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Technology Current Projects

Technological Innovation

· Nanotechnology
This is a new research area that has been proposed for FY 2001 underthe President's National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI).  Nanotechnologyis the creation and use of materials, devices, and systems through thecontrol of matter on the nanometer-length scale (that is, on the levelof atoms, molecules, and supramolecular structures).  The essenceof nanotechnology is the ability to work at these levels to generate largerstructures with fundamentally new molecular organization.  These "nanostructures"are the smallest human-made objects, and they exhibit novel physical, chemical,and biological properties and phenomena.  The aim of nanotechnologyis to learn to exploit these properties and phenomena and to efficientlymanufacture and employ the structures.


· Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV)
This historic public/private partnership between seven federal governmentagencies and the U.S. automobile industry is establishing global leadershipin the development and production of new vehicle technologies.  Thesetechnologies seek to preserve personal mobility, while reducing the impactof cars and light trucks on the environment and reducing our dependenceon imported petroleum.  PNGV's long-term goal (dubbed the "supercar"goal) is to develop an environmentally friendly car with up to three timesthe fuel efficiency of today's midsize cars -- without sacrificing safety,affordability, or performance.  This initiative was announced by PresidentClinton, Vice President Gore, and the CEOs of DaimlerChrysler, Ford, andGeneral Motors on September 29, 1993.  The Partnership's federal componentis led by the Department of Commerce in coordination with OSTP.  Researchsupport is also provided by over 350 universities, automotive suppliers,and small businesses.


· Partnership for Advanced Technologies in Housing (PATH)
On May 4, 1998, the President announced a new partnership with America'sbuilding industry to dramatically improve the energy efficiency of ourhomes.  This initiative seeks to cut consumer energy costs by 30-50%,while reducing the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.  Federalgovernment agencies, in conjunction with OSTP, are working with builders,developers, product suppliers, insurers, and financiers to develop anddemonstrate new technologies to improve the quality of housing withoutincreasing construction costs.  PATH goals include creating consumerdemand and the capability to build cheaper, more disaster resistant, durablehomes by 2010.


· United States Innovation Partnership (USIP)
The United States Innovation Partnership is a cooperative partnershipbetween states and the federal government that was initiated by the nation'sgovernors and the Administration in February 1997.  This effort promotesnew economic growth, high-quality jobs, and globally competitive businessesby linking science and technology leadership and resources with industriesand universities.   USIP task forces have been formed to (1)built partnerships to leverage federal investment in the Small BusinessInnovation Research (SBIR) program in federal agencies, (2) promote electroniccommerce, (3) shape the evolution of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership(MEP) [http://www.mep.nist.gov/], and (4) provide technology informationto entrepreneurs.

Information Technology

Education and Training Technology

  • Executive Order 13111  Using Technology to Improve Training Opportunitiesfor Federal Government Employees

  • New instructional technologies can make education and training, atwork and at home, easier and more convenient for all American workers. Federal programs that provide financial support for lifelong learning shouldadapt to the new opportunities technology provides. Executive Order 13111(EO), signed by the President on January 12, 1999, establishes an interagencyTask Force to coordinate Federal efforts to employ technology and to providemore flexible, accessible and cost effective training opportunities toFederal employees. Although many agencies are already improving trainingby using new technology, other opportunities are being explored. The EO also establishes a Presidential Advisory Committee to review howFederal training programs, initiatives, and policies can better supportlifelong learning for all Americans through the use of learning technology.

    In August, 1999, the Task Force delivered to the President, throughOSTP and NEC, options and recommendations for establishing a Federal IndividualTraining Account for each Federal worker for training relevant to his orher Federal employment.   See www.technology-taskforce.gov.  In July, 2000, the Task Force also will deliver policy recommendationson the effective use of technology to improve training opportunities forFederal Government employees.

