Lieberman Wants $1B for IT in Stimulus Package

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., has proposed that a $1 billion, three-year information technology fund be included in a Senate economic stimulus package.

The money would be spent on IT projects that will enhance homeland and information security. The proposal has a two-fold purpose: to help protect Americans against terrorism, and to help revive the high-tech sector, which had spurred record economic growth.

"Not only does it protect Americans, because the investments will be in technology that serves to improve homeland security, but it will also give a shot into the arm of the flagging high-tech sector" by increasing spending and hiring in IT, said Leslie Phillips, communications director for the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. Lieberman chairs the committee.

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., is expected to include the fund in his economic stimulus bill, which will likely be introduced this week, Phillips said.

The IT fund would be similar to the fund set up to fix computer problems before the year 2000. It would be administered by the Office of Management and Budget, which would select projects and award money to agencies based on how well the projects meet certain criteria, such as good management and measurable objectives.

The money could be spent only on projects to improve the federal government's information security systems, protect its critical infrastructure or strengthen defenses against natural and man-made threats.

For example, the IT fund might pay for an early warning detection system for airlines that would discover potential threats at the time of booking. It could also be used for a national biological detection system to provide early warning of biological incidents, or a tracking system to monitor the movement of hazardous materials around the country.

Money also could go toward improved information security to ensure secure data communications between and within agencies and between federal agencies and other entities.

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