00-529 Warsaw 53, Poland 
Wspólna St. 1/3
God³o RP

State Committee
for Scientific Research
Ministry of Posts
and Telecommunications

Aims and directions
of the information society development
in Poland


Warsaw, 28th November 2000


Introduction *
Universal access to information *
Information technology education *
Changes in employment structure *
Law and offences in information and communication technology field *
Electronic document and commerce *
Public procurement *
Information technology implementation in administration *
Information and communication technology market development *
Science and culture *

The present document has been prepared on the basis of seven experts’ reports jointly entitled "The Global Information Society in the Context of Poland's Accession to the EU", divided into the following sections:

  • Theme 1.: technical infrastructure;
  • Theme 2.: telecommunication and ICT services;
  • Theme 3.: present state and prospects for new ICT applications;
  • Theme 4.: implementation aspects;
  • Theme 5.: research areas;
  • Theme 6.: Polish IT staff;
  • Theme 7.: information technology education.

  • The experts' reports were commissioned by the State Committee for Scientific Research. Themes 1 and 2 were developed under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Sci. Eng. Janusz Filipiak of the University of Mining and Metallurgy in Cracow; themes 3, 5, 6, 7 were prepared by a team supervised by Prof. Dr. Sci Jan Goliñski of Warsaw School of Economics, and theme 4 was developed by a team supervised by Prof. Dr. Sci. Lech W. Zacher of the Leon KoŸmiñski Academy of Entrepreneurship and Management in Warsaw.


    At the beginning of the 1980s, in line with the progressing world-wide convergence of telecommunications technology, information technology (IT) and mass-media technology (cf. the chapter "Information and communication technology market development"), the era of the industrial civilisation started giving way to the post-industrial information civilisation, the main element of which is the global information society. This concept is often treated as synonymous merely with the growth of information and communication technology (ICT). However, it has in fact a much broader meaning, for what becomes decisive for the development of the information society is the fact that "information becomes a prime production resource (next to raw materials, capital and labour) and the use of the information technology in this process is merely a matter of instrumentation". This is precisely the difference between the global information society, interpreted in civilisational and humanistic terms and promoted in the European Union, and the global information technology infrastructure, which is promoted in the United States. These differences notwithstanding, the foundations for the growth of the information society are undoubtedly constituted by the knowledge-based economy, and "knowledge resources, i.e. information and way of using it, become the crucial economic resource, which is accumulated both in databases and in the intellectual potential of the society".

    The progressing emergence of the information civilisation is inevitable on the global scale and to downplay it would be short-sighted. Current trends in the world economy demonstrate that "general access to information constitutes a precondition of economic development". It is one of the obligations of the state, enshrined in the Constitution, to ensure such access. The state may fulfil these duties in two different ways. Firstly, it may assume a role of a passive observer, leaving the social changes to the natural course of events, based on the assumption that inevitable, global changes must sooner or later occur in Poland as well. Alternatively, it may assume an active role by setting relevant priorities of development and taking actions aimed at accelerating those changes. "The first countries to enter the information society will gain the greatest benefits. They will be the countries which will define the shape of things for all those who will follow their steps. By contrast, countries which defer decisions or prefer partial solutions may experience a catastrophic drop in investment and employment in the coming decade". "Our response to the challenges which result for the social and economic changes related to the advent of the information civilisation will be decisive for Poland's position in the coming decades. Failure to participate actively in these processes would be tantamount to perpetuating the existing civilisational distance and to relegating our country to a marginal position in the world".

    The effect of the application of ICT on the growth of labour efficiency and other macroeconomic factors has not been fully examined yet. This is mainly due to the fact that it is difficult to isolate the changes brought about by the application of specific technologies from the whole economic and social changes, on which these technologies also exert an indirect influence. The wide-ranging effect of the use of telephones, which have been in general use for generations, on running of business is not fully examined either. What is certain is that the use of computers does not result directly in labour efficiency progress, which is often viewed as a paradox. However, such conclusions are formulated due to a lack of a proven, modern method of studying the information market and its effect on the economy. What is known is that the telecommunications infrastructure improvement has an effect which is similar to that of economy innovation increase. Also, it seems that is it much easier to observe the effect of specific applications of ICT. It is estimated that about 25% of the overall increase in productivity in the period of 1970-1991 may be attributed to the development of telecommunications and the increase in the productivity of this sector, and based on the OECD estimations the application of electronic commerce technologies in retail results in a reduction of production costs by 0.7% in the US and Japan, by 0.6% in Germany and the UK, and by 0.5% in France. These data are interpreted as rough approximations of the growth in productivity, which amounted only to 0.8% in the G7 countries in the years 1979-97. It is forecasted that the use of electronic commerce for contacts between enterprises will bring even greater benefits (cf. the chapter "Electronic document and commerce"). Hence, access to information is becoming more and more important in the economy and social life, and governments of many countries are seeking to employ the potential of ICT to assist the economy and to improve the quality of life of their societies.

    The process of the information society emergence has started relatively recently, the relevant legal provisions are being developed only now, and "most countries are just entering the stage of constructing integrated information technology infrastructure featuring advanced service capabilities; hence Poland's backwardness in the area of the general-access information services development fortunately does not appear to be an essential drawback". However, highly developed countries are in the process of constructing integrated networks on the basis of the existing telephone networks physical infrastructure, the construction of which is the most expensive and the most time-consuming task. The low density of telephone lines in Poland may become the principal obstacle in Poland's economic growth. Therefore, the construction of the physical infrastructure should be awarded the status of the highest priority in the strategy of the national economic development (cf. the chapter "Universal access to information"). Other costs of economic transformation are substantial as well; however, appropriately defined priorities may help to achieve better results with the same expenditures. However, activities aimed at the integration and co-operation, in a broad sense, of existing and newly developed ICT systems require appropriate legal and organisational regulations as well as developing relevant standards. Hence, "Poland should actively and creatively contribute to the ongoing work on developing the principles of the future world-wide "information order" in the areas of institutional, service and technical resources of the information infrastructure". Another problem is presented by the lack of social awareness, knowledge and experience with respect to the possible uses of ICT. Therefore, it should be one of the fundamental tasks of the state to ensure appropriate education in that respect. The educational programme should be supported by a large-scale advertising campaign and by changes in the organisation of state administration and state-owned enterprises.

    The transformation from an industrial 20th-century society into an information society of the 21st century entails a range of economic, social, cultural, political, legal, technological, environmental, and other processes. "The information technology implementation results in the growing living standard, but it also entails dangers, which should not be downplayed". It is pointed out that the information technology development and the growing role of information in the economy may result in a type of social stratification in which citizens who will not have access to information will be disadvantaged in the economic and civilisational sense. An enhanced access to information may endanger the privacy and other interests of citizens, as well as lead to the emergence of a new type of offences. Telecommunications create new possibilities of interpersonal contacts, including cases in which direct contact is impossible due to distance, poor health, nature of work performed or family situation. On the other hand, however, the abuse of electronic media as a substitute for direct social contacts may lead to a sense of alienation and to mental disturbances. It is the role of the state to prevent these and other dangers and to ensure a lasting and sustainable social and economic development. This goal may be achieved through the adoption of an appropriate strategy defining the aims and directions of the information society development, the implementation of which should have a positive effect on the national social, political and economic situation, for "the trends within the information civilisation will exert a critical influence on the directions of Poland's social and economic development". "Information technology will play an increasingly important role in the societies and economies of the European countries, changing their methods of operation in essential ways. The immediate launching of the process of universal nationwide information technology implementation should facilitate Poland's accession to the European Union". Bearing in mind how important the ICT services development is in the West European countries, any delays in that area may adversely affect Poland's efforts to join the EU as well as full integration with NATO. The absence of an infrastructure for national crisis management is just one example. On the other hand, Poland should use the issues related to the information society development in its efforts to obtain additional EU funds, which should be duly reflected in the national strategy in that respect.

    It follows that the strategy for implementing the idea of the information society in Poland should be viewed as a set of activities aimed at ensuring the access of all citizens to information on the regulations, procedures, government actions, initiatives of private enterprises, possibilities of investment and development, financial mechanisms, available technologies and products, possibilities of applying ICT in the workplace and at home, as well as statistical information in the field of economy, demographics, living standards, environmental protection, etc., and at increasing the competitiveness of the Polish economy on the European and world market. "The growing competitiveness and innovativeness should serve to disseminate the leading technologies, particularly in the area of information technology, telecommunications, etc., to ensure high standards in education, as well as to modernise the economic structure and to construct modern infrastructure".

    The information society in Poland will be created by market forces, with a contribution of social mechanisms. Just as in the EU countries, small and medium-sized enterprises will be the principal actors gaining benefits from the new society creation as well as stimulating its development. ICT applications need no further promotion in those enterprises. The task of the government is to create relevant economic, legal and administrative mechanisms to guarantee general public access to information, to ensure fair competition, and to enable those interested to use the existing and future possibilities concerning the applications of ICT, as well as to develop new solutions both in the area of technology and work organisation. This partly follows from the role of the state in the process of lasting and sustainable development. "The state has to promote development and create conditions for an effective market activity and to exert an influence on market mechanisms in those economy branches in which the market forces themselves are not sufficient regulators of economic process. Setting priorities is a precondition for the pursuit of an active policy by the state. The setting of such priorities is necessitated by the comprehensive nature of the tasks involved and by Poland's existing development potential". The adoption of appropriate research priorities and establishing long-term programmes should stimulate innovation activities in the economy (cf. the chapter "Science and culture"). Moreover, the ICT implementation in state administration will stimulate its use in other sectors, promoting successful solutions and demonstrating the benefits gained from such use. "Providing the process of information technology development with an appropriate legal environment, within which the creation of the market, applications and IT education would be located, is a precondition for the universal development of this process". The task of the present document is to appropriately prioritise the matters relating to the transformation of the Polish society from an industrial society into an information society and to lay down a list of actions that must be taken in this respect by the government administration. The present document, just as the famous Bangemann report commissioned by the European Council, should also raise the awareness on the part of politicians of the relevant problems and challenges as well as the opportunities and dangers of the information revolution currently taking place in the world. The document should serve as a basis for developing "A Strategy for the information society development in Poland for 2002-2006 - e-Poland", which will comprise a plan of action, estimate the financial impact, and account for the contributing programmes developed by the competent ministers for the sectors of administration listed in the present document. The essential elements of those programmes will include the qualitative and quantitative analysis of the needs existing in the area of access to information, its scope, the means for its transmission and publication, as well as the outlays needed to accomplish the priority goals defined in those programmes. The presentation of the financial outlays will take into account the sources of financing, including the capabilities and limitations of the national budget.

