Feds have vested interest in Net

CONGRESSIONAL RESISTANCE TO FULLY FUNDING THE NEXT GENERATION INTERNET REFLECTS WIDESPREAD CONCERN ABOUT MAKING WISE USE OF GOVERNMENT DOLLARS. BASED ON THE FISCAL 1998 BUDGET PROCESS CONGRESS BELIEVES THE DEVELOPMENT OF A MORE ADVANCED INTERNET INFRASTRUCTURE SHOULD BE LEFT TO THE PRIVATE SECTOR WHERE SO MANY ADVANCES ARE NOW BEING MADE.

WHILE PRUDENT THIS CONCERN DOES NOT ACCURATELY REFLECT THE ADMINISTRATION'S INITIATIVE. AS THE ADMINISTRATION PROPOSED LAST FALL THE GOVERNMENT WOULD INVEST $100 MILLION A YEAR DURING THE NEXT THREE YEARS TO FUND THE DEVELOPMENT OF KEY NETWORKING AND SOFTWARE TECHNOLOGIES WITH FIVE AGENCIES - LED BY THE DEFENSE AND ENERGY DEPARTMENTS - CONDUCTING THE RESEARCH.

SUCH LEADERSHIP IS NECESSARY NOT BECAUSE OF A LACK OF COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITY BUT BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT HAS A STAKE IN THE INTERNET THAT IT NEEDS TO PROTECT.

MUCH OF THIS ADMINISTRATION'S PUBLIC POLICY IS BASED ON THE AVAILABILITY OF A ROBUST INTERNET INFRASTRUCTURE. THE INTERNET IS THE FOUNDATION FOR THE NEXT LEAP IN EDUCATION WITH A PROPOSAL TO BRING SCHOOLS ONLINE NATIONWIDE. THE INTERNET IS THE PRIMARY VEHICLE FOR MAKING "SERVICE TO THE CITIZEN" A REALITY.

ALSO THE INTERNET ORIGINALLY SPRANG FROM THE GOVERNMENT'S RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY AND IT STILL SERVES AS THE PRIMARY LINK FOR SCIENTISTS CONDUCTING VITAL RESEARCH AT NATIONAL LABORATORIES AND UNIVERSITIES.

THE PROBLEM IS THAT CONGRESS APPARENTLY DOES NOT HAVE FAITH IN THE ADMINISTRATION'S ABILITY TO LEAD THE INITIATIVE. SOMEONE SHOULD STEP UP AND DO A CONVINCING JOB OF ARGUING THE ADMINISTRATION'S CASE. THE GOVERNMENT MUST TAKE A LEADERSHIP ROLE WHETHER MONETARY OR NOT.

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