Technology Current Projects

Technological Innovation

· Nanotechnology
This is a new research area that has been proposed for FY 2001 under the President's National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI).  Nanotechnology is the creation and use of materials, devices, and systems through the control of matter on the nanometer-length scale (that is, on the level of atoms, molecules, and supramolecular structures).  The essence of nanotechnology is the ability to work at these levels to generate larger structures 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 nanotechnology is to learn to exploit these properties and phenomena and to efficiently manufacture and employ the structures.

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

· 21st Century Truck - A Government/Industry R&D Partnership
This Government/industry partnership is for research and development of technologies that will dramatically cut the fuel use and emissions of medium and heavy trucks and buses.  The innovations resulting from this partnership will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, improve our Nation's air quality, and enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. truck and bus industry, while ensuring safe and affordable freight and bus transportation for the Nation's economy.  R&D of the advanced technology needed to achieve the "stretch" goals of the initiative (3 times the fuel economy of medium commercial trucks and transit buses, and 2 times for tractor-trailer rigs) requires a "teaming" effort among truck companies and their suppliers.  The Federal government brings to the table R&D resources such as the capabilities resident in government laboratories.  The initiative was announced by Vice President Gore on April 21, 2000 at a gathering of the U.S. trucking and supporting industries, concerned environmentalists, and Federal agency representatives.  The Partnership's federal component is led by the Department of Energy, in coordination with OSTP.  Other federal agencies involved are the Department of Transportation, the Department of Defense (represented by the Army), and the Environmental Protection Agency.  Government and industry will coordinate R&D efforts and share the cost on a 50/50 basis.

· Partnership for Advanced Technologies in Housing (PATH)
On May 4, 1998, the President announced a new partnership with America's building industry to dramatically improve the energy efficiency of our homes.  This initiative seeks to cut consumer energy costs by 30-50%, while reducing the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.  Federal government agencies, in conjunction with OSTP, are working with builders, developers, product suppliers, insurers, and financiers to develop and demonstrate new technologies to improve the quality of housing without increasing construction costs.  PATH goals include creating consumer demand and the capability to build cheaper, more disaster resistant, durable homes by 2010.

· United States Innovation Partnership (USIP)
The United States Innovation Partnership is a cooperative partnership between states and the federal government that was initiated by the nation's governors and the Administration in February 1997.  This effort promotes new economic growth, high-quality jobs, and globally competitive businesses by linking science and technology leadership and resources with industries and universities.   USIP task forces have been formed to (1) built partnerships to leverage federal investment in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program in federal agencies, (2) promote electronic commerce, (3) shape the evolution of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) [], and (4) provide technology information to entrepreneurs.

Information Technology

Education and Training Technology

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

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

    In August, 1999, the Task Force delivered to the President, through OSTP and NEC, options and recommendations for establishing a Federal Individual Training Account for each Federal worker for training relevant to his or her Federal employment.   See   In July, 2000, the Task Force also will deliver policy recommendations on the effective use of technology to improve training opportunities for Federal Government employees.

  • Digitization

  • OSTP participates in the interagency effort, America's Treasures Online, to galvanize Federal efforts to get Federal collections online and to challenge the American community to find ways to help us both by assisting in efforts to get national collections on line and taking the leadership to sponsor efforts to get local collections on line.  The Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives, and other Federal agencies are the custodians of priceless records of American achievements in the arts and sciences as well as the raw material of American history.   Federal government is the custodian of such things as the Apollo 11 command module, recordings of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, and the compass Lewis and Clark used to explore the American west.   Priceless collections are held in museums and other centers around the country.  New digital technology 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 Clearinghouse on Information & Technology and the National Library of Education of the Department of Education and sponsored by OSTP. The initial project created a research and resource foundation for existing digital reference services that allow students to ask questions of an expert--known as "AskA services."  This project is being expanded into a national switchboard and resource center for aiding existing services as well as creating new services.  The Virtual Reference Desk project creates a national cooperative digital     reference service for the K-12 education community through virtual volunteerism.  Every week thousands of students, teachers, librarians, partners and other members of the education community get answers to their questions from qualified volunteers through the Internet.  The ultimate goal of the Virtual Reference Desk project is to allow all qualified individuals interested in volunteering their time to answer the questions of the K-12 community through AskA services.  These services use a broad range of   approaches and Internet capabilities to answer questions of students and educators on the Internet by linking them to expert respondents. The Virtual Reference Desk seeks to    understanding how exemplary K-12 digital reference organizations build and maintain services in the complex Internet environment, so that new strategies and solutions can also be developed.  New Internet information services can use the existing digital reference services as models for meeting future needs of the K-12 education community.
  • Computers for Learning