    Universal access to information

    Aim: to ensure general public access to telecommunications services for citizens Co-ordinator: competent minister for telecommunications

    As a result of the development of ICT networks and the electronic media, it is easier and easier to access to information, which as a rule has substantial business, political, cultural value, etc. Pursuant to Article 54 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, every citizen enjoys the freedom of obtaining such information. In order to ensure an unrestrained exercise of this freedom it is necessary to take any possible actions to speed up as much as possible the provision of universal public access to the public telecommunications infrastructure and, via this infrastructure, to ICT services on the territory of Poland. Satisfying this requirement may constitute one of the preconditions for Poland's accession to the European Union, as in the draft directive of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union on public services and the rights of users with respect to electronic networks and communications services [COM(2000)392 of 12th July 2000) it is stated that "The Member States [of the European Union] shall ensure that [telecommunications] services of appropriate quality are made available to all users on their territories, regardless of their geographical location, and, accounting for the specific local conditions, at an affordable price". Due to the growing importance of information in the world economy (cf. the chapter "Changes in the structure of employment"), it is a fundamental task of the state (in line with the principle of the equal rights of citizens, enshrined in Article 3 of the Constitution) to prevent a stratification of the society into those having access to information and those not having such access, regardless of their race, religion, social status, income or domicile. Equal rights of access to information concerns not only the citizens of this country, but also ensuring the equal treatment and full participation of the Polish citizens and business in the world, including the European Union. Hence, "in order for Poland to be able to join the leading highly developed countries, the strategy of the country's development must be based on information technology implementation. The IT development is therefore in line with the Polish reasons of state.

    Because of its universal range, the public telephone network constitutes the basic instrument of accessing information. In order to prevent the above-mentioned stratification of the society, the development of this network should be a priority of the strategy of the country's economic development. It is necessary to amend "Telecommunications development policy " adopted by the Council of Ministers on 28th May 1996 and the "Outline strategy of the telecommunications market development for 1998-2001" adopted by the Council of Ministers on 25th August 1998, so that the economic incentives, the strategy of the deregulation of the market and the schedule of the Polish Telecommunications privatisation process are oriented not merely at achieving optimal short-term economic results, but also maximum benefits to be gained as results of providing the universal public access to the network. Demonopolisation and appropriate tax policy should result in further acceleration of the telecommunications development in Poland, through fast increase in the density of the telephone network. Relevant authorities should urgently prepare an appropriate application for the EU structural funds in order to improve the accessibility and use of telecommunications services by developing new applications. One should also aim to expand the range of applications of multipurpose, high-capacity digital telecommunications services, allowing the transmission of all types of information. Also, the work on standardising such systems should be speeded up. Apart from a telephone line, the basic service package for every new user should include, to the extent that it is feasible, automatic access to the computer network. In order to ensure the universal public use of the network, it is necessary to balance rates for the services provided and to apply the so-called "cost formula", which will become a legal requirement as of 2004. However, the cost of the same service rendered by a given operator should be the same at all locations on the territory of Poland. This requires, amongst other changes, the establishment of precise rules of clearances between operators. The Telecommunications Law of 21st July 2000 (Official Journal No. 73, item 852) introduces a far-reaching deregulation of the telecommunications market. Licences have been substituted with telecommunications permits, which are only required with respect to operating public telephone networks or public networks used to broadcast or disseminate radio or television programmes. This arrangement complies with the current acquis communautaire of the European Union. The establishment and operation of network for data transmission has been freed of this obligation, regardless of the types of signals and data transmitted.

    Access to ICT networks may be gained also by means of the existing infrastructures that constitute an alternative to the cable telecommunications networks and through which universal-access public services are provided. If these opportunities are used, a fast and relatively inexpensive increase in the accessibility of advanced information services is possible. The scientific community has used the fibre-optic infrastructure of the power-engineering sector. It also seems advisable to ensure a wider access to other alternative infrastructures for the provision of ICT services. One must recognise the important role of the cable-television operator in providing universal public access to ICT services in their networks, the density of which in some cities is comparable with that of the traditional telecommunications networks. A substantial role may potentially be played in this respect by the wireless access, e.g. via the networks of GSM operators (WAP and GPRS protocols), and in the future possibly UMTS as well. The aim should be to simplify the procedures of obtaining permits and the administrative decisions concerning the network development. Assistance should be provided to the development of multimedia communication, including an accelerated integration of the television and multimedia radio communications systems with the wire telecommunications systems.

    The construction of wideband bus networks is currently economically justifiable only as a component of larger infrastructure investments. Such opportunities should be used on the large scale. Therefore, it is proposed that licences for the construction of motorways should require the bidder to lay down fibre-optic cable along the constructed motorways, whereby a part of the fibres would be made available for the purposes of providing telecommunications services. A similar requirement should be extended to other investments, e.g. those related to the construction of railway lines, pipelines, etc. In this way, such opportunities will be used to construct suprainstitutional infrastructure.

    Due to the growing demand for information and the resultant increase in supply, we are currently witnessing a fast growth of dissemination systems*) employing radio technologies (incl. satellite technologies). It is imperative that Poland participates in international programmes dedicated to the development of global satellite systems. It is also advisable that swift action is taken aimed at using the space on geostationary orbits which is allocated to Poland pursuant to international agreements. A delay in this area may result in losing this space, and consequently prevent the establishment of a national information dissemination system. The relevant plan of action was developed and submitted to the Prime Minister by the Interministerial Team for the utilisation of the geostationary orbit allocated to the Republic of Poland pursuant to international agreements, which was founded by Regulation No. 32 of the Prime Minister of 11th May 2000 (amended by Regulation No. 41 of the Prime Minister of 13th June 2000). Due to the changes in the position on the orbit suggested by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the only offer of utilising the orbit that was submitted requires technical modification. The activities of the team will be continued, and they will additionally encompass developing a draft plan for the utilisation of the new position to serve the needs of the satellite radio transmission of the digital audio signal (Satellite Digital Audio Broadcasting - S-DAB).

    Because the access to information services in ICT networks is not universal, these services will be treated as media of public communication and will enjoy the freedom described in Article 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. Such services will not be subject to licensing, as is the case of radio and television broadcasters, because they do not require the allocation of frequencies within a limited spectrum. The development and public access to information, search engines and locating systems (metainformationsystems) in the networks should be stimulated.

    In order to ensure universal access to information accumulated in ICT networks, it is vital that the Council of Ministers adopts a long-term programme of regional development, the goal of which will be to establish centres for public access to networks (by means of computer terminals) which could be located, for example, in libraries, schools, cultural centres, museums, local and national administrative offices, job centres, specialised ministerial institutions (e.g. in Agricultural Advisory Centres), post offices, etc. The programme should target primarily less urbanised areas. The Council for IT Implementations in Rural Areas attached to the office of the Prime Minister, the establishment of which is proposed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, could assist in developing such a programme. As part of the project of ensuring universal network access, opportunities should be provided for the use of ICT services by the handicapped, the elderly, the unemployed, etc., and appropriate hardware should be provided. It is necessary not only to stimulate the manufacture of appropriate equipment and the development of service by economic means, but also to ensure that the price for such equipment and services does not exceed the prices of ordinary equipment and services (their purchase should be partly refunded by the state). It must also be pointed out that access to emergency health services and other health services may require financial support to those using the services.

    It must also be noted that information is distributed in electronic form not only via the network but also on CD-ROMs and other magnetic and magneto-optic media. Consequently, it is necessary to guarantee everyone equal and full access to such information by stimulating the purchase of computer hardware and software as well as telecommunications equipment. It must be borne in mind that universal literacy to the home applications of computer technologies will be automatically translated into better skills of employees in the workplace in that area. Similarly, certain types of games (educational games) contribute to developing cognitive capabilities and should be treated as educational resources.

