President Obama recognizes that technology is an essential ingredient of economic growth and job creation.
We have to do everything we can to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit, wherever we find it. We should be helping American companies compete and sell their products all over the world. We should be making it easier and faster to turn new ideas into new jobs and new businesses. And we should knock down any barriers that stand in the way. Because if we’re going to create jobs now and in the future, we're going to have to out-build and out-educate and out-innovate every other country on Earth.President Barack Obama, September 16, 2011
President Obama recognizes that technology is an essential ingredient of economic growth and job creation. Ensuring America has 21st century digital infrastructure—such as high-speed broadband Internet access, fourth-generation (4G) wireless networks, new health care information technology and a modernized electrical grid—is critical to our long-term prosperity and competitiveness.
The President is committed to ensuring America has a thriving and growing Internet economy. The Internet has become a global platform for communication, commerce and individual expression, and now promises to support breakthroughs in important national priorities such as health care, education and energy. Additionally, the Internet and information technology can be applied to make government more effective, transparent and accessible to all Americans.
Examples of Progress
- Cybersecurity and Internet Policy
- A Modernized Patent System
- Bringing Technology from "Lab to Market"
- 21st Century Digital Infrastructure
- Creating an Open and Accountable Government
- Learning Technologies
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Federal Chief Information Officers
- Open Data Initiatives
- Presidential Innovation Fellows
- First U.S. Chief Technology Officer
- TechHire Initiative
Cybersecurity and Internet Policy
President Obama has pledged to preserve the free and open nature of the Internet to encourage innovation, protect consumer choice, and defend free speech. The Administration has created an Internet Policy Task Force to bring together industry, consumer groups, and policy experts to identify ways of ensuring that the Internet remains a reliable and trustworthy resource for consumers and businesses.
In July 2011, at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Obama Administration joined with representatives from business, civil society, and Internet technical communities from 34 countries to reaffirm the importance of Internet policy principles that have enabled the open Internet to flourish with innovation and human connections beyond our wildest expectations.
Americans deserve an Internet that is safe and secure, so they can shop, bank, communicate, and learn online without fear their accounts will be hacked or their identity stolen. President Obama has declared that the “cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation” and that “America's economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity.” To help the country meet this challenge and to ensure the Internet can continue as an engine of growth and prosperity, the Administration is implementing the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. The Administration also released the International Strategy for Cyberspace to promote the free flow of information, the security and privacy of data, and the integrity of the interconnected networks, which are all essential to American and global economic prosperity and security.
President Obama has responded to Congress’ call for input on the cybersecurity legislation that our Nation needs, and the Administration will continue to engage with Congress as it moves forward.
The Obama Administration has also prioritized the cybersecurity of federal departments and agencies. In addition, the Administration has matured the government’s implementation of the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) away from a static, paper-based process to a dynamic, relevant process based upon continuous monitoring and risk assessment.
A Modernized Patent System
President Obama signed the America Invents Act into law on September 16, 2011 after nearly a decade of effort to reform the Nation’s outdated patent laws. The patent reform law helps companies and inventors avoid costly delays and unnecessary litigation—letting them focus instead on innovation and job creation. Many key industries in which the United States leads, such as biotechnology, medical devices, telecommunications, the Internet, and advanced manufacturing, depend on a strong and healthy intellectual property system.
The law has a number of transformative initiatives that build on reforms already underway under the leadership of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director David Kappos. The law gives the USPTO the resources to reduce patent application waiting times significantly, and builds on the great strides the patent office has already made, reducing its backlog by 15% during this Administration even as the number of filings per year has increased. The USPTO has also launched an accelerated examination program, known as Track One, that allows patent applications to be processed to completion in 12 months and offers small businesses a 50 percent discount on this option.
Under Track One, the USPTO has offered 3,502 companies, and over 1,278 small businesses the opportunity to move their technologies to the marketplace faster—accelerating the creation of new jobs and new industries. In the only 7 months since the program has started, we've issued a total of 101 completed patents through the program, with applicants waiting only about an average 117.3 days to receive a complete decision on their application. The program builds on the Green Technology Pilot program that accelerated 3,500 patent applications involving reduced greenhouse gas emissions and energy conservation — at no cost to the inventor. USPTO has also recently launched the Patents for Humanity pilot program, which creates business incentives for patent holders to engage in humanitarian issues.
Excessive litigation has also long plagued the patent system. The America Invents Act offers entrepreneurs new ways to avoid litigation regarding patent validity, without the expense of going to U.S. District Court, and will also give the USPTO new tools and resources to improve patent quality. In addition to these new tools, the USPTO is also hiring 100 new judges to adjudicate cases in front of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, helping to decrease the backlog of patent appeals cases, and reduce wait times for appellants. The new law also will harmonize the American patent process with the rest of the world to make it more efficient and predictable, and make it easier for entrepreneurs to market products simultaneously in the United States and for exporting abroad.
