Dr. Neal Lane


All Hands Meeting

Good afternoon and a very happy new year to all of you. To appreciate what a pleasure it is to see all of you here today, I need only to think back one year-almost to the day.

We'd been buried by blizzards, blind-sided by the furlough and the government shutdown, and left dangling with no budget until mid-March. It was not our nation's finest hour, to say the least.

What a difference a year makes. While I won't make any predictions about the winter weather, I don't foresee any man-made snow-jobs coming our way.

From my perspective, it is therefore more than fair to say that 1997 is off to a very good start for NSF. And the news just gets better and better!

Today's meeting will be a short one because we want to focus it on congratulations and celebration of a very important recognition of NSF achievement.

In early December, I had the pleasure of accepting the National Information Infrastructure Award on behalf of NSF for the FastLane Project. The NII award is a national award that recognizes excellence and innovation in the use of the Internet.

This year there were over 850 applicants for the ten awards given. NSF was honored by winning the award for best in Government- and we were the first Federal government agency ever to receive an NII award.

If it's true that one is judged by company you keep, then NSF is doing very well by this NII award. The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition won in the business category. And, in the education category, the Jason Project's Undersea Internet site, led by the renowned oceanographer Bob Ballard-and which NSF helped to fund-took top honors.

As you are aware, NSF spent many years funding the research and development needed to bring the Internet and World Wide Web to where they are today. The Netscape browser in fact traces its roots to our supercomputer center at the University of Illinois. It therefore creates a wonderful kind of symmetry to see these new tools and technologies being used so productively to improve the way NSF goes about its business.

FastLane began as an experimental program that tested new technologies in new ways. One of the goals of the project was to improve and streamline all of our interactions with the research and educational communities. The response has been very positive. I confess that I came to the Foundation with the view that NSF ought to take the lead in government in doing more of its business electronically, and I have strongly supported this effort from the outset.

While there have been some growing pains-that's to be expected -FastLane is already generating real improvements in the productivity and efficiency of our day-to-day operations.

I know that many of you have participated in the design and implementation of FastLane, and you are the ones who deserve the real credit for this award. I wish I could recognize all of you individually, because you all deserve our thanks and appreciation -all of you except whoever it was that chose the name. Just kidding-I just have to keep reminding people it is not named for me.

I nevertheless do want to recognize the key groups that have made FastLane such a success. The project provides great testimony to value of teams.

I know there are countless others who with all of these key teams devoted many hours to discussing, reviewing, and testing the various features of FastLane. We are now beginning to see payoff from these efforts-and my hat's off to all of you.

It is also extremely gratifying that the NII award is just one of a number of special commendations NSF has received in recent months. It's clear to me that others are noticing the great people and the great work we do here at the Foundation.

NSF has also been selected to receive the Vice President's Hammer Award-which is awarded to recognize dramatic improvements in the way government works. We were recognized for our contribution to the Blue Pages project, which has led to major revisions to the way NSF services are described in telephone directories across the country. We have already begun to see the results of this effort! I am told that the number of callers who think they have reached the other NSF-the National Sanitation Foundation-have declined dramatically!

I also want to note another honor the FastLane project has received-the Federal Office System Exposition's Webbie Award, which is awarded for best use of the Internet in electronic commerce.

This is no small feat. By one estimate, a total of roughly $3 billion in transactions were conducted over the Internet last year. NSF alone accounted for about one third of that amount! That may be hard to believe, but it's just one of many indicators that tells us are leading the push to make these new technologies work for our society.

What all of this says to me is that NSF continues to set standards for leadership and productivity that are unmatched in any organization anywhere. All of these honors are richly deserved. Let me also mention as a reminder that the people who played a role in making these awards possible can be identified by the name tags they are wearing. You've probably figured this out already, and I encourage all of you to extend your congratulations to them, personally.

In closing, I want to stress that these awards do much more than just recognize a few individuals or groups here at NSF. They reflect positively on everyone here at the Foundation, and they make clear that the entire Foundation is a winning team.

We have much to be proud of here at NSF. The year is off to a great start, and I thank each of you for the work you do every day to make the Foundation such an outstanding organization. Let's once again show our appreciation for all the hard work that made possible all of these honors as well as our continuing success as an agency.

My congratulations and my thanks go out to each and every one of you.