    Information technology education

    Aim: to prepare the Polish society for technological, social and economic

    changes related to the creation of the information society Co-ordinator: competent minister for education and competent minister for
    institutions of higher education

    The use of electronic sources of information requires skills in using appropriate tools. It is to be expected that the continued process of simplifying the use of such tools will result in their being generally accepted by the society, as in the case of telephones, faxes and cash-dispensing machines. "Understanding information technologies and mastering its basic concepts and skills is today viewed in many countries as basic education, on a par with reading and writing". However, universal public access to information, discussed in the previous chapter, will only be possible when there is universal public knowledge with respect not only to the use of such tools, but also to the ways of obtaining desired information from electronic sources and the possible applications of such information. Therefore, it is necessary to adjust the programmes and curricula of universal public education so that they encompass the electronic data processing basis. "Adjusting the system of creating knowledge and educational systems to the requirements of the emerging information civilisation is aimed at educating humans who are able to function in such a civilisation, equipped with the skills of creating information and knowledge and the ability to use them, humans who have been prepared for using modern information and multimedia technologies both in the process of education and in the social and business sphere". To accomplish that, one should use the opportunity afforded by the educational system reform which is presently being implemented. "The national education programme for the information society" which is being developed by the Ministry of National Education since 1999 may serve as a starting point for achieving this goal. Pursuant to the provisions of the minimum national curriculum of general education for six-year primary schools and for junior secondary schools, i.e. Annex No. 1 to the Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 15th February 1999 on the general education curriculum basis (Official Journal No. 14, item 19) every primary-school student should be able to use a computer, to process simple texts and drawings using it, to use various sources and ways of obtaining information as well as of using and presenting it, and to use the computer to broaden his/her knowledge and to get familiar with various disciplines. A student of a junior secondary school (gymnasium) should be able to select, combine and apply various information technology tools in solving typical practical and school problems, to use various dispersed sources of information, including multimedia sources, that can be accessed using a computer, to solve problems of moderate complexity by applying the algorithmic method which she/he has learnt, and to appreciate the advantages and dangers related to the growth in the number of computer applications. Such a curriculum of information processing should be supplemented with the obligatory use of electronic media during other classes, which would require introducing presentations and exercises in the methods of using educational software and other electronic teaching resources to the curricula of teacher pre-service and in-service training. Moreover, it is imperative that such curricula and teaching methods are designed in which computers become regular teaching and learning tools without eliminating the methods and forms of creative thinking. The demand for such resources should be examined and requirements imposed on such resources should be defined. The Ministry of National Education should recommend the use of such resources to schools. It is also indispensable that the growth of the electronic teaching tools production is stimulated. Educational databases as well as libraries of electronic and multimedia tools for students of all types of schools should be founded. Changes in curricula should be matched by the process of furnishing schools with ICT tools and with teacher training. At the end of 1999, the number of primary-school students per one computer was 85, whereas the comparable figures were 26 in France in 1998, 16 in the UK, and 13 in Finland and Sweden. In secondary schools these figures were as follows: Poland - 44, France - 12, Finland - 11, UK - 9, Sweden - 6. As can be seen from these statistics, it is necessary to increase subsidies for the information technology implementation at schools. The educational system reform which is currently being implemented is conducive to undertaking such a project, as hardware has up till now been purchased mostly with the funds of parent committees, sponsors and local governments. However, with appropriate expenditure, hardware shortages are a relatively minor obstacle to the progress of the universal information technology education programme. The shortage of properly trained teaching staff is a much more serious barrier. At the end of 1999, merely 11.8% of school teachers had any competence in information technology, whereas the desired level was found to be 50-80% of the total number of teaching staff. For technical reasons (e.g. due to the time needed to train teachers) and because of the large spendings on relevant courses and postgraduate degree programmes it is a long-term process to change this situation. Furthermore, one should provide for establishing teaching specializations within information technology degree programmes. It is also imperative that teachers are properly trained in using new media and in their applications which aid effective teaching of other subjects. The completion of such a large project requires the distance learning implementation.

    In order to permit teaching the skills of information retrieval via ICT networks, it is above all necessary to continue the "Interkl@sa" programme co-ordinated by the Committee for Education, Science and Youth of the parliament, the aim of which is to provide computers and Internet access to all junior secondary schools (by September 2000) and to half of the schools above junior-secondary level (by the end of 2001) as well as to prepare students for solving problems using computers and the Internet. The computer at schools are to be used not only teaching purposes. As a result of the 1998 project called "Internet classroom in every commune", to which PLN 95 million were allocated, 2,480 primary schools were furnished with computers with Internet access, each classroom featuring 10 workstations. A follow-up project was named "An Internet classroom in every junior secondary school", and its implementation has been planned for 1999-2000; in 1999, PLN 30 million and PLN 9.2 million were allocated for the project in the national budget and in the budget of the local communes respectively, thanks to which 812 more schools were furnished with computers. For the year 2000, the total amount of PLN 100 million has been allocated in the national budget for this purpose. As part of both projects mentioned above, 9,000 teachers were trained. These actions should be continued. By the end of 2005, all schools in Poland should have Internet access. Countries in which government projects of this kind are being conducted include Finland, France, Germany, Sweden and the United States. The budget financing of the use of the Internet by students should be guaranteed during the first years of the project. The process of equipping schools with computers should additionally be supported through appropriate tax reductions for companies donating gifts for educational purposes. However, such process should be preceded by a detailed analysis of teaching-related needs and by creation of an modern classroom model.

    Computer programming is not a prerequisite for using new ICT and for full participation in the information society. Therefore, in schools above the junior-secondary level, the teaching of programming may be conducted only in forms with an extended curriculum of mathematics and technology. This is because methods of constructing algorithms, just as formal logic, provide solid foundations for studying many branches of knowledge (e.g. law). On the other hand, knowledge of general, non-technological application of ICT is necessary in many disciplines which are often otherwise very remote, e.g. in studying law (cf. the chapter "Law and offences in information and communication technology field"). Therefore, curricula of other school subjects should be modified so that they encompass selected aspects of using and applying new media and new methods of information retrieval. With respect to training personnel in the field of IT, the aim should be to synchronise Polish curricula with world curricula, particularly with European curricula, which will facilitate the mutual equivalency of degree diplomas, without the need for conducting additional formal diploma recognition procedures.

    Finally, due to the dynamic development of information technologies, it is necessary to develop a universal system of permanent education, which will provide opportunities for learning about new technology development. Such system should be targeted primarily at those employees for whom the use of ICT is indispensable in their workplace. During the initial period, it should also ensure that elderly citizens learn to adjust to new working and living conditions. Such a system will permit fast retraining of the unemployed - the former employees of the branches of industry and agriculture which are undergoing restructuring; this is discussed in the chapter "Changes in employment structure" below. This is all the more important that according to current estimates every employee will change his/her vocation 4 to 5 times during his/her lifetime. Permanent education should be extended both to users of information technology and to the experts who develop it, by providing ways of verifying the skills and knowledge for both these categories. For this purpose, it is necessary to recognise a uniform frame of reference with respect to the universal skills in information technology (e.g. the so-called European Computer Driving Licence, which is currently being introduced by the European Union and a system of specialisation degrees for experts in information technology. Such certificates may help in determining the qualifications and responsibilities of staff employed in public administration as well as in other sectors (cf. the chapter "Information technology implementation in administration"). Only people who have completed relevant courses should be employed where computer literacy is required. The programme of permanent education should be supplemented with an educational project aimed at promoting ICT applications in business, targeted at managerial staff of companies.. Centres for information, training and technology transfer will be founded and supported; their aim will be particularly to support the use of ICT in small and medium sized enterprises, especially in rural regions.

    New media also afford new opportunities in the distance teaching field. Distance learning permits students the so-called just-in-time learning, i.e. acquiring a part of knowledge precisely when it is needed, which enhances the effectiveness of using such knowledge in practice. The use of ICT networks allows interactive participation in lectures and laboratory experiments which are being delivered or conducted hundreds of kilometres away. It also permits a remote co-operation between students from different schools. Universities and colleges which have branches in other towns or which co-operate with schools above junior-secondary level should be encouraged to use such teaching forms. In this way, it would also be possible to raise the standards of teaching children in rural areas. It is essential that the Council of Ministers develop a long-term regional development programme, encompassing a dozen or so pilot projects of various types at various locations in the country. Such undertakings should not be isolated incidents but instead should be made permanent items in teaching curricula. The national budget financing of such projects should be guaranteed. Learning materials and materials for verifying learning results should also be developed. There are already well-tried models to follow in this respect, specifically radio and television educational programmes. They can be transformed into a new and more attractive form, which will make them more effective and will open up new possibilities. It is also necessary to introduce legal regulations with respect to examinations taken within the distance-learning system, e.g. those using ICT networks.

    Changes in employment structure
    Aim: to prepare the Polish society for new conditions on the labour market and for new methods in the workplace; to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the changes taking place in the country in order to reduce unemployment resulting from the restructuring of industry and agriculture.
    Co-ordinator: competent minister for labour and competent minister for social security.

    Many people merely associate information technology implementation with the automatisation of routine activities and the job reductions. However, technological revolution brought about by universal IT implementation will also serve to create many new professions and services, and consequently many new jobs will be created, particularly in the service sector. The impact of the information sector on employment varies depending on the technologies used and the market structures of various branches of industry, and on indirect effects. The net result with respect to employment is difficult to estimate. What is certain is that new jobs will call for completely new qualifications compared with the jobs being eliminated (cf. the chapter "Information technology education"). As a result of these changes, every employee will change his/her profession four to five times during his/her lifetime. The make-up of the industrial sector should gradually undergo changes, away from the dominance of heavy industry manufacturing low-processed goods, towards the dominance of high-technology industry manufacturing highly processed goods characterised by a large added value, generated domestically. Moreover, according to international sources, universal access to information technologies will result in redundancies among the junior managerial staff while at the same time requiring more responsibilities and qualifications of the employees at the lowest level. With those forecasts in mind, one should urgently consider possibilities of retraining with respect to employees holding positions which will be eliminated in future. This issue is of particular relevance in today's Poland, where the restructuring of agriculture and large branches of the manufacturing industry is needed. This situation allows us to set priorities of economic development, in which we can draw on the experience of more advanced countries of the European Union. If appropriate innovativeness policy is implemented, together with related financial instruments, Poland will have the opportunity to transform from a country in which agriculture and heavy industry predominate into a country manufacturing highly processed products, using technologically advanced ICT products. Whereas the restructuring of agriculture and most of the branches of industry, including the heavy industry, requires enormous expenditure and active participation of international consortia, the activities undertaken by Polish companies in the field of ICT, supported by proper policies of the state, are able to substantially accelerate the country's economic progress. This would allow savings in the national budget and would afford Poland the opportunity to overcome the technological and economic backwardness. Therefore, the restructuring agriculture and industry programmes should be urgently modified so that they contain mechanisms for creating new jobs in the ICT sector as well as those related to knowledge management and information processing in other branches of the economy, as well as for appropriate retraining of employees. The funds which are allocated for those purposes in the national budget should be used for purposes such as training in the use of information technology and equipment. ICT should also be used as an instrument for reducing the unemployment rate. The National Employment Office should open an electronic register of job offers, which would subsequently be made available on the Internet.