  • Digitization

  • OSTP participates in the interagency effort, America's Treasures Online,to galvanize Federal efforts to get Federal collections online and to challengethe American community to find ways to help us both by assisting in effortsto get national collections on line and taking the leadership to sponsorefforts to get local collections on line.  The Smithsonian Institution,the National Archives, and other Federal agencies are the custodians ofpriceless records of American achievements in the arts and sciences aswell as the raw material of American history.   Federal governmentis the custodian of such things as the Apollo 11 command module, recordingsof Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, and the compass Lewisand Clark used to explore the American west.   Priceless collectionsare held in museums and other centers around the country.  New digitaltechnology and the Internet give us powerful new tools for making these   materials easily available to homes and schools throughout America.
  • Virtual Reference Desk

  • The Virtual Reference Desk is a special project of the ERIC Clearinghouseon Information & Technology and the National Library of Education ofthe Department of Education and sponsored by OSTP. The initial projectcreated a research and resource foundation for existing digital referenceservices that allow students to ask questions of an expert--known as "AskAservices."  This project is being expanded into a national switchboardand resource center for aiding existing services as well as creating newservices.  The Virtual Reference Desk project creates a national cooperativedigital     reference service for the K-12 educationcommunity through virtual volunteerism.  Every week thousands of students,teachers, librarians, partners and other members of the education communityget answers to their questions from qualified volunteers through the Internet. The ultimate goal of the Virtual Reference Desk project is to allow allqualified individuals interested in volunteering their time to answer thequestions of the K-12 community through AskA services.  These servicesuse a broad range of   approaches and Internet capabilities toanswer questions of students and educators on the Internet by linking themto expert respondents. The Virtual Reference Desk seeks to   understanding how exemplary K-12 digital reference organizations buildand maintain services in the complex Internet environment, so that newstrategies and solutions can also be developed.  New Internet informationservices can use the existing digital reference services as models formeeting future needs of the K-12 education community.
  • Computers for Learning

  • President Clinton defined the mission of Computers for Learning inExecutive Order 12999, Educational Technology:  Ensuring Opportunityfor All Children in the Next Century,  which states his goal, "toensure that American children have the skills they need to succeed in theinformation intensive 21st Century."  The Program is designed to  streamline the transfer of surplus Federal computer equipment to schoolsand nonprofit educational organizations, giving special consideration tothose with the greatest need.  Schools and educational profits canquickly and easily register to request surplus Federal computer equipmentthrough the website at www.computers.fed.gov.
  • Challenging Coursework Online

  • OSTP is working with a number of interagency groups to launch demonstrationprojects of high quality online coursework, most notably in medical instructionand ESL. The potential of modern computing such as visualization tools,simulations, and forming distributed networks of teachers and learnershave not been captured in most education and training markets.  Computers and communication links already available in many workplacesand homes are capable of supporting a range of powerful new learning toolsincluding intelligent tutoring, lectures delivered over the net using streamingvoice (and in some cases video),  “push technology” for shared graphicsand charts, shared whiteboards, and e-mail based conversations with instructorsand tutors.   The technology permits the material to be continuouslyupdated and reflect up-to-date research findings, and can be tailored tothe specific needs of the individual learner.  The technology alsomakes it possible to deliver simulations that allow participants to learnby doing.

    It progress in using these technologies to improve learning has beenslow, in part,  because of the complexity and cost of developing neededsoftware.  Most existing net-based software has involved little morethan conversion of text to hypertext.  Recent advances in softwaredevelopment, particularly the emergence of XML and Java, may change thissituation rapidly.  The new software techniques may make it possibleto increase the quality and reduce the cost of producing and deliveringhigh-quality instruction over both wide area and local area networks. A key concept appears to be the use of modular units of software (“objects”)which can be extended and combined to make a complex simulation or a lesson. Given adherence to emerging voluntary standards, these objects can be reused,combined, and operate on a variety of systems – including future systems– without costly modifications.  This could mean that an investmentin an expensive simulation component can be sold to a large market therebydriving down unit costs.

    An entirely new approach to instruction can be developed if powerfulsimulations can be purchased at a reasonable cost.  Instruction canbe designed to be sensitive to the background, needs, and interests ofeach learner.  The gap separating formal instruction and actual practicecan be narrowed, increasing interest and retention.   And instructorsand specialists can help with the instruction even if they are geographicallydistant from the nurses receiving the instruction.

