20% - 90% discounts to connect schools and libraries to the Internet, with the deepest discounts going to the poorest schools that need it most. Over 647,000 classrooms will be connected to the Internet as a direct result of E-Rate discounts and, in part because of these efforts, 90 percent of the poorest schools now have access to the Internet.
  • Grants supported by the Department of Education are training 400,000 new teachers to use technology effectively in the classroom. The Clinton-Gore Administration's FY 2001 budget proposes doubling last year's investment of $75 million to ensure that all new teachers entering the workforce are computer literate and can integrate technology into the curriculum.

BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE Currently, 80 percent of households with an income of $75,000 or above have computers, compared to 16 percent of households earning $10,000 - $15,0000. In addition to ensuring that all schools and libraries are connected to the Internet, President Clinton and Vice President Gore have also taken other steps to bridge the digital divide and create new opportunity for all Americans:

  • Since 1992, the President and Vice President have tripled funding for Community Technology Centers. The President's FY 2001 budget calls for $100 million to create 1,000 Community Technology Centers that will expand 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. Examples include the use of telemedicine for prenatal care, telementoring for at-risk youth, a national computer network for local food banks, 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 successfully mobilized major public and private efforts bridge the digital divide in his April 2000 trip to East Palo Alto, California; Shiprock, New Mexico; Chicago, Illinois; and rural North Carolina. Over 400 companies and non-profit organizations signed a "National Call To Action" to bring digital opportunity to youth, families, and communities. The call to action set goals such as ensuring that every child is technologically literate, and making home access to the Internet as ubiquitous as the telephone.

PROMOTING E-COMMERCE Electronic commerce is making it easier for small businesses to reach hundreds of millions of customers around the world. For consumers, e-commerce can mean more choice, greater convenience, customized products, and lower prices. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have pursued a policy that allows electronic commerce to flourish by eliminating unnecessary government regulations and relying on private sector leadership whenever possible. The Administration has made significant progress on many of its top e-commerce priorities:

  • President Clinton signed into law the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which created a 3-year moratorium on Internet access taxes and taxes that discriminate against e-commerce and established a commission to look at the long-term tax issues raised by e-commerce.
  • The Clinton-Gore 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."
  • 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.
  • In October 1998, the President signed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, helping to protect America's intellectual property in cyberspace.
  • 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 Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires commercial Web sites to get a parent's permission before collecting personal information from minors. In May 1999, Vice President Gore announced the Parents' 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 children's online activities.
  • The Administration is now working to provide easy access to grant and procurement opportunities. This year, the federal government will award roughly $300 billion in grants and buy $200 billion in goods and services. Over the coming year, the Administration will make it possible for people to go online and learn about the vast majority of these procurements and grant opportunities through a simple process.

ACCELERATING RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT Today's Internet is an outgrowth of U.S. government-funded research in the late 1960s (the ARPANET). To maintain America's technological edge, it is critical that the government increases investment in long-term research. That's why President Clinton and Vice President Gore have fought for the "Next Generation Internet" - which is connecting universities and national labs at speeds that are 1,000 times faster than today's Internet. The FY 2001 budget invests $2.3 billion in the Information Technology R&D program, which includes $89 million for the Next Generation Internet. Every budget the Clinton-Gore Administration has submitted to Congress has increased investments in research and deployment, helping to develop the ideas that will be reflected in productivity growth for decades to come.


  • First Vice Presidential Town Hall: The Vice President became the first nationally elected official to participate in a live, electronic town meeting on June 13, 1994.
  • First Presidential Webchat: On November 9, 1999, President Clinton took part in the first online chat between a sitting President and citizens of the United States.
  • First Electronic Bill Signing: On June 30, 2000, the President signed the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act with a "smart card"
  • First Saturday Web Address: On June 24, 2000, President Clinton brought the tradition of the Saturday Presidential Radio Address online when he first announced that within 90 days, citizens would be able to search all on-line resources offered by the federal government from FirstGov.

FIRSTGOV STRENGTHENS AMERICANS' CONNECTION TO GOVERNMENT Today, exactly 90 days after his Web address announcement, the President is launching FirstGov, a single point-of-entry to one of the largest and most useful collection of web pages in the world. This cutting-edge site will bring government closer to the American people, expanding the reach of democracy and making government more responsive to citizens. The FirstGov website will:

  • Make it faster and easier for citizens to locate government information and services, allowing them to access government information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Allow citizens to search for government information by topic, rather than by agency.
  • Searches half a billion documents in less than one-quarter of a second.
  • Employs strong privacy standards to safeguard citizens' online communications and transactions with the government.

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