    Global telecommunications networks also allow distance work (teleworking). Such arrangements are possible in most cases with respect to employees who are constantly travelling on business, and who contact their offices only to obtain some information or to transmit data which they had collected in the field. This concerns, in equal measure, transportation workers, sales persons, journalists, general medical practitioners, etc. It is possible, however, to apply this work method to some office positions, where conceptual work as well correspondence may be handled by an employee at home. Such an arrangement may open new opportunities for employment to mothers raising children or to the handicapped. It must be noted that such a solution would contribute to reducing traffic congestion and consequently to reducing the environmental pollution. Under this type of arrangement, labour costs covered by the employee are the same as under traditional arrangements; in Germany, for example, they amount to about DM 300. The alternative arrangement also permits reduction in the office space needed, which saved the employer about 46% of labour costs. The annual cost of maintaining one office job in Germany is DM 13,900, compared with DM 7,516 in the case of distance employment. In order to make distance work popular in small and medium-sized enterprises, it is necessary (particularly in smaller towns and villages) to establish centres for distance work. Such centres could be run by Internet service providers, as well as by telecommunications operators. At the same time, relevant mechanisms and implementation strategies should be developed with respect to the introduction of teleworking in the administrative offices of the national and local governments, which should result in tangible benefits for the national budget. Employees working under such arrangements should be guaranteed period integrative meeting which will enable them to maintain personal contacts among themselves as well as with employees working within the traditional system. A pilot project of this type should be treated as a fundamental element of the state administration reform. Local governments should also be persuaded to introduce such new solutions.

    In order to ensure appropriate efficiency of distance work, steps should be taken aiming at developing the legal framework which will permit rendering distance services as part of a contract of employment. This will entail changes in tax regulations. It is essential that employees are provided with a possibility of distance work for another country. With this in mind, the issues of work permits and income tax for work performed on the territory of Poland for a foreign company should be regulated. Proper legal regulations may create opportunities for intellectual expansion and serve to reduce the emigration of highly qualified Polish professionals due to economic reasons (the so-called "brain drain"). It is necessary to develop the principles of accounting for the amount of work performed, based on the number of tasks completed or on work time. It is also essential that psychological, sociological and statistical studies are conducted with respect to employees of administrative offices engaged in distance work.

    Law and offences in information and communication technology field

    Aim: To adjust legal provisions to the requirements of the rapid technological progress and the information society era; to apply ICT in developing new legislation. Co-ordinator: President of the Polish Academy of Sciences

    The promulgation of ICT tools, and in particular of electronic media for storing information and of computer networks, has resulted in the emergence of new threats to the security of citizens and new types of criminal offences. Nevertheless, as international experts agree unanimously, an unrestrained development of ICT, whereby the only restrictions are those which are indispensable for the functioning of the market and ensuring the security of citizens, is a positive phenomenon, as it stimulates economic growth. Therefore, measures must be taken to ensure that new legislation in this area is restricted to the necessary minimum. The newly created legislation should be neutral with respect to the technologies to which they apply, due to substantial changeability of these technologies, and they should allow the application of general provisions to the ICT data, products and services. The Polish law should be reviewed in terms of the possibilities for using new media and technological solutions. At the same time, it is necessary to start work on legislative procedures which would ensure a formalisation of the newly introduced legislation to such an extent as to allow its automatic processing as well as the verification of its unambiguity, completeness and non-contradictoriness with the current legal system. It is possible to construct tools which facilitate the creation of new legislation (e.g. dictionary databases, procedures for testing the non-contradictoriness of regulations, etc.). Of particular importance is ensuring the algorithmic nature of the law, as it concerns many areas for which information technology systems exist or are being constructed (e.g. the tax system, the social-insurance sector, etc.). Changes in legal regulations may result in far-reaching changes in those systems and consequently to place considerable burden on the national budget. This concerns particularly changes in the customs and tax systems. Hence, the assessment of the financial consequences for the state budget of the introduction and amendment of legislation, which is to be submitted to the Council of Ministers, should account for the cost of modifying the existing and the newly developed software. At the same time, in order to reduce such cost, draft legislation should be consulted with software development teams.

    Under the current Polish legal system, the Personal Data Protection Act of 29th August 1997 (Official Journal No. 133, item 883) is the only piece of legislation which relates to the issues of data storage in ICT systems. The provisions of this act should be urgently made universally applicable, as the proper enforcement of this act will be one of the basic conditions which have to be satisfied before the European Union pronounces Poland to be a safe country. The processing of personal data of citizens should be possible only in cases when those citizens accept it or when the law permits such processing. Such data should be properly secured technically so as to prevent illegal use. It should be possible to preserve anonymity in ICT networks wherever it is possible to preserve outside the networks. The Copyright and Derivative Rights Act of 4th February 1994 (Official Journal No. 24, item 83) should be amended, so that it clearly defines the scope of protection extended to works of authorship, including audio and video programmes and recordings which are recorded and distributed in an electronic form (including the distribution via the ICT networks). Work on the relevant legal regulations should take into account the Agreement on Trade–Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) (Official Journal No. 32 of 1996, item 143), which was signed within the framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In this context, it is advisable that Poland should join the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, adopted within the framework of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) at the diplomatic conference devoted to selected issues of copyright and derivative rights in Geneva, on 20th December 1996. In the context of copyright, relevant provisions in customs and tax regulations should be introduced to ensure that there is a clear difference between licences to manufacture software and licences to use software. Co-operation with international organisations should be established and relevant bodies should keep track of the new developments in the area of regulations concerning the digital storage of works, creating and using multimedia works, electronic publications and other means of making works of authorship available by electronic means, particularly in computer networks, and the responsibility for copyright infringements on the Internet. It is essential that a new law on industrial property is implemented urgently, in order to ensure proper protection of foreign patents, registered trademarks and brand names. The recognition of the names of domains on the Internet as legally protected trademarks is a separate issue. Regulations in this respect should be co-ordinated with the legal provisions in this area effective in the European Union. Moreover, full harmonisation of the Polish law with the acquis communautaire of the European Union requires that a parliamentary law on the protection of rights to databases, compliant with the Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union of 11th March 1996, is urgently drafted and resolved.

    Due to the growing economic importance of information (cf. the chapter "Electronic document and commerce"), one should expect a rise in the number of offences consisting in appropriation, wilful alteration or destruction of electronically stored information. ICT tools may also be used during the commission of other punishable acts, such as soliciting for prostitution, blackmail, sabotage, etc. Therefore, it is essential that regulations accounting for offences of this type are urgently passed. The proposed regulations should comply with the regulations of the European Union in that respect.

    A new quality is introduced by the presence of illegal and harmful content in telecommunications networks; such content includes pornography, nationalist and terrorist materials. While special attention should be paid to the issue of the freedom of speech, the draft law prohibiting the promulgation of illegal and harmful content in ICT networks should be urgently developed, whereby the materials developed within OECD and the Resolution of the Council of Europe of 17th February 1997 should be adopted as a starting point. The new law should clearly define the responsibility of individuals and institutions who/which are sources of information, its editors and its providers in the chain of intermediaries, which is frequently a long chain. The law should define the formal and legal mechanisms of monitoring the content of material made available in the network which would not restrict the free exchange of information. In order to protect minors from harmful content, a system of independent and voluntary ranking and classification of the content published in ICT networks should be developed and implemented; such ranking and classification could be performed by consumer organisations. Relevant technological solutions should enable parents to block access to such content, whereby network-access providers would perform such blockage. The universal use of such arrangements would lead to universal compliance with the above-mentioned ranking.

    The coding of information sent via ICT networks is a separate issue. While the information coding is generally viewed as necessary for ensuring the privacy and security of network users and for the favourable development of electronic economy, the complexity of the key (i.e. its length) and of the coding algorithm, as well as access to this key on the part of government agencies, remain contentious issues. In the interest of national security and protection from terrorism, one should consider allowing government agencies to have access to the keys used for coding any information distributed via public networks, which would however infringe on the right to the secrecy of communication (cf. Article 49 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland). It is therefore essential that such legal provisions and such systems of managing coding keys are introduced that the due balance between the interests of the state, justified by reasons of security, and the interests of its citizens is preserved. Regulations in this respect should be developed in collaboration with the European Union, where it is currently proposed that independent institutions are established which would store the coding keys and make them available to government agencies upon presentation of a prosecutor's warrant, which constitutes an authorisation to overrule the secrecy of electronic mail and to install audio surveillance. The information coding may be subject to certain restrictions, and the decoding should not be permitted without informing the sender (with the exception of the above-mentioned case). Such regulations should take into account the guidelines concerning the coding policy developed by OECD. Relevant technology should be provided in order to permit the decoding of information originating in other countries of the world, including countries of the European Union, and to establish working co-operation in that respect. Systems which are established with a purpose of ensuring national security, and extending to the police, the army, special services and some commercial institutions, should use the most recent security methods. Clearly, completely fail-safe, unbreakable security systems do not exist and will never exist. However, a piece of information is generally viewed as well protected when the cost of breaking the security system exceeds the value of this piece of information. For this reason, the technologies and equipment used in such security systems should be required to be certified by the Office of State Protection. It is also essential that research is initiated, with a view to the needs of national security, on the technological and organisational methods of protecting ICT systems and the data processed within those systems.

