Clinton's 2001 budget targets digital government

Budget of the United States Government Fiscal Year 2001

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President Clinton's 2