  • President Clinton defined the mission of Computers for Learning in Executive Order 12999, Educational Technology:  Ensuring Opportunity for All Children in the Next Century,  which states his goal, "to ensure that American children have the skills they need to succeed in the information intensive 21st Century."  The Program is designed to   streamline the transfer of surplus Federal computer equipment to schools and nonprofit educational organizations, giving special consideration to those with the greatest need.  Schools and educational profits can quickly and easily register to request surplus Federal computer equipment through the website at
  • Challenging Coursework Online

  • OSTP is working with a number of interagency groups to launch demonstration projects of high quality online coursework, most notably in medical instruction and ESL. The potential of modern computing such as visualization tools, simulations, and forming distributed networks of teachers and learners have not been captured in most education and training markets.   Computers and communication links already available in many workplaces and homes are capable of supporting a range of powerful new learning tools including intelligent tutoring, lectures delivered over the net using streaming voice (and in some cases video),  "push technology" for shared graphics and charts, shared whiteboards, and e-mail based conversations with instructors and tutors.   The technology permits the material to be continuously updated and reflect up-to-date research findings, and can be tailored to the specific needs of the individual learner.  The technology also makes it possible to deliver simulations that allow participants to learn by doing.

    It progress in using these technologies to improve learning has been slow, in part,  because of the complexity and cost of developing needed software.  Most existing net-based software has involved little more than conversion of text to hypertext.  Recent advances in software development, particularly the emergence of XML and Java, may change this situation rapidly.  The new software techniques may make it possible to increase the quality and reduce the cost of producing and delivering high-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 investment in an expensive simulation component can be sold to a large market thereby driving down unit costs.

    An entirely new approach to instruction can be developed if powerful simulations can be purchased at a reasonable cost.  Instruction can be designed to be sensitive to the background, needs, and interests of each learner.  The gap separating formal instruction and actual practice can be narrowed, increasing interest and retention.   And instructors and specialists can help with the instruction even if they are geographically distant from the nurses receiving the instruction.

    · Community Alliance for Science and Technology Literacy (CASTL) Program
    To maintain U.S. economic competitiveness, quality improvement of science and math education is a top priority. Recruitment challenges have prompted numerous program proposals. The Department of Education estimates that the nation's schools will need 200,000 new science and math teachers over the next ten years. The Community Alliance for Science and Technology Literacy (CASTL) Program is a joint program of OSTP and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Its goal is to enhance the professional development of U.S. science and technology teachers through education-business partnerships. Under CASTL, a school board and local businesses cooperatively recruit math, science, and technology teachers, together providing a year-long salary for at least four years. Businesses provide summer employment for the teachers, and the teachers' earnings are more commensurate with private sector income. Communities leverage collective strengths to attract math, science and technology teachers, and students benefit from real-world challenges brought to the classroom by the teachers. NIST has completed a CASTL solicitation for a small number of pilot sites and will make awards to first-phase pilot communities soon.

    Space and Aeronautics

    National Space Policy
    Since 1993, the Clinton Administration has established and implemented a series of space policies to address a broad range of civil, national security, and commercial activities. These policies are based on the experience of the United States in space over the past 40 years.  They recognize the 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.  These policies 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 signed the overarching National Space Policy, the principal document guiding the activities of the U.S. civil, national security, and commercial space sectors. This important policy ensures that the United States will maintain its role as a world leader in space by supporting a strong, stable, balanced national space program that serves broad goals in national security, foreign policy, economic growth, environmental stewardship, and scientific and technical excellence.  OSTP works closely with the U.S. space sectors to oversee the implementation of the President's goals and priorities as established by these policies.
    For additional information, please see the National Space Policy Press Release.

    Key Space Policy Directives:

    Global Positioning System:
    Fact Sheet - U.S. Global Positioning System Policy, 3/29/96

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

    Space Transportation:
    Fact Sheet - 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 operates the Global Positioning System (GPS) as a satellite-based, radio-navigation system. Through coded satellite signals that can be processed in a user's receiver, GPS allows users to determine their three-dimensional position, velocity, and time from anywhere on Earth, whether on land, sea, or in the air. Although designed for military use, GPS is used by civilians worldwide for navigation, surveying, and precise timekeeping.  The civil GPS system can determine a user's position with an accuracy of better than 100 meters, while the military GPS system can achieve better than 10-meter accuracy.  OSTP developed and is now helping to implement the President's 1996 U.S. Global Positioning System Policy.  OSTP also works with U.S. government agencies and participates in international discussions to protect the portion of the radio spectrum in which GPS operates from encroachment by other spectrum users. In addition, OSTP assists with agreements between the United States and other nations on the cooperative use of GPS as an international standard.