    In many cases, it is very difficult to ascertain at what location the above-mentioned were committed. Very frequently, the location of the offender and the places of intercepting, sending, receiving or generating information in a network may be all located in different countries. Therefore, what is needed is a supranational harmonisation of legal regulations and international operational activities. In order to permit early detection of offences committed in ICT networks, it is imperative that relevant services are established for that purpose. Such services are to be available 24 hours a day and collect information about suspected offences. They should be provided with a separate contact telephone and fax number as well as with a contact e-mail address (following the Computer Emergency Response Team within the Research and Academic Computer Network). Such services should closely co-operate with the international network of contact centres of this kind. It is also essential that court experts in the field of IT are appointed and that special courses in information technology are designed for legal practitioners and law students as well as for customs officers.

    Electronic document and commerce
    Aim: to adjust the national economy to the requirements of the global electronic commerce by introducing regulations concerning the electronic commerce.
    Co-ordinator: competent minister for the economy

    One of the most important tasks facing the administrations of all the countries of the world is developing such legal regulations and technologies which will permit information in electronic form to be treated as a legal document. Poland should urgently join the work conducted in that area in the European Union. It is essential that legal procedures are adopted in the document authentication and electronic signature fields, defining the criteria for the identity of a document and for the inviolability of a document, the conditions of making and modifying copies, the impossibility of withdrawing or forging a signature, and determining conditions under which an inscription has legal effect. The Civil Code, the Criminal Code, the Administrative Procedure Code, the Commercial Partnerships and Companies Code and many other parliamentary acts should be amended accordingly. Independently of these amendments, it is possible to introduce, using the currently available technology, electronic mail and electronic bulletin boards as a standard for exchanging internal information within offices. Such a solution would contribute to making the circulation of documents more efficient and would permit closer monitoring of the work performed in those offices. Assuming that there exists a secure network used by national administrative offices (e.g. PESEL-Net), it is possible to extend this standard within a short period to include communication between offices (e.g. an improved version of the electronic mail system for the national government administration - PEAR-2). Most official correspondence may also be sent via public networks (where the use of telephone and faxes serves as an example). In such cases, it is necessary to define the methods of connecting local-area networks, operating within the offices and including confidential or otherwise classified information, to public networks. The principles currently applied should be modified, as the physical separation of single workstations with an access to the public network may make work more difficult and lead to the abuse of special networks. It is important the standards adopted should be directly agreed with the European Commission. The introduction of such standards may vastly reduce the costs of administration, as "electronic mail is faster, more reliable and it may save 95% of the costs of using a fax machine" (cf. the chapter "Information technology implementation in administration").

    The introduction of electronic documents for universal use is not a goal in itself, but only a necessary precondition for the electronic commerce development, which has recently been strongly emphasised by the European Union. Even though the data are scant, due to the fact that the electronic commerce is a recent phenomenon, some initial conclusions regarding its profitability in various fields of business may already be formulated. For example, depending on the commodity being traded, savings in distribution costs are: for airline ticket sales - 87%, for bank transactions - 89%, for bills settlement - 61-71%, for issuing life-insurance policies - 50% and for software sales - 97-99%. In this respect, the growth in the number of ICT applications and relevant tools in Poland depends heavily on the development of a real bank system. It is imperative that urgent action is taken aimed at a simplification and greater efficiency of clearances between banks and at introducing uniform rules of document recognition. It is necessary to specify conditions under which photocopies and fax copies of invoices, money transfer orders and money transfer receipts can be recognised as reliable documents when making payments. It is essential than a system of verifying and accepting cheques and banking cards, which would be accepted by all banks, is developed. Any financial means available should be used to stimulate the growth in cash-free transactions (e.g. by reducing banking card fees in state-owned banks, a temporary introduction of a reduced VAT, etc.). It is also necessary to stimulate the development of systems using s card and the so-called electronic purses (especially with respect to small payments such as car-park charges, public-transportation tickets, various admission fees, vending machines with food products, etc.) It is essential that standards for smart cards are developed, in co-operation with international organisations, in order to integrate various card functions and reduce the number of card types. Cash-free transactions should also be accepted by all state offices and state-owned enterprises (including the Polish Post, Polish State Railways, etc.). Cash payments made by state institutions to their employees should be reduced to the necessary minimum (e.g. only to cases of advance payments). This also applies to payments made in foreign currencies during business trips abroad. The full exchangeability of the Polish zloty or the introduction of the euro in the future is also of importance. In this context, the development of office-banking and home-banking systems, permitting bank transactions to be made at home or in the workplace, should be stimulated. Such systems should be available in all regions of the country and a flat, preferential rate should be used in charging fees for such services. Before such arrangements can be introduced, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications must develop a numbering system for services of this type. Such systems should also be introduced in clearances between administrative offices and state-owned banks.

    The universal use of electronic documents in bank settlements will result in a rapid growth in electronic transactions between business enterprises, as well as in the development of distance shopping (teleshopping). Whereas the universal use of ICT in retail is dependent on a range of factors (including the existence of extensive access networks), a dynamic growth in applications is expected in contacts between businesses, which already account for 80% of electronic commerce. The development of new trading methods will parallel the changes in the world industry and the ultra-rapid growth of ICT services, as discussed above in the chapter "Changes in employment structure". It is increasingly common to treat information as a commodity with a defined value and price. Services provided by small companies will be available all over the world, and they will be provided remotely (e.g. by sending a book in an electronic form or extending a licence to use software). In this context, it is necessary to modify the Commercial Partnerships and Companies Code as well as customs and tax regulations, in line with the regulations which are already in force or which are being developed in the European Union, so as to ensure that both the interests of the vendor and the purchaser are appropriately secured in such transactions, and that the development of such activities is given preferential treatment, with proper guarantees that the interests of the national budget are also satisfied. The report on the activities of the Interministerial Task Group for the commerce by electronic, means which was established pursuant to Regulation No. 7 of the Prime Minister of 17th May 1999 (amended by Regulation No. 8 of the Prime Minister of 31st January 2000), which contains an analysis of the current legal framework with respect to the possibilities of using current legal provisions in electronic transactions and of the proposes objectives and solutions, was adopted by the Council of Ministers on 11th July 2000. After the activities of the Task Group were completed, the Council of Minister appointed the Interministerial Task Group for the electronic commerce. By the end of the year 2000, a proposed new law on electronic signature will be drafted, which allows universal performance of legal activities by electronic means. The provisions of the parliamentary act of 2nd March 2000 on the protection of certain consumer rights and on responsibility for the harm done by hazardous products have been implemented (Official Journal No. 22, item 271).

    In the future, the development and universal use of electronic transaction should permit the placing of public orders via electronic networks and the submission of tax statements as well as the payment of taxes by electronic means. Because work in this area is already in progress in the countries of the European Union, conceptual work on such systems should be initiated without delay.

    Public procurement
    Aim: to enhance the system of public procurement in order to make the implementation of ICT systems to the public sector more efficient; to make the system of public procurement more efficient by using ICT networks.
    Co-ordinator: President of the Public Procurement Office

    Due to the emergence of new work methods and to the changes occurring in the public sector, public procurement in constructing of complex ICT systems is implemented more and more often. The relevant procedure is regulated by the Public Procurement Act of 10th June 1994 (uniform text: Official Journal No. 119 of 1998, item 773) and by secondary legislation. However, in practice, such public procurement in the ICT area pose many problems to the ordering party. To protect the interests of the ordering party and avoid possible contention with the contractors, model documents used in relevant procedures should be developed, including a description of procedure for placing public orders in the ICT field, model forms for specifying essential terms and conditions of a public procurement and model contracts for ICT systems, whereby orders for open systems should be preferred, permitting further extension of these systems through competitive tender procedures, so as to prevent the monopolisation of the market by any contractor. It should be made clear to what extent the ordering party is permitted to use paid services of independent experts from the academic community or professional organisations, who are familiar with the tools available and with the ICT market, and on what terms and conditions it is possible for the employees of the ordering party to co-operate in implementing the system with the contractor. The proposed measures should facilitate the placing of orders for complex ICT systems and to ensure their satisfactory quality.

    The assessment of the reliability and competence of the contractors constitutes another important issue related to the placing of public orders in the ICT field. Articles 19 and 22 of the Public Procurement Act permit a formal verification of tenderers in terms of their reliability and competence needed to execute orders of a specified type; however, these instruments are not always skilfully used by the ordering parties, which may result in placing large orders with contractors who are not fully prepared for executing them. The provisions of Article 22, section 2, subsection 2 of the Act impose on contractors the obligation to prove the qualifications needed to perform activities of a specified type; however, these provisions will only serve as an effective instrument after the system of degrees or professional qualifications in information technology professions is introduced (cf. the chapter "Information technology education").

    The records of the Office of Public Procurement show that procedures aimed at placing a public order are increasingly frequently declared null and void for formal reasons, which has been classified as pathological phenomenon. This applies to the ICT field as well. Illicit activities of the ordering parties, e.g. demanding from the tenderers documents which are not required in the statutory document or organising faked invitations to tender which are then declared null and void for formal reasons, undoubtedly contravene the law. The government-authored draft of a new parliamentary act on public procurement proposes improvements in the public procurement system, such as separating the evaluation of the tenderers as such from the evaluation of tenders submitted based on their merits, improving the transparency of placing a public order, and enhancing the system of complaints and appeals (which professional and business organisations will be able to submit on behalf of the tenderers, and which will ultimately be heard by the courts). These improvements should have a favourable effect also in the area of ICT systems orders.

    After each undertaking in the information technology area is completed, it should be evaluated with a view to detecting various possibilities of change at further stages of the undertaking or in the course of future undertakings. To ensure that such evaluations are comparable, universal methods and norms for evaluating the effectiveness of investment in the area of information technology should be developed, as well as the criteria for evaluating and verifying the work completed, serving the needs of both the ordering party and the monitoring and inspectional institutions. It is essential, particularly in the ICT area where investments are costly and sensitive to faulty solutions, that periodic analyses are made of the effect of the parliamentary act on public procurement with respect to its effectiveness and to its benefits.