Bringing Technology from “Lab to Market”
Leading up to the President’s signing of the America Invents Act, the Administration worked with Federal agencies and private-sector partners to launch a series of new “Lab to Market” initiatives. The initiatives are aimed at helping to achieve the President’s goal of strengthening “commercialization of the nearly $148 billion in annual federally-funded research and development”, as first proposed in January 2011 at the launch of the White House-led Startup America campaign. These efforts encouraged Federal agencies to streamline their technology-transfer procedures, support additional government-industry collaboration, and encourage the commercialization of novel technologies flowing from our Federal laboratories.
21st Century Digital Infrastructure
Wireless Infrastructure: President Obama has committed to making high-speed wireless services available to at least 98 percent of Americans. The availability of new wireless broadband services will allow more Americans to use the Internet to learn, work and play—regardless of where they live. At the direction of the President, Federal agencies will make more airwaves available (in scientific terms, some 500 Mhz of spectrum) for enhanced smartphones and other wireless services within 10 years. The President also proposed and signed into law a plan for the design and deployment of a nationwide wireless public safety network so that our first responders can share data and work together seamlessly across jurisdictions in response to natural or man-made emergencies. And through the auctioning of airwave space to companies that will develop the next generation of wireless services, funding will be available to support advances in security, reliability, and other critical features by investing in research and development in wireless technology, while also delivering an estimated $10 billion for deficit reduction.
Broadband: High-speed internet infrastructure is key to a 21st century information economy. Through $7 billion in targeted investments from the Recovery Act, the Administration has expanded broadband access nationwide, improved high-speed connectivity in rural areas and public computer centers, and increased Internet capacity in schools, libraries, public safety offices, and other community buildings.
A Smarter Power Grid: A 21st century electric system is essential to America's ability to lead the world and create jobs in the clean-energy economy of the future. As part of the Recovery Act, this Administration invested $4.5 billion in electricity delivery and energy reliability modernization, with total public-private investment amounting to over $10 billion To ensure that all Americans benefit from these smart grid investments, the Administration released a policy framework and a series of new initiatives in June 2011 that will empower consumers with tools to better manage their electricity and cut costs, improve the reliability of the electric grid, and help utilities recover from natural disasters faster. A first generation of innovative consumer products and services—such as thermostats that can be controlled from a smart phone, or websites that show how much energy a house is using—are already helping Americans save money on their electricity bills.
Creating an Open and Accountable Government
Government is more accountable when it is transparent. That’s why President Obama signed the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government on his first full day in office, ushering in a new era of open and accountable government to bridge the gap between the American people and their government. The Administration has taken unprecedented steps to make government more efficient and effective, including the following actions:
- Launched in May 2009, Data.gov has increased access to information that the public can readily find and use. The purpose of Data.gov and Data.gov communities is to increase public access to data and information generated by departments and agencies in the Federal government. For example, you can find monthly data on U.S. oil refinery utilization and capacity back to 1985 or value of mineral production by state. With more than 385,000 such datasets currently online, and more coming all the time, the Administration is continuing to create a more participatory government by expanding access and encouraging creative ways for data to be used.
- Through the U.S.-India Open Government Dialogue, the two countries have partnered to release “Data.gov-in-a-Box,” an open source version of the United States’ “Data.gov” data portal and India’s “India.gov.in” document portal. It will be available for implementation by countries globally, encouraging governments around the world to stand up open data sites that promote transparency, improve citizen engagement, and engage application developers in continuously improving these efforts.
- The Administration has increased tracking of how government uses Federal dollars with easy-to-understand websites like Recovery.gov, USASpending.gov, and the IT Dashboard.
- The Administration is spurring innovation by using challenges and prizes to motivate greater citizen participation in the quest to meet national challenges. In September 2010, the Administration launched Challenge.gov, a one-stop shop where entrepreneurs and citizen solvers can find public-sector prizes. Prizes are a great way to inspire a wide range of potential problem solvers to take aim at problems through innovation. Unlike the case with many conventional grants, the method for achieving success is not narrowly defined and the government pays only for results. For example, the Department of Defense sponsored a challenge aimed at stopping uncooperative fleeing vehicles without causing permanent damage to the vehicle or its occupants, and got a winning solution from someone who might otherwise never have appeared on that department’s grant-making radar.
- In June 2011 President Obama issued an executive order to cut waste, streamline Government operations, and reinforce the performance and management reform gains the Obama Administration has achieved.
- In July 2011 the Obama Administration announced the launch of the Government Accountability and Transparency Board. The Board, first announced by the President and Vice President in June as part of the Campaign to Cut Waste, will focus on rooting out misspent tax dollars and making government spending more accessible and transparent for the American people.
