Institute for Telecommunication Sciences / March 1978

March 28, 1978: NTIA Established

In 1978 President Carter drafted Reorganization Plan No. 1 to reduce the staff of the Executive Office by about 15%. A portion of the cuts came from eliminating the Office of Telecommunications Policy (OTP), and shifting its responsibilities to the Commerce Department. The order went into effect on March 28th, implemented by Executive Order 12046. The Executive Order only laid out the structure of Executive Office agencies. The Commerce Secretary created the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) from the Office of Telecommunications (OT). The functions transferred from OTP to Commerce included the President's authority to assign frequencies to radio stations belonging to the United States, carry out radio spectrum management, and conduct long-range spectrum planning in cooperation with the Federal Communications Commission. The reorganization also transferred functions related to telecommunications planning and the communications satellite system. ITS, which had been an institute in OT, became the research and engineering arm of NTIA. The new structure wasn’t finalized for some time. NTIA operated for 14 years on the authority of Carter’s reorganization and executive order, until Congress passed the NTIA Organization Act of 1992, which codified NTIA's authority and incorporated its organizational structure, including ITS. ITS was designated as a research office, separated from NTIA’s policy makers to protect the independence of its research. ITS is not a regulatory office, so it can work closely with technology and telecommunications companies without conflicts of interest. ITS is also authorized to enter into interagency agreements to assist other federal agencies with telecommunication issues.