    The changing nature of legal regulations which provide the legal framework for constructing systems which are being implemented as a result of placing a public order is a separate problem. Such changes cause losses not only to the contractors but also to the ordering party. For the information technology development in the public sector to be correctly implemented, it is essential that a stable legal framework is created and that due attention is paid to the necessary changes in the existing and currently implemented ICT systems when developing new regulations. There should be an obligation to present the cost of such changes, as they have a financial impact on the national budget (cf. the chapter "Law and offences in information and communication technology field"). There should also exist an obligation to define the terms for continuing or terminating the contracts signed by the ordering party. To some extent, the continuation of the contracted work should be facilitated by supplementary orders, the introduction of which is proposed in the new draft law on public procurement. Because the possibility of using such mechanisms will have to be accounted as early as at the stage of announcing an invitation to tender, it is essential that such a mechanism is taken into account in the model specification of the essential terms of a public order, which was proposed above. Moreover, the ordering party should - as part of their individual responsibility - see to it that the provisions of the contract signed provide for a possibility of continuing or terminating the work contracted in the case of changes in the legal regulation currently in force.

    One should also gradually introduce electronic systems to the placing public orders process. Already at the present time, the on-line edition of the "Public Procurement Bulletin" is issued. However, it is essential that the obligation to publish announcement on invitations to tender on the Internet (e.g. on the WWW pages of the ordering parties), even if publishing them in the "Public Procurement Bulletin" is not obligatory; also, it is essential that specifications of important contract terms can be supplied via electronic means. One should ultimately aim at permitting the tendering procedures to be conducted with the aid of computer networks (primarily the Internet). The Bangemann Report states that "the estimated cost of handling on electronic order is one tenth of its paper equivalent" Submitting tenders via electronic means requires electronic documents to be legally valid, as discussed above in a separate chapter. Furthermore, one should defined the methods of protecting electronic tenders from unauthorised access as well the mechanisms permitting the ordering party to study the content of the tenders before the deadline for submission and before the official opening. New arrangements should ensure fair competition, while at the same time preserving the transparency of the procedures and securing the interests of the ordering party in a more effective way. Work on the introduction of electronic methods to the procedures of placing public orders should be conducted in co-ordination with the relevant EU schemes (e.g. the SIMAP project - Systéme d’Information des Marchés Publics).

    Information technology implementation in administration
    Aim: to establish, with the aid of ICT instruments transparent and citizen-friendly structures of public administration which are fit for the era of the open information society; to ensure greater efficiency of administration through a broader application of ICT

    Co-ordinator: competent minister for internal affairs and competent minister for public administration.

    Aim: to provide conditions for a lasting and sustainable regional development, accounting for modern ICT and to monitor such development.

    Co-ordinator: competent minister for regional development, competent minister for spatial planning and housing and competent minister for architecture and construction.

    At the present moment, national and local government administrations use the ICT only to a very limited extent. Proper computer use in administrative procedures would permit a greater efficiency in the respect as well as closer monitoring of the activities conducted in those offices. Also, the access for citizens to relevant information on regulations currently in force as well as on the competence and responsibilities of offices would be easier. Such information is difficult to access at the present moment, which not only contravenes Article 61, section 1, of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, but also places an additional burden on those offices, which must deal with erroneously submitted applications or incomplete procedures. For this reason, legislative work on the parliamentary draft law on access to public information (document No. 2094) as well as on the draft law on the transparency of decision procedures, interest groups and public access to information (document No. 2153) should be speeded up. The new law should ensure full access to information related to the public sector, both by traditional and electronic means. It is necessary to apply ICT in order to intensify the participation of citizens in the public life and to enhance the transparency of public life.

    Also, it is essential that a network of general-access workstations is created in national and local administrative offices and in libraries (cf. the chapter "Universal access to information") which would allow the citizens to access the complete collection of legislation currently in force (ranging from the Constitution to the resolutions of various collegial bodies and regulations), complete with explanations and descriptions of procedures currently in force as well as a listing of citizens' rights and duties. National offices should also be obliged to provide information services via the Internet, teletext, and in the future also via interactive television. This project should be extended also to local government administrative offices. Legislation concerning foreign nationals or legislation of importance for foreign businesses should be made available at least in both Polish and English. The network should allow citizens to pursue official business, such as submitting applications, petitions, queries or representations to relevant offices by electronic means. Work on relevant procedures and security arrangements should be conducted in co-ordination with the European Union.

    For a more complete exercise of civil liberties, it is essential that a system of providing statistical situation on the economic, demographic, social and environmental situation of the country is developed. The system would help to fulfil the duty to provide the public, the state and administrative institutions as well as state-owned businesses with reliable, objective and systematic information, which is imposed by Article 3 of the Public Statistics Act of 29th June 1995 (Official Journal No. 88, item 439, as amended). The Central Statistic Office should act as a co-ordinator in that respect.

    A number of information technology systems have been completed and implemented in government administration; these are POLTAX in the Ministry of Finance, PESEL in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration, and REGON in the Central Statistic Office. A number of other such systems are being implemented: ALSO (PLUS and POMOST) in the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, a system of vehicle registration in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration, the Comprehensive Information Technology System in the Social Insurance Institution (KSI ZUS) and a system in the Central Board of Customs. The implementation of most of those systems infringed on the principles of economic prudence, good practice in the information technology field as well as the legislation in force. This state of affairs has caused substantial losses to the national budget, as the planned expenditure targets were exceeded and the completion of projects was delayed. The reasons for that include unstable legislation, attempts at computerising inefficient structures and procedures, inadequate competence of ordering parties and the lack of co-ordination between ministries; this has resulted in imprecise requirements, duplicating various solutions and constructing incompatible systems.

    To change this state of affairs, it is necessary to provide the management staff with essential training, which would allow them to understand and correctly implement the information technology. The first step in this process should be the functional analysis of an office in question and the circulation of documents within it, making required changes in the organisation and developing algorithms for procedures and management process. The computer installation should be the next step. Because the task of reorganising offices are the responsibility of the directorial staff in relevant ministries, it is necessary to provide senior management with short training courses on modern methods of reorganising processes. In collaboration with their local offices, individual ministries will develop plans for information technology implementation in those ministries. Furthermore, the requirements made for information technology systems of other ministries will be defined with sufficient precision. Such plans will include estimated financial expenditure as well as a list of benefits to be gained from adopting relevant projects. Such work should be consulted with independent experts in business reorganisation and analysis area, as well as experienced specialists in information technology (systems analysts). Based on such body of work, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration, assisted by the Council for Information Technology affiliated with the Prime Minister, will develop a target-oriented, collective strategy of the development of ICT in government administration, taking into account the demand for communications, the possibilities of exchanging of documents in electronic form, the existing infrastructure, the compatibility of systems and data security. To ensure compliance of the strategy with the EU requirements and standards which are effective in the EU, efforts aimed at the European Commission expanding its initiatives to include Poland will be intensified. "Ensuring the interoperation compliance of ICT systems in state administration in Poland with the [European] Community systems is prerequisite for future admission [to the EU]". Poland will urgently join the work conducted within the IDA II (Interchange of Data between Administrations) project and its sub-projects, for which it applied on 25th May 2000. For that purpose, national priorities should be defined within the strategy for information technology implementation in administration, necessary expenditure will be estimated, and funds will be earmarked for this purpose in the national budget. Parallel to that, efforts will be made to obtain funds from the European Union. Negotiations will aim at ensuring that Poland participates in the project on equal terms to those of EU member states (including access to all the resources of the project and to all the procedures, technological arrangements and standards that have been developed, as well as access of Polish companies to invitations to tender organised within IDA II on the territory of the EU). The strategy of information technology implementation will also define the principles of registering, updating and publishing data and methods of data protection. It should prevent unnecessary duplication and aggregation of data, while preserving appropriate data redundancy. Ministerial systems should employ the technology permitting an exchange of data of a defined format. This will allow the construction of systems for administration based on the so-called basic systems (TERYT, PESEL, REGON and the geodesic system). Above all, the compatibility of the business-related systems which are being constructed, such as those used to register taxes and charges, including the income tax (POLTAX) and social insurance (KSI ZUS), should be ensured. Such systems should also be linked with the system used to serve the unemployed (PULS), the welfare system (POMOST) and the system of statistical information in the Central Statistic Office. It is also advisable that registers and the methods of updating those registers are standardised, and that a joint registration system in national-government and local government administration is established. It is essential that the systems which are currently under construction comply with the solutions adopted in the EU (for example, the systems for provincial Health Funds should comply with the European Health Charter). Poland should undertake efforts to join international initiatives and standardisation projects and to obtain co-financing from the EU funds. Funds for this purpose should be allocated in the national budget. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration should co-ordinate the maintenance and renewal of ICT systems in order to ensure their correct operation and uniform clearance rules (e.g. for depreciation). Plans of information technology implementation and the funds spent by the administration on relevant projects should be closely analysed by experts and published. The Ministry should also have a register of ICT projects undertaken in the state administration and co-ordinate activities in this respect. In order for such tasks to be implemented efficiently, the duties of the government department responsible for administration, listed in the Government Administration Act of 4th September 1997 (uniform text: Official Journal No. 82 of 1999, item 928, as amended) should be expanded to include those tasks. All the decisions taken by the Ministry which extend beyond the competence of one ministry should be consulted with the Council for Information Technology. In order to avoid serious breakdowns of the systems operating in the administrative offices, proper action should be taken with respect to the dangers posed by the so-called Y2K problem.