- The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Task Force on Smart Disclosure is working to promote better disclosure policies and aid in the timely release of complex information in standardized, machine-readable formats that enable consumers to make informed decisions in numerous domains.
- The White House launched We the People, a new platform that gives all Americans a way to create and sign petitions on a range of issues affecting our nation. And if a petition gathers enough online signatures, it will be reviewed by policy experts and you’ll receive an official response.
- In September 2011, President Obama and President Rousseff of Brazil hosted the formal launch of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) at an event with Heads of State and senior officials from 46 countries. This meeting focused attention on the shared challenge of improving governance, and demonstrated a strong political commitment around the world to the kinds of reforms necessary to enhance transparency, fight corruption, and strengthen mechanisms of democratic accountability.
Technology can be a powerful tool when it comes to teaching and learning. To help realize its potential, in September 2011 the Department of Education and private foundations launched Digital Promise, a new national center for advancing learning technologies. Digital Promise will harness the efforts of everyone from educators to entrepreneurs to spur the research, development, and adoption of breakthrough technologies that can help transform the way teachers teach and students learn. Learn more here.
In June, 2011, President Obama launched the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), a national effort that brings together industry, universities, and the Federal government to invest in the emerging technologies that will create high-quality manufacturing jobs and enhance our global competitiveness. To launch the AMP, the President announced $300 million of government-wide investment in domestic manufacturing capabilities, $100 million in research and training investments to develop and deploy advanced materials, $70 million in robotics research and development, and $120 million of investment in innovative energy-efficient manufacturing processes.
The AMP is based on a recommendation of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) in its report “Ensuring Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing.” The AMP is led by Andrew Liveris, Chairman, President, and CEO of Dow Chemical, and Susan Hockfield, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
For more information: President Obama Launches Advanced Manufacturing Partnership
On August 16, 2012 in Youngstown, OH, National Economic Advisor Sperling, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank and Under Secretary of Defense Frank Kendall announced the establishment of an additive manufacturing pilot institute by a consortium that includes more than 40 firms, five research universities, and seven community colleges, led by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining. The pilot institute, which the President announced in his speech at Petersburg, VA on March 9, 2012, will serve as a proof of concept for the proposed National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, currently under Congressional consideration. Up to fifteen Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation are proposed for development in the network. These institutes will serve as regional hubs of manufacturing excellence that will help make U.S. manufacturers more competitive and encourage investment in the United States.
This initiative focuses on developing robots that work with or beside people to extend or augment human capabilities, taking advantage of the different strengths of humans and robots. In addition to investing in the core technology needed for next-generation robotics, the initiative will support applications such as robots that can:
- Increase the productivity of workers in the manufacturing sector;
- Assist astronauts in dangerous and expensive missions;
- Help scientists accelerate the discovery of new, life-saving drugs; and
- Improve food safety by rapidly sensing microbial contamination.
As part of this initiative, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, NASA, and the Department of Agriculture are funding $70 million of research for next-generation robotics.
For more information: Developing the Next Generation of Robots
Federal Chief Information Officers
In this 21st century Information Age, virtually all big businesses find it essential to have a Chief Information Officer (CIO)—someone who specializes in making sure that information is flowing smoothly within the business’s various components and also between the business and its customers and suppliers. Early in his Administration, President Obama made the important recognition that government, too, could benefit from having a CIO, and he appointed the first in the Federal government’s history. (A number of departments and agencies have since appointed CIOs as well.) One of the bigger responsibilities for the Federal CIO has been to find new efficiencies relating to the many information technology projects going on in the government—projects that stand to save taxpayers dollars and make government services more efficient, but which need to be coordinated with one another to achieve these goals.
Toward that end, on December 2010, the Administration released a 25-Point Implementation Plan to reform the way the Federal government manages information technology projects. Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew followed up on that Plan in August by issuing a CIO Authorities Memo, which spells out in detail how the CIOs in various departments and agencies should go beyond mere management of information technology projects and focus in addition on making sure they get the highest return on investments in information technology; being transparent and accountable for the status of projects on Federal websites such as the IT Dashboard; and ensuring the security of electronic information.
Part of being efficient involves shutting down projects that are no longer performing, and one responsibility of the Federal CIO and his office has been to use so-called TechStat sessions to look into such projects and figure out how to either fix them or terminate them. The Administration has said it intends to terminate or turn around at least one-third of all underperforming information technology projects by June 2012. The Federal CIO is also working to consolidate Federal data centers and move more and more information from individual computers and physical data centers to “the digital cloud”— part of a cloud-first strategy that promises big gains in efficiency. Finally, CIOs must ensure we are continuously improving our efforts to safeguard Federal data through cybersecurity.
The Federal Chief Information Officer, Steven VanRoekel, highlighted the ways in which he envisions his office fulfilling these goals and is using technology.performance.gov to share our progress effectively managing large-scale IT projects, achieving operational efficiencies, and improving cybersecurity with the American people.