    Space and Aeronautics

    National Space Policy
    Since 1993, the Clinton Administration has established and implementeda series of space policies to address a broad range of civil, nationalsecurity, and commercial activities. These policies are based on the experienceof the United States in space over the past 40 years.  They recognizethe current domestic and international environments —most importantly,the end of the Cold War — and reflect the growing maturity of the U.S.government and commercial and international space capabilities.  Thesepolicies explain major Administration initiatives, goals, and priorities;they establish and enable U.S. government agency roles and activities;and they recognize the interactions among the four space sectors — civil,military, intelligence, and commercial.  In 1996, the President signedthe overarching NationalSpace Policy, the principal document guiding the activities of theU.S. civil, national security, and commercial space sectors. This importantpolicy ensures that the United States will maintain its role as a worldleader in space by supporting a strong, stable, balanced national spaceprogram that serves broad goals in national security, foreign policy, economicgrowth, environmental stewardship, and scientific and technical excellence. OSTP works closely with the U.S. space sectors to oversee the implementationof the President's goals and priorities as established by these policies.
    For additional information, please see the NationalSpace Policy Press Release.

    Key Space Policy Directives:

    Global Positioning System:
    FactSheet – U.S. Global Positioning System Policy, 3/29/96

    Remote Sensing:
    FactSheet – U.S. Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite Systems,5/5/94
    FactSheet – Landsat Remote Sensing Strategy, 5/10/94

    Space Transportation:
    FactSheet – National Space Transportation Policy, 8/5/94

    Key National Programs:

    International Space Station:
    Aviation Safety:

    Global Positioning System
    The U.S. Department of Defense funded, developed, and today operatesthe Global Positioning System (GPS) as a satellite-based, radio-navigationsystem. Through coded satellite signals that can be processed in a user'sreceiver, GPS allows users to determine their three-dimensional position,velocity, and time from anywhere on Earth, whether on land, sea, or inthe air. Although designed for military use, GPS is used by civilians worldwidefor navigation, surveying, and precise timekeeping.  The civil GPSsystem can determine a user's position with an accuracy of better than100 meters, while the military GPS system can achieve better than 10-meteraccuracy.  OSTP developed and is now helping to implement the President's1996 U.S. Global Positioning System Policy.  OSTP also works withU.S. government agencies and participates in international discussionsto protect the portion of the radio spectrum in which GPS operates fromencroachment by other spectrum users. In addition, OSTP assists with agreementsbetween the United States and other nations on the cooperative use of GPSas an international standard.

    Additional information:
    Pressrelease on the U.S. Global Positioning System Policy

    Remote Sensing
    OSTP assists with implementation of President Clinton's 1994 LandsatRemote Sensing Strategy and the U.S. Policy on Foreign Access to RemoteSensing Space Capabilities. Landsat satellites orbit the Earth and provideimages that give us calibrated data on the planet's surface that is usefulto a broad user community, including the agricultural community, globalchange researchers, state and local governments, the military, and commercialusers.  The 1994 policy provides for the continuation of the Landsatprogram, detailing government agency responsibilities for managing andoperating the program and issuing guidance for the sale of Landsat datasets. The policy also promotes private-sector commercial opportunitiesin Landsat-type remote sensing.  OSTP facilitates interactions betweengovernment and industry on foreign policy and national security issues,as well as assists business planning related to commercial remote sensingactivities.  OSTP also helped to develop the President's 1994 policyon Convergence of U.S. Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental SatelliteSystems.  This policy initiated the integration of the civil and militarypolar orbiting weather satellite programs into a single National PolarOrbiting Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) that is designed to satisfyoperational goals while reducing satellite operational and acquisitioncosts.

    Additional Presidential statements on remote sensing:
    Statementon Export of Satellite Imagery and Imaging Systems, 3/10/94
    WhiteHouse Statement on NASA Triana Mission, 3/8/00