    It is imperative that work on other national sector-specific systems is undertaken or speeded up. These systems include the system for registration and management of state-owned property, the system for real-property management, the system for collecting territorial information and spatial planning, the system for tracking packages, the system for controlling air, sea, railway and road traffic, the power-management system, the system for monitoring the environment and weather forecasts, the system for collecting and processing statistical information, the system for collecting and processing business and economic information, the multimedia system for tourist and cultural information, and the system designed to serve the needs of the educational sector (cf. the chapter "Information technology education"). It is necessary to define the principles of co-operation between those systems, their maintenance and clearances between them, while abiding by the principles of prudent economy with respect to the existing infrastructure. It is essential that the rules of financing and co-using nationwide elements of the information technology infrastructure which has so far been developed separately in various sectors (telecommunications, administration, police, research, railways, power industry, banking). Appropriate forms of ownership with respect to the elements of infrastructure used to provide public services should be defined.

    The administrative procedure code should be amended to account to the principles and procedures concerning the electronic exchange of data between ministerial departments and other bodies (including businesses). Such data exchange can be provided by the modified system of Electronic Mail for Government Administration (PEAR-2) (cf. the chapter " Electronic document and commerce"), which should also ensure communication between national administration and local administration. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration should also organise training courses for the administrators of ICT systems in government administration offices on the legal provisions in the area of protecting information (including personal data) depending on the classification of such information in terms of confidentiality, data security and methods of data protection. It is also imperative that urgent action is taken aiming at establishing a safe and efficient system of national crisis management, which would also extend to local governments. In line with world-wide trends, which are reflected in Poland in the changes in the way in which the issue of protecting the population is approached, such a system should primarily secure communication during natural disasters occurring in peacetime. Such a system should not only ensure communication, but also permit access to and monitoring of information on the natural environment (e.g. chemical, biological or radioactive contamination, weather forecasting, etc.) as well as the available power resources and equipment (e.g. a database of specialist equipment).

    In order to formulate in precise terms the principles of placing public order as well as of prudent management of budgetary resources, it is also necessary - apart from amending the Public Procurement Act in the way outlined earlier in a separate chapter - to develop standard essential terms of a public order, standard official queries in respect of tenders submitted as well as sample contracts and ordering procedures for the government administration. A uniformity of procedures and required documentation will facilitate the preparation and execution of orders and control over such orders, as well as ensure that complete and valid tenders and submitted.

    As was pointed out in 1996 by the Co-ordination Council for ICT, the level of income of information technology specialists employed in the government administration is extremely uncompetitive when compared with the earnings in the private sector. This state of affairs has not improved up to the present moment. Such situation leads to a steady migration of expert personnel away from administration, as a result of which poorly qualified staff is employed instead. The aim should be to employ only properly qualified personnel. The introduction of specialisation degrees in the field of information technology should assist in this process (cf. the chapter "Information technology education"). Due to the dynamic developments in information technology, information technology specialists employed in the administration should have legal guarantees of continuing in-service training with respect to their responsibility. It is also essential that opportunities are provided for information technology specialists to be employed outside the civil service, as is the case in Spain for example, and to popularise such arrangements. Such specialists would not be employees of the offices and consequently would not enjoy the privileges and rights of civil servants, but their earnings would be calculated in accordance with the rates currently used in administrative offices. This involves developing other models of implementing and maintaining ICT systems in offices (e.g. by outsourcing system development and administration of networks and their information resources to specialist companies).

    Information and communication technology market development
    Aim: to develop modern branches of industry and enhance its innovativeness in order to improve the competitiveness of the Polish economy towards the global electronic economy
    Co-ordinator: competent minister for the economy

    At present, the growth of the ICT market in the world is stimulated by two phenomena: the convergence of sectors and globalisation. The former consists in the gradual, mutual permeation of information technology, telecommunications and media, i.e. the fields which until recently were completely autonomous. Today's periodicals are often published in computer networks and their paper editions are frequently accompanied by CD-ROMs. Computer networks may be accessed via telephone lines or cable television. Further, it is possible to transmit voice messages through computer networks. The globalisation of the market, which is possible due to the standardisation of technological advances as well as advertising and sales via ICT networks, allow small and medium-sized enterprises to reach customers on other continents, which used to be impossible. On the other hand, complex ICT and media undertakings, requiring complex infrastructure including satellites, may be successful thanks to the globality of the market which they are targeting.

    The Polish ICT market, just as other domestic markets in Europe, is too small to constitute an interesting arena for serious investments. It is only the joining of the pan-European market that creates opportunities for competitiveness on the world market. The so-called Bangemann Report states that "only the size of the internal market (of the European Union) is sufficient to obtain the necessary funding of high-efficiency trans-European ICT networks". The Polish ICT market is very small, in proportion to the country's population, compared with the domestic markets in Western Europe, but also to the markets in certain countries of Central and Eastern Europe. This results from the fact that preference used to be given for many years to other sectors of industry and from a poorly developed telecommunications infrastructure. As a result of this situation, Poland will become merely a sales market for commodities and services offered by foreign companies. Further neglect in the area of stimulating the high-technology market may adversely affect Poland's role and position in the economic system of the European Union. "Poland's economy will be a part of the market economy integrated within the European Union, which in turn will be increasingly integrated with the world economy, due to the processes of globalisation. The EU economy is progressing towards the knowledge-based economy. Poland's accession to the EU will speed up such processes in Poland".

    In order to change the current state of affairs, it is above all necessary to examine in detail the potential and the needs of the domestic ICT market. A constant monitoring of the system requires the processing and detailed analysis of data constituting basic statistical information which businesses are required to submit. Such data will allow clear economic priorities in the fields of telecommunications, information technology and electronic media to be set. "Enhanced competitiveness and innovativeness should result from the wide implementation of leading technologies, particularly in the areas of IT, telecommunications, etc., from ensuring high standards in education, and from modernising the economy and constructing a modern infrastructure". ICT investments should be viewed as a factor stimulating investments in other fields. "ICT is becoming a major engine of economic growth (...) According to the World Bank, an investment of 1 US dollar in ICT field results in an investment of 10 dollars in other branches of the economy, and an efficient telecommunications network alone increases the national product by 1%". As a result of the drop in prices of ICT products, inflation in the US in 1997 was 2.0%, whereas it would have amounted to 3.1% if this sector had been excluded. Also, the information sector seems to be immune to temporary economic crises. In 1991, the ICT market grew by 6%, even though the global gross national product fell by 3.3%. Furthermore, by creating new jobs, the growth of the ICT market can speed up and facilitate the process of restructuring the Polish heavy industry (cf. the chapter "Changes in employment structure").

    Consequently, the introduction of investment incentives for ICT enterprises which intend to found their manufacturing plants in Poland will be considered. Such enterprises can also be encouraged to invest by the establishment of the so-called technological parks. It should be ensured that the newly founded plants are not merely assembly plants in which imported components are assembled. Co-operation with other domestic companies should be promoted as well. Financial instruments should be developed to encourage investors to establish research and development centres on the territory of Poland. Such instruments have been used to create new jobs and to modernise the economy by Ireland, and more recently by India as well. Poland, whose situation is different from that of the two above-mentioned countries, can take advantage of its geopolitical location to attract foreign investors. Our country is an interesting area for European investors looking for new sales markets in the East, and for non-European investors who are seeking future access to the markets of the European Union via Poland. It is vital that better conditions are provided for financing innovative target-oriented investments as well as research and development conducted by domestic companies in order to boost their competitiveness (e.g. by developing the capital market, particularly with respect to venture capital). It appears essential that the currently existing methods of stimulating innovativeness in the industry, research and development, transfer of technologies and contacts between scientific institutions and the industry are developed and implemented more widely (e.g. by establishing research consortia). In order to provide real support in this respect, it is advisable that expenditure of the state budget in this area is increased, in the form of grants for research projects, earmarked subsidies and government-commissioned earmarked subsidies. Such activities should be paralleled by the promotion of relevant financing mechanisms and by support for training courses on how to prepare the necessary application to the State Committee for Scientific Research. Support should also be given to projects undertaken by small and medium-sized enterprises aiming at applying ICT in their products as well as for implementation work, for the purchase of research and development results, patents, licences to use inventions and designs, technological-improvement projects, etc.. It also seems advisable that prestigious as well as financially valuable prizes are introduced to be awarded to highly innovative Polish IT products.

    The Polish IT industry should be promoted abroad. For that purpose, it is vital that small and medium-sized enterprises are assisted in representing this branch in the exhibitions presented at selected international fairs, in participating in foreign trade missions, as well as in accessing publications, seminars and training courses devoted to export-related issues. Information systems dedicated to opportunities for international co-operation and export should also be supported. It seems particularly essential that support is provided to co-operation of enterprises in conducting innovative projects financed by EU schemes (e.g. the Fifth Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Presentation, and particularly Information Society Technologies programme), and that assistance is provided in seeking business partners. The completion of these tasks should be supported by the development of an electronic network for exchanging information with foreign research centres and innovative enterprises.

    It is vital that extending crediting preferences to other investments in the ICT sector is considered, as well as developing the system of loan collaterals and new, more flexible and efficient mechanisms for raising the capital of small and medium-sized enterprises. This mainly applies to software manufacturers, companies developing information resources for electronic networks and providers of ICT services, which may own relatively limited fixed assets. This is not a specifically Polish problem. The Bangemann Report states that "the financial and organisational weakness of the European manufacturing industry is our main structural problem". Special privileges should be enjoyed by software manufacture which is closely related to the Polish language and culture as well as the manufacture of standard modules which can be used in conjunction with software used by other companies. The strategy of the development of the ICT industry in Poland will be defined in a separate document which is currently being prepared by the Ministry of Economy.

    It must be noted that as far as ICT hardware is concerned, the Polish industry can be competitive only in very small market niches, and the emergence in the near future of large domestic ICT systems able to compete with US or Japanese products is rather unlikely. However, complex systems may be constructed domestically from standard components and modules. It should be considered whether it is advisable to extend the timetable for reducing customs on specific products, which has been negotiated within the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), and adopted within the framework of the World Trade Organisation, which Poland is soon to ratify, pursuant to the resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 20/2000 of 8th March 2000.

    The demonopolisation of the telecommunications sector (cf. the chapter "Universal access to information") should stimulate the growth of the market. This should in turn result in the emergence of many independent telecommunications operators and in a drop of charges for telephone voice connections and data transmission. The data-transmission networks market (including international lines operated by Polish businesses) has already been demonopolised. New businesses will be able to apply for licences to operate domestic public telephone networks after 2002. The provision of international telephone services by businesses other than Polish Telecommunications as well as other international services will be possible after 2003. Models of co-operation between operators should be developed, so that the numerousness of the operators is not a barrier to the universal use of various networks. For this purpose, the principles for clearances between operators both domestically and abroad should be developed (cf. the chapter "Universal access to information"). In the area of services provided via networks, it is essential that due balance is ensured between the freedom of speech on the one hand, and protecting the public interests and private interests of other citizens on the other (cf. the chapter "The law and offences in the area of teleinformatics") and that minors are duly protected. It is vital that mechanisms for protecting the interests of consumers are introduced.

    Computer hardware which is currently sold in Poland and is designed for general use requires safety certificates issued by the Polish Centre for Tests and Certification. Telecommunications equipment must obtain certification from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. While the necessity to confirm that such equipment is safe to use is perfectly understandable, one should aim to simplify the procedure of awarding relevant certificates. The requirements imposed on ICT equipment should comply with the requirements of the European Union. It is essential that certificates issued in other countries are mutually recognised and that laboratories performing certification tests are accredited. Furthermore, Poland should join the Agreement on Mutual Recognition (MRA) signed between the European Union and the United States. It is necessary to develop standards in the area of programming so as to permit certification in this area. This will help to determine the scope and the principles of responsibility for the operation of the system and for possible damage resulting from its malfunctioning. This concerns primarily the office software which is marketed in mass quantities and is used in business (e.g. financial and accounting systems). The Polish teleinformatics industry should be encouraged to participate in industrial consortia, the goal of which is to develop new standards. The examples of the Internet and various network protocols demonstrate that standards which are not supported by industry have no chance to exist.

    Stimulation of the ICT market development should also mean stimulation of the growth of the electronic commerce as well as the possibility of supplying software and licences for the use of software via computer networks.

    Further stimulation factor should be provided by nationwide projects focusing on those ICT areas which are by definition profitable for manufacturers or which involve substantial risk due to its innovativeness or to the costs incurred. This mainly applies to the development of information resources in the networks, multimedia products and services, educational products and products promoting Polish culture and art. Equal rights of the Polish enterprises participating in such programmes organised by the European Union should be ensured.

    Science and culture
    Aim: to ensure support of the science sector for the electronic economy and the information society, in order to take maximum advantage of the opportunities and to minimise dangers; to develop the infrastructure for science.
    Co-ordinator: competent minister for science
    Aim: to enhance the position of Polish culture in the world by means of ICT tools; to preserve cultural property and national cultural heritage.
    Co-ordinator: competent minister for culture and protection of the national cultural heritage.

    For obvious reasons, the scientific community is the groundbreaking community with respect to the ICT field and its applications. It is on the initiative of that community that a modern computer network, extending to all academic centres in the country, was constructed and various network services developed. At present, two extensive academic networks exist (the NASK the Research and Academic Computer Network, and the POL-34 network), five high performance computing centres and 22 metropolitan area networks (MAN), out of which 19 have their own network infrastructure and 18 provides services based on separate operator's licences. In 1999, the POL-34 network joined the TEN-155 trans-European academic network, which is being constructed as part of the Quantum project of the European Commission. At present, the capacity of the link is 155 Mb/s, out of which 77 Mb/s is allocated to transit to the United States. By the end of the year 2000, every academic researcher in Poland will have access to the Internet in his/her workplace. Thus, ICT networks become an ordinary and indispensable tool for academic research, regardless of the field of studies. This demonstrates that the use and maintenance of the network needs no further promotion or subsidies from the national budget. In order to ensure full competitiveness of ICT operators on the market, the State Committee for Scientific Research is instituting changes in the methods of financing the use of the networks, whereby the subsidies allocated for that purpose are being transferred to the end users, and the subsidies themselves are being phased out. It is vital that the effectiveness of using these budgetary funds by academic and research centres is constantly monitored and that methods of financing the networks are adjusted to users' needs, bearing in mind the negative American experience of privatising the academic network of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The goal is to administer the extensive networks of the academic community jointly by a consortium of academic centres. A physical or logical separation of the advance information-technology infrastructure of science (including extensive networks), which is proposed by the academic community, should be considered. This arrangement would ensure the desired quality of service and permit remote calculation and distance learning, research on new telecommunications technologies and testing new applications of networks and network services. Until international services are demonopolised, financial support from the state budget will be needed for international connections with academic networks. The capacity of such connections should be further improved. Subsidies should continue to be used to finance the development of new resources in academic networks, including specialist software (country-wide licences or software centres providing paid services in this area), access to world information services and digital libraries, as well as the creation and publication of databases in academic networks. It is also necessary to develop the procedures which would allow academic networks and high performance computing centres to make their surplus capacities available to non-academic users. Good opportunities for co-operation are provided by the PIONIER programme, which may be joined by consortia of academic institutions, national and local government administration and commercial companies. The programme focuses on ICT applications and views infrastructure as a necessary environment which is needed to implement those technologies. The extension and modernisation of such infrastructure will be a joint undertaking of the science and industry units. After financial issues have been resolved, it will be able to play the role of the proposed suprainstitutional infrastructure.

    Centres engaging in IT research are in a much worse position. Due to the meagre budget expenditure on research, which has been shrinking for many years, it has been impossible to furnish research laboratories with complete modern equipment. Well-educated Polish information-technology specialists find well paid employment in the private sector, often in foreign companies or abroad. The uncompetitive earnings in institutions of higher education result in a steady brain drain of ICT specialists and a clear generation gap. Fewer and fewer academic centres conduct research in information technology. As a result, the activities of the Polish researchers specialising in information technology are scattered all over the world and in various institutions, and consequently are not widely known; hence, the potential of the Polish information technology research community is difficult to assess.

    It is essential that a strategy of research in information technology, telecommunications and the information society is developed and that research priorities are defined. Furthermore, the principles of remunerating specialists in these areas and of co-operation with the industry should be developed. "The conventional economic theory suggests that governments should only subsidise basic research in ICT technologies. However, the experience of the past three decades demonstrates that the main innovations in the ICT area [e.g. time-divided work, ICT networks, routers, workstations, optical fibre, semi-conductors (RISC and VLSI), parallel computing], of which many belonged to applied research or research and development work, were the products of research financed by governments or government projects". Thus, it is essential that expenditure on research is increased in advanced fields such as: computer networks and dispersed information technology systems, parallel processing, computer-assisted decision-making, databases, human-computer interaction (incl. natural-language processing and speech recognition), artificial intelligence, virtual reality, bioelectronics, "artificial life", cognitive psychology, foundations of steering systems, management systems, optoelectronics, photonics, satellite-transmission systems, etc. The strategy should be followed by a number of pilot projects in selected priority fields, e.g. developing new network protocols, distance learning (cf. the chapter "Information technology education"), distance specialist medical consultations (telemedicine), etc. Furthermore, it is vital that new research projects are stimulated and that efforts are undertaken to ensure that Polish institutions gain access to international programmes and enjoy equal rights when participating in such programmes. In order to develop the strategy, it is vital that an inventory of the accomplishments of Polish information technology specialists domestically and abroad is made, that the potential of Polish institutions of higher education is assessed (in the context of the EU Fifth Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Presentation), and that assessments are made of the number of specialists in information technology trained annually, the standards of education, the degree of specialisation, and the demand of the economy. This is particularly important in the context of the high demand for information technology specialists in the United States and other highly developed countries of the world. The data on the Polish accomplishments, personnel and resources should be collected on one server, which should constitute a sort of a national server in the research on the information society area.

    It is imperative that research is initiated on the effect of using computers, television and mobile phones on human health and on the operation of other electric appliances. This concerns both electromagnetic radiation (the so-called electromagnetic compatibility; EMC) and the effect on the human mind of the so-called virtual reality and of the sociological and cultural phenomena occurring in virtual communities communicating mainly or exclusively via ICT networks. It is essential that proper work safety norms and suitable protection from radiation are developed. The standards to be developed should be compliant with European and world standards (cf. the chapter "The development of the ICT market"). Anticipatory research should be conducted in the above-mentioned areas, which will allow Poland to be better prepared for social changes, to prevent the negative effects of such changes and to reduce their social cost.

    The ICT and electronic media developments are conducive to faster dissemination of information. Due to the language and cultural barrier, such information is usually highly standardised. On the other hand, however, ICT networks constitute a completely new mode of expression, which - if skilfully used - provides the opportunity to present diverse cultures and languages, some of which are sometimes on the verge of extinction, and may result in a greater unity of the representatives of those languages and cultures, who are often dispersed all over the world, and enable them to participate comfortably in the world cultural heritage. It is vital that the development of the technological means for the spread of culture is supported, particularly of electronic media (the Internet, digital television), that favourable conditions are provided for the presence of the Polish cultural and scientific output in such media, and that Polish-language information and cultural resources in the networks as well as on magnetic and magneto-optic media are created. Naturally, it is also necessary to present Polish culture and art in other languages. Tax relief or state subsidies can be used to create resources in Polish, as long as a commercial version (not eligible for subsidies) is created in one the international languages. The computers in Polish libraries and museums should be used in compliance with the world standards, so that they are able to easily exchange data with foreign institutions.

    In this context, it is imperative that specialist terminology in the field of advanced ICT is introduced to the Polish language. It is necessary to establish a centre for specialist terminology and to give it appropriate powers by amending the Polish Language Act. Otherwise, most of the ICT equipment will not be allowed to be traded on the territory of Poland.

    Latest modification: 20th March 2001