For more information on the Obama Administration’s technology priorities, check out the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy website.
Open Data Initiatives
Under the leadership of the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, the Administration is pursuing initiatives that seek to “liberate” government data and voluntarily-contributed corporate data as fuel to spur entrepreneurship, create value, and create jobs. As a model, decades ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began making weather data available for free electronic download by anyone. Entrepreneurs utilized these data to create weather newscasts, websites, mobile applications, insurance, and much more—generating billions of dollars in annual economic value. Similarly, the government’s decision to make the Global Positioning System (GPS) freely available has fueled a vast array of private-sector innovations ranging from navigation systems to precision crop farming, creating huge public benefit and tens of billions of dollars of economic value annually.
We believe there is enormous potential to replicate and expand upon these successes in targeted areas of high impact. Think of vast reservoirs of data, sitting in the vaults of government and industry, as a still largely underutilized national resource that can be injected into the economy—fueling a rising tide of entrepreneurial innovation that can improve Americans’ lives in many tangible ways, advance key national priorities in sectors ranging from health to energy to education and more, and contribute significantly to economic growth and job creation.
Building upon what we have learned in executing the highly successful Health Data Initiative over the last two years, we have now launched similar open-data initiatives in the energy, education, and public safety sectors, with additional initiatives in the works.
Presidential Innovation Fellows
In August 2012, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and U.S. Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel launched the first class of Presidential Innovation Fellows. Selected from a nationwide applicant pool of nearly 700 innovators, the 18 Fellows have agreed to spend six months in Washington to work on five high-impact projects aimed at supporting entrepreneurs, small businesses and the economy, while significantly improving how the Federal Government serves the American people.
The five projects were selected because they are tough but tractable challenges whose solutions could provide immediate benefits and cost-savings to American citizens, entrepreneurs and businesses:
- The Open Data Initiatives – inspired by the massive private sector innovation catalyzed by the release of government weather and GPS data – will accelerate and expand Administration efforts to make government data more publicly accessible in “computer-readable” form and spur the use of those data by entrepreneurs as fuel for the creation of new products, services, and jobs.
- RFP-EZ aims to develop an online marketplace that will make it easier for the government to do business with small high-growth tech companies, and enabling the government to buy better, lower-cost tech solutions from the full range of American businesses.
- MyGov will create a prototype of a streamlined online system enabling citizens to easily access the information and services from across the Federal Government.
- The 20% Initiative will work to transition “the last mile” of international development assistance payments from cash to electronic methods – lowering administrative costs, promoting financial inclusion, and reducing theft, fraud, and violence.
- Blue Button for America will spread the ability for millions of Americans to easily and securely download their own health information electronically, all while fueling the emergence of time and money saving products and businesses.
The first class of 18 Presidential Innovation Fellows were chosen on the basis of individuals’ skill sets and their relevance to the chosen challenges. In addition to the Fellows, the broader public is invited to sign up to follow and contribute to the success of these projects. The Presidential Innovation Fellows program’s focus is collaborative problem solving by cross-sector teams of innovators who can rapidly prototype and test solutions in an iterative way until success is achieved.
U.S. Chief Technology Officer
President Obama created the position of U.S. Chief Technology Officer on his first day in office, noting that corporate leaders have long recognized the value of having a person responsible for ensuring that technology is being used as effectively as possible to advance key objectives. The U.S. CTO is responsible for ensuring and advancing the use of innovative technological approaches to support Administration priorities, including job creation, broader access to affordable health care, enhanced energy efficiency, a more open government, and national and homeland security.
Current U.S. CTO Megan Smith is leading an array of efforts, including the Open Data Initiatives and Presidential Innovation Fellows programs, that aim to help modernize a Federal government relying too heavily on 20th century technology, and better leverage the power of technology and data to help address a wide range of national challenges. These initiatives employ an agile, “lean startup”-style approach to effecting change in government, and embrace the idea of collaboration with innovators across the public, private, nonprofit, and academic sectors to deliver the best possible results for the American people.
The President and his Administration are focused on promoting middle class economics to ensure that all Americans can contribute to and benefit from our American resurgence. Part of that effort requires empowering every American with the education and training they need to earn higher wages. In March 2015, President Obama announced his TechHire initiative, a new campaign to work with communities to get more Americans rapidly trained for well-paying technology jobs.
TechHire is a bold multi-sector initiative and call to action to empower Americans with the skills they need, through universities and community colleges but also nontraditional approaches like “coding boot camps,” and high-quality online courses that can rapidly train workers for a well-paying job, often in just a few months. Employers across the United States are in critical need of talent with these skills. Many of these roles do not require a four-year computer science degree. To give Americans the opportunity they deserve, and the skills they need to be competitive in a global economy, we are highlighting TechHire partnerships.