    Additional Information:
    NASALandsat link page:
    USGSLandsat-7 home page

    Space Transportation
    In 1994, the President issued the National Space Transportation Policythat outlines the nation's goals and plans for maintaining and modernizingU.S. capabilities to ensure reliable and affordable access to space forthe civil, national security, and commercial space sectors. The policydescribes each sector's responsibilities for ensuring that the United Statesmaintains strong space transportation capabilities.
    · CIVIL SECTOR: According to the 1994 policy, NASA is responsiblefor assuring that the Space Shuttle system is safe and reliable. Another NASA responsibility is to work with the private sector to developtechnology and demonstration vehicles for a next-generation reusable launchsystem.  NASA has partnered with industry to develop the X-33 andX-34 reusable launch vehicle technology demonstration vehicles.  Theseefforts will help the government and the private sector decide whetherto develop a new, operation reusable launch vehicle early in the 21st century.OSTP monitors Space Shuttle safety issues and supports development of reusablelaunch vehicle demonstration vehicles.
    · NATIONAL SECURITY SECTOR: The 1994 policy assigns the Departmentof Defense, in cooperation with the U.S. commercial space sector, responsibilityfor improving efficiency and lowering the cost of expendable launch vehicles. In October 1998, the Department of Defense awarded contracts to two privatelaunch companies to develop new families of expendable launch vehicles.OSTP supported the Department of Defense's selection and awarding of thesecontracts.
    · COMMERCIAL SECTOR: The President's 1994 policy reiteratesthe federal government's long-standing commitment to encouraging a viablecommercial U.S. space launch industry.  OSTP supports this industry-friendlypolicy, which has enabled the U.S. commercial space sector to replace thegovernment as the U.S. space sector with the highest annual launch rate. In 1998, the United States surpassed all other nations in commercial spacelaunches, capturing 47% of the world market. The U.S. commercial launchrate has doubled since 1996.  OSTP also addresses Administration viewson space launch-related legislation proposed by Congress to aid the U.S.private launch industry.

    Additional Presidential statements:
    Statementon National Space Transportation Policy, 8/5/94

    In the spring of 1999, the National Security Council and OSTP formedan Interagency Working Group (IWG) to review the future management anduse of the primary U.S. space launch bases and ranges.  This reviewwas undertaken in response to issues raised as a result of the successfulgrowth of U.S. commercial space launch activity since 1994 and the increasingreliance of government agencies on commercially provided launch services. The Report of the IWG on the Future Management and Use of the U.S. SpaceLaunch Bases and Ranges [needs correct link added--http://ast.faa.gov]investigates the roles and responsibilities of federal government agenciesand the U.S. commercial space sector.  It also discusses the majorpolicy and management issues resulting from the shift in launch base usefrom government-dominated to commercial, market-driven activities.  The report also provides development alternatives and management recommendationsfor the launch ranges over the next ten to twenty years.

    WhiteHouse Initiates Review on Space Launch Ranges, 3/99

    Additional information:
    NASA's Space Transportation System (Shuttle)home page
    NASA X-33 homepage
    NASA X-34 homepage
    USAF EELVhome page

    International Space Station
    Once fully assembled, the International Space Station (ISS) will bethe world's largest scientific project involving international collaboration. Sixteen nations, led by the United States, are working to build, operate,and occupy the ISS.  It will be a symbol of the great accomplishmentsthat can result from global cooperation in the post-Cold War era. Constantlyorbiting the Earth, ISS will serve as a world-class laboratory for scientificand technological research in the unique environment of space.  Thefirst two elements of ISS were launched and joined in orbit in Novemberand December of 1998.  Forty-five Space Shuttle and Russian rocketmissions will deliver over 100 pieces of hardware to orbit so that theISS can be completed by the year 2004.  OSTP serves as the White Housefocal point for ISS policy and program oversight.  OSTP has been workingclosely with NASA to develop and implement U.S. contingency plans to protectagainst potential shortfalls in Russia's ability to meet its commitmentsto the ISS.

    Additional information:
    NASA ISS homepage

    National Aviation Research
    In November 1999, The National Science and Technology Council publishedthe NationalResearch and Development Plan for Aviation Safety, Security, Efficiencyand Environmental Compatibility.  This plan describes coordinatedlong-term research initiatives to bring about advances in aviation thatwill be required in the opening decades of the 21st century.  It isin direct response to the Gore Commission on Aviation Safety and Security,and was developed under the 1998 Memorandum of Understanding by the FederalAviation Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration,and the Department of Defense.  The plan defines the nation's civilaviation goals and demonstrates how federal agencies are accomplishingthese goals.  It lays out twenty-five roadmaps showing the relationshipbetween research and operational actions to improve civil aviation. The plan also serves as a baseline for government and industry in buildingconsensus toward an integrated aviation system of the future.
    Aviation Security
    OSTP has coordinated the Administration's appeal, via a letter fromthe Vice President, to Congress that resulted in an additional $100 millionfor deployment of explosive detection systems at the nation's airports.

    Additional information:
    WhiteHouse NSTC Releases Aviation R&D Plan, 12/6/99.
    Goalsfor A National Partnership in Aeronautics Research and Technology, NationalScience and Technology Council, 9/11/95

    Office of Science andTechnology Policy
    Technology Division
    1600 PennsylvaniaAve, N.W
    Room 423
    Washington, DC20502

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