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

    Remote Sensing
    OSTP assists with implementation of President Clinton's 1994 Landsat Remote Sensing Strategy and the U.S. Policy on Foreign Access to Remote Sensing Space Capabilities. Landsat satellites orbit the Earth and provide images that give us calibrated data on the planet's surface that is useful to a broad user community, including the agricultural community, global change researchers, state and local governments, the military, and commercial users.  The 1994 policy provides for the continuation of the Landsat program, detailing government agency responsibilities for managing and operating the program and issuing guidance for the sale of Landsat data sets. The policy also promotes private-sector commercial opportunities in Landsat-type remote sensing.  OSTP facilitates interactions between government and industry on foreign policy and national security issues, as well as assists business planning related to commercial remote sensing activities.  OSTP also helped to develop the President's 1994 policy on Convergence of U.S. Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite Systems.  This policy initiated the integration of the civil and military polar orbiting weather satellite programs into a single National Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) that is designed to satisfy operational goals while reducing satellite operational and acquisition costs.

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

    Additional Information:
    NASA Landsat link page:
    USGS Landsat-7 home page

    Space Transportation
    In 1994, the President issued the National Space Transportation Policy that outlines the nation's goals and plans for maintaining and modernizing U.S. capabilities to ensure reliable and affordable access to space for the civil, national security, and commercial space sectors. The policy describes each sector's responsibilities for ensuring that the United States maintains strong space transportation capabilities.
    · CIVIL SECTOR: According to the 1994 policy, NASA is responsible for assuring that the Space Shuttle system is safe and reliable.  Another NASA responsibility is to work with the private sector to develop technology and demonstration vehicles for a next-generation reusable launch system.  NASA has partnered with industry to develop the X-33 and X-34 reusable launch vehicle technology demonstration vehicles.  These efforts will help the government and the private sector decide whether to develop a new, operation reusable launch vehicle early in the 21st century. OSTP monitors Space Shuttle safety issues and supports development of reusable launch vehicle demonstration vehicles.
    · NATIONAL SECURITY SECTOR: The 1994 policy assigns the Department of Defense, in cooperation with the U.S. commercial space sector, responsibility for improving efficiency and lowering the cost of expendable launch vehicles.  In October 1998, the Department of Defense awarded contracts to two private launch companies to develop new families of expendable launch vehicles. OSTP supported the Department of Defense's selection and awarding of these contracts.
    · COMMERCIAL SECTOR: The President's 1994 policy reiterates the federal government's long-standing commitment to encouraging a viable commercial U.S. space launch industry.  OSTP supports this industry-friendly policy, which has enabled the U.S. commercial space sector to replace the government as the U.S. space sector with the highest annual launch rate.  In 1998, the United States surpassed all other nations in commercial space launches, capturing 47% of the world market. The U.S. commercial launch rate has doubled since 1996.  OSTP also addresses Administration views on space launch-related legislation proposed by Congress to aid the U.S. private launch industry.

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

    In the spring of 1999, the National Security Council and OSTP formed an Interagency Working Group (IWG) to review the future management and use of the primary U.S. space launch bases and ranges.  This review was undertaken in response to issues raised as a result of the successful growth of U.S. commercial space launch activity since 1994 and the increasing reliance of government agencies on commercially provided launch services.  The Report of the IWG on the Future Management and Use of the U.S. Space Launch Bases and Ranges [needs correct link added--] investigates the roles and responsibilities of federal government agencies and the U.S. commercial space sector.  It also discusses the major policy and management issues resulting from the shift in launch base use from government-dominated to commercial, market-driven activities.   The report also provides development alternatives and management recommendations for the launch ranges over the next ten to twenty years.

    White House Initiates Review on Space Launch Ranges, 3/99

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

    International Space Station
    Once fully assembled, the International Space Station (ISS) will be the 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 accomplishments that can result from global cooperation in the post-Cold War era. Constantly orbiting the Earth, ISS will serve as a world-class laboratory for scientific and technological research in the unique environment of space.  The first two elements of ISS were launched and joined in orbit in November and December of 1998.  Forty-five Space Shuttle and Russian rocket missions will deliver over 100 pieces of hardware to orbit so that the ISS can be completed by the year 2004.  OSTP serves as the White House focal point for ISS policy and program oversight.  OSTP has been working closely with NASA to develop and implement U.S. contingency plans to protect against potential shortfalls in Russia's ability to meet its commitments to the ISS.

    Additional information:
    NASA ISS home page

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

    Additional information:
    White House NSTC Releases Aviation R&D Plan, 12/6/99.
    Goals for A National Partnership in Aeronautics Research and Technology, National Science and Technology Council, 9/11/95

    Office of Science and Technology Policy
    Technology Division
    1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W
    Room 423
    Washington, DC 20502
    202-456.6023 fax
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