|The Progress & Freedom Foundation engages in research and education on a wide variety of topics relating to technology policy, telecommunications and the Internet. For 10 years, its work has focused largely on issues before the Federal government. However, PFF has also conducted substantial activities at the state level, including work on issues such as the regulation and taxation of telecommunications services, the growth of government-owned telecommunications providers, and a variety of e-commerce and e-government issues such as on-line privacy.
State governments increasingly are becoming involved in issues affecting communications and the Internet, especially with regard to implementation of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the regulation and taxation of electronic commerce, rules governing on-line privacy, and implementation of their own e-government initiatives. In response to this growing level of state activity, the Foundation established the Digital Policy Network in late 2001 to serve policy centers across America that seek to understand the implications of the digital revolution for the policies and practices of state and local governments.
The Digital Policy Network is an ongoing program of activities designed to bring the Foundation’s market-oriented analysis to bear in the deliberations of state legislatures, public utility commissions and executive branch agencies.
Through the Digital Policy Network, the Foundation works closely with market-oriented think tanks (e.g. Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Foundation, the Washington Policy Center and the Pacific Research Institute) to publish papers, hold seminars, place op-ed articles and otherwise become involved in a timely way in policy debates underway in the states. The current focus is on four areas of activity:
- Telecommunications regulation and taxation, including debates over proposals for network sharing and regulated prices for network elements, enforcement of interconnection and resale provisions, regulation of the wireless marketplace and long distance entry by local telephone companies and taxation of telecommunications services and equipment.
- Restructuring of the energy market through federal and state rulemakings that affect transmission, generation, market design and future investment. Current research and education activities are focused on the federal standard market design proposals and their affects on regional markets and state policy.
- Government participation in the provision of telecommunications and other services, including the growing phenomenon of municipal utilities and other government entities engaging in the direct provision of telecommunications services in competition with the private sector.
- Privacy and e-government issues, including state policies regarding management of their own government records as well as proposals to regulate privacy practices by the private sector.
In each of these areas, the Foundation has conducted extensive research and has a body of substantive materials well suited for dissemination to state policymakers. The Digital Policy Network provides the Foundation with the capability to bring this research to bear in an effective and timely fashion.
To maximize its impact while minimizing cost, the Digital Policy Network functions as a loose confederation of state policy organizations. PFF will focus on collaborating with state think tanks and bringing our mutual expertise to bear on digital policy.
Kent Lassman is a PFF research fellow and the full-time director of the Digital Policy Network. Lassman works with policy leaders around the country and partners with state-based institutions to build alliances and to implement the specific programs of the Digital Policy Network.
The Digital Policy Network is an evolutionary step in the outlook and capabilities of the Foundation. Through research and other educational activities, PFF develops policy solutions to make markets work in the digital era, at all levels of government.