FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 16, 1998
Release No. 081-98

CONTACT: Kelly A. Lees
PHONE: (202) 619-4355
E-MAIL: klees@usia.gov



United States InformationAgency- News Release

 

PUBLIC DIPLOMACY IN THE 21ST CENTURY: USIA REACHES WORLDWIDE AUDIENCE THROUGH USIS 2000 COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM

U.S. Information Agency Lauds Success Of State-of-The-Art Pilot Project

Washington, D.C.The United States Information Agency (USIA) today unveiled the results of the Agency’s USIS 2000 pilot project, a six-month examination of a state-of-the-art communications system using a VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) technology to provide a fast, reliable and cost-effective two-way network infrastructure that will support the Agency’s public diplomacy initiatives into the next century. Two-way, high-speed digital communications and an ability to conceptualize and carry out public diplomacy initiatives through a series of global, interactive communications are critical to the accomplishment of USIA’s foreign affairs mission.

"One of our key imperatives is to reinvent the technology base that USIA must have as it enters the 21st century," said USIA Associate Director for Information and CIO Jonathan Spalter. "I believe that it is critical to our nation’s foreign affairs agenda to make a top-level commitment to a digital future and the establishment of a worldwide two-way, high-speed data platform. In the spirit of Vice President Gore’s reinvention mandate, USIS 2000 provides long-term savings through greater functionality, as well as much more efficient and cost effective means for communicating worldwide among ourselves and our customers. In short, USIS 2000 makes government work better and cost less."

 

USIA established the USIS 2000 satellite network as a six-month pilot program from Dec. 1997 through May 1998. The anticipated benefits of the project included expanded functionality; increased reliability; faster deployment; and greater bandwidth which provided significantly improved access to information services including full Internet capability, headquarters financial and administrative system access, database access; telephone circuits for voice and fax communications; and video teleconferencing. The pilot program was conducted at four posts, each representing a different geographic area.

The posts included Warsaw, Poland; Accra, Ghana; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Rabat, Morocco. The impact of the USIS 2000 on the day-to-day operations of the pilot posts far exceeded USIA’s initial expectations. Benefits realized at the four test sites were significant and directly relevant to the mission of the posts. "Working in an international environment without fast and reliable access to these information resources is equivalent to working in an information vacuum. This pilot project seeks to explore how posts can use the vast potential of these information resources to help improve all aspects of Mission activities," said Edward M. Gabriel, U.S. Ambassador to Morocco.

Ghana experienced the benefits almost immediately as it utilized USIS 2000 to support President Clinton’s historic visit last March. "In a part of the world where telephone and electricity service can be erratic, the USIS 2000 VSAT system has been the staff’s communications lifeline to the outside world ... the system was up and running just in time for the President’s visit to Accra on March 23. Not only has it been reliable but it has been fast; both of these factors were critical to the success of the presidential visit ... USIS 2000 has upgraded the post to first world communications efficiency," said Edward Brynn, former U.S. Ambassador to Ghana.

Many working on public diplomacy initiatives in Argentina have already come to depend on the efficiency and effectiveness of USIS 2000. "USIS 2000 is a total hit in Buenos Aires, and it is now up to all of us to make the best possible use of the system’s capabilities to ensure that it does not stay in the "experimental" phase but is instituted as a regular communications system for USIA/USIS and expanded to all posts. We are at the beginning of what can and should be a truly up-to-date system of communications and information retrieval and exchange for the entire foreign service community, and we must work to make it so," a USIS Buenos Aires representative instructed.

USIS 2000 has proven invaluable to USIA’s current mission and more importantly, to the Agency’s future effectiveness as a key international voice for America’s foreign policy and public diplomacy agenda. The pilot project confirmed the benefits -- lower cost, fast deployment, increased reliability, and significantly improved access to information services -- of expanding the USIS 2000 communications system to support all of the components of USIA’s global mission at significant cost reductions.

(See Fact Sheet)

The United States Information Agency, headed by Dr. Joseph Duffey, is an independent foreign affairs agency within the executive branch that explains and supports U.S. foreign policy and national security interests abroad through a wide range of information programs. The Agency promotes mutual understanding between the United States and other countries through a series of educational and cultural exchange activities.

USIA's programs include the Voice of America, Radio and TV Mart­, the WORLDNET satellite television system, the daily Washington File newswire, the Fulbright scholarship program, the International Visitor Program, the Speakers and Specialists Program, three Foreign Press Centers in the United States, and a network of overseas resource and cultural centers. The Agency has 190 posts in 141 countries.

The USIA domestic server can be accessed through http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/usia/ or through most search engines on the Internet.

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The USIA domestic server can be accessed through http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/usia/ or through most search engines on the Internet.

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