Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog

  • Celebrating World Telecommunication and Information Society Day

    We, the representatives of the peoples of the world, . . . declare our common desire and commitment to build a people-centered, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life, premised on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and respecting fully and upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    -Declaration of Principles, United Nations World Summit on the Information Society

    Yesterday, May 17, was World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD), which recognizes the power of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve society by expanding access to information and knowledge. This is key to our mission in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, where we work every day to leverage technology to share information and meet the needs of the public. The global community’s dedication to building a worldwide Information Society only continues to grow, based in large part on the Declaration of Principles and Tunis Commitment from the 2003-2005 United Nations World Summit on the Information Society, both of which were negotiated and supported by the United States. 

    The U.S. has a proud history of supporting the growth and adoption of ICTs: a history that dates back centuries, to the establishment of the Nation itself. The Founding Fathers, when drafting the U.S. Constitution and the country’s early laws, faced significant information policy and access challenges. They had helped to establish a new democracy—with a government of the people, by the people, and for the people—in a country in which people were widely dispersed, and often undereducated. As a result, our Nation’s first leaders worked to create mechanisms for communicating and disseminating information in order to promote trade and economic development, and to help individuals obtain the information and skills necessary to participate meaningfully in their own governance. As President and “Father of the Constitution” James Madison once said, “A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce, or a tragedy, or both.”

  • Driving Innovation in STEM Education

    As part of his recent visit to Lake Area Technical College, the President announced the Department of Education’s new $60 million First in the World (FITW) grant competition to drive innovation in higher education. A key element in the competition is a priority for improving teaching and learning in college. One of the innovative teaching strategies included was encouraging schools to move beyond the traditional lecture format of instruction with more active learning approaches. This is an important step forward in meeting the President’s goal to prepare 1 million college STEM graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

  • Launching the Police Data Initiative

    Today, the President is in Camden to talk about the promising progress that city is making in enhancing community policing. Last December, President Obama launched the Task Force on 21st Century Policing to better understand specific policing challenges and help communities identify actions they can take to improve law enforcement and enhance community engagement. Since that time, we have seen law enforcement agencies around the country working harder than ever to make the promise of community policing real.

    Many of the Task Force’s recommendations emphasize the opportunity for departments to better use data and technology to build community trust. As a response, the White House has launched the Police Data Initiative, which has mobilized 21 leading jurisdictions across the country to take fast action on concrete deliverables responding to these Task Force recommendations in the area of data and technology. Camden is one such jurisdiction. 

    By finding innovative work already underway in these diverse communities and bringing their leaders together with top technologists, researchers, data scientists and design experts, the Police Data Initiative is helping accelerate progress around data transparency and analysis, toward the goal of increased trust and impact. Through the Initiative, key stakeholders are establishing a community of practice that will allow for knowledge sharing, community-sourced problem solving, and the establishment of documented best practices that can serve as examples for police departments nationwide.

  • Hello, World

    Though it wasn’t true for President Obama when he became the first president to write a line of code back in December, it’s traditional for the first program a new coder writes to be one that prints out the message “Hello, world.”  From there, the next step for most people is to change the program to say something else, like “Hello, Ed,” and from there to something else.   Coding is exciting: you can decide what is supposed to happen, and the computer will do it…the only limit is your skill and imagination!  I have been coding for almost forty years, and I still can’t get over how cool it is that simple ideas, if combined cleverly, can lead to so many powerful applications.

  • Kids Serve, Too

    As we honor our service members and veterans during Military Appreciation Month this May, it’s important to remember that kids serve, too.

    It’s often not easy being the child of a military family, particularly when it comes to one’s education. Children of our nation’s service members attend six to nine different school systems on average, moving about every two years before they graduate from high school. Those transitions can make it hard to stay on track toward the goal of higher education. That is why Joining Forces, led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, with support from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), is celebrating the work of organizations like the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), which is expanding support to military-connected students.

  • It Is Rocket Science! NASA Releases Abundance of Free Code

    This week, NASA released its second annual Software Catalog, a giant compendium of over 1,000 programs available for free to industry, government agencies, and the general public. The Software Catalog contains the actual advanced engineering and aeronautics codes NASA engineers purpose-built for their daily work.

    The Software Catalog stemmed from the October 28, 2011 Presidential Memorandum on accelerating the commercialization of Federal research in support of high-growth businesses, in which the President challenged all Federal agencies to find new ways to increase the efficiency and economic impact of their technology transfer activities.

    In response to this call to action, NASA developed a five-year plan for accelerating technology transfer with several high-level objectives, one of which was to locate, collect, and make accessible all of the agency’s software. The result was the Software Catalog, a comprehensive offering of all of NASA’s releasable software, including programs designated as open-source, codes-restricted, and government-use. The first edition of the Software Catalog, published in May 2014, has been downloaded over 100,000 times, and the Software Catalog website ( has received millions of visitors. With the release of the second edition of the Software Catalog, NASA remains the first and only agency to offer this comprehensive a collection of free software tools, and serves as an example for others to follow.