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February 7, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:43pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Following the State of the Nation speech in which he set out his administration’s goal of increasing computer literacy across the US, President Bill Clinton has put his money where his mouth is and added a 9% increase to federal spending on computing and communications research and development for the next year. The increase will bring total spending for 1997 to $1.6bn. In addition, the administration is seeking to boost research and development spend with two proposed research and development related tax breaks. The first is a one-year extension of the Research and Experimentation tax credit and the second an extension of the Foreign Sales Corporation tax credit to computer software companies. However, the administration’s overall spending on research and development is predicted to rise just 2% in fiscal 1998 to $75.5bn, below the pace of inflation. Spending on defense-related research and development will rise just 1% under the President’s plan to $40.5bn, but it will still account for the majority of total research and development spending. Under the proposal specific initiatives are earmarked for further federal investment. According to the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, the budget request includes $100m earmarked for the Next Generation Internet initiative – including building a new fiber optic backbone connecting 100 universities and government labs – $205m for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI) which is replacing real nuclear weapons testing with supercomputer-based modeling; $525m for research and development in educational technology; and $36m for National Information Infrastructure (NII) grants. The NII will showcase innovative uses of the Internet in communities across the country. Within the science and research budget there are other areas where the computer industry looks set to benefit. For example the $275m assigned for an Advanced Technology Program which aims to bring new technologies to market; the $250m Intelligent Transportation Infrastructure, which will use computers and communications to improve speed, safety and capacity on the highways; and the $1.88bn global climate change research program. However, the administration’s program to connect schools, libraries and clinics to the Internet will not be funded through budget sources but through telecommunications companies’ contributions to the Universal Service Fund. The White House said it estimates the program will cost $2.5bn. The fiscal 1998 year begins October 1.

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