MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
SUBJECT: Use of Information Technology to Improve Our Society
The Internet and other information and communications technologies are
changing the way we work, learn, communicate with each other, and do
business. These technologies are shaping our economy and our society in
the same way that the steam engine and electricity defined the
In recent years, information technology has driven the U.S. economy.
Businesses are scrambling to use the Internet to increase productivity,
boost exports, cut the time required to develop new products, and forge
closer relationships with customers and suppliers. My Administration
has pursued a market-led approach to global electronic commerce that
relies whenever possible on private sector leadership and seeks to
eliminate legal and regulatory barriers to electronic commerce while
protecting the public interest.
The Internet has the potential to enhance civil society as well as to
boost commerce. Used creatively, the Internet and information
technology can be a powerful tool for tackling some of our toughest
social challenges as well as fostering economic growth. Information
technology can and is being used to make it easier for working adults to
acquire new skills, increase access to healthcare in isolated rural
communities, improve the quality of life for people with disabilities,
and strengthen our democracy.
My Administration has led the effort to explain and support the
commercial and societal benefits of information technology to the
American people. However, we can and must do more. To that end, I am
directing executive department and agency heads in this memorandum to
take certain actions. As they carry out these actions, they should:
(a) adopt policies that will remove barriers to private sector
investment in Internet applications; (b) explore partnerships with
companies, State, local, and tribal governments, and other entities,
such as nonprofit organizations and universities; (c) explore innovative
mechanisms for fostering a national discussion on the potential of the
electronic society; (d) consider other policies to promote the
electronic society, such as the establishment of national goals; and (e)
review the recommendations of the President's Information Technology
Advisory Committee, particularly as they relate to support for
information technology applications with broad societal benefits.
Therefore, to further promote the broader social benefits of the
Information Age to the American people, I direct the officials in this
memorandum to take the following actions:
The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall identify
additional steps that can be taken to promote expanded access to
higher quality, cost-effective health care to underserved rural
communities and inner city clinics, and other health-care
applications of information technology.
The Secretary of Education shall support and encourage States and
local communities to make "school report cards" available on the
Internet. The Secretary of the Interior shall make it possible for
"school report cards" on Bureau of Indian Affairs schools and
tribally controlled schools to be available on the Internet.
The Secretaries of Education and Labor shall work with States and
institutions of higher education to remove legal and regulatory
barriers to high-quality distance learning, to increase awareness
of the availability of distance learning as an alternative means of
education and training, and to find ways to promote the earning of
credentials through distance learning. The Secretary of Education
shall assist the Tribal Colleges and Universities in developing
associate and baccalaureate programs in information technology,
using innovative distance learning technology.
The Secretary of Education shall propose the next phase of my
Administration's Educational Technology Initiative. The next phase
should address teacher training, the integration of technology in
the curriculum, the evaluation of technology, the market for
educational software and web content, the need for more multimedia
computers in the classroom, and the need for investments in
educational technology research and development.
The Secretary of Labor shall determine how telecommuting might
be used to help more disabled Americans get jobs and to provide
jobs for Americans located in geographic regions outside
traditional commuting areas, including isolated tribal communities.
The Secretary of Education and the Director of the National Science
Foundation shall develop a research agenda for making the Internet
and information technology more usable by persons with
disabilities. The Secretary of Commerce shall encourage the
private sector to make web content, software, and development tools
more accessible for people with disabilities by adopting technical
standards consistent with the Web Accessibility Initiative.
The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall
develop a national strategy for promoting environmental
applications of information technology (such as disseminating
information about manufacturing techniques that reduce pollution,
and increasing the timeliness of environmental information).
The Secretary of Agriculture shall identify services that can be
delivered electronically to rural Americans (such as the results of
Federally funded research at our Nation's land-grant universities),
and develop the policies needed to promote the availability of
advanced telecommunications services in rural and tribal
The Secretary of Commerce shall identify policies that will
encourage more effective use of information technology by nonprofit
The Secretary of the Treasury, in coordination with appropriate
Federal agencies and private sector stakeholders, shall identify
policy initiatives that promote greater access to financial
services through the use of information technology.
The Secretary of the Interior shall identify policies that will
accelerate the use of unclassified geospatial information systems
at the State, local, and tribal level.
The Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency shall work
with research universities and the private sector to apply advances
in information technology to managing the consequences of natural
and man-made disasters.
The Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, the Director of the
National Science Foundation, the Director of the National Park
Service, and the Director of the Institute of Museum and Library
Services shall work with the private sector and cultural and
educational institutions across the country to create a Digital
Library of Education to house this country's cultural and
The Attorney General shall work with Federal, State, local, and
tribal law enforcement agencies to use information technologies to
make our Nation's communities safer.
Items 1-14 of this memorandum and my July 1, 1997, and November 30,
1998, memoranda shall be conducted subject to the availability of
appropriations, consistent with the agencies' priorities and my
budget, and to the extent permitted by law.
The Vice President shall continue his leadership in coordinating
the United States Government's electronic commerce strategy.
Further, I direct that the heads of agencies report to the Vice
President and to me on their progress in meeting the terms of the
memorandum, through the Electronic Commerce Working Group (ECWG) in
its annual report. To the extent that substantial new policy
issues emerge, the analysis and action on those policies will be
coordinated in a manner consistent with the responsibilities of the
ECWG, the National Economic Council, and the Domestic Policy
Council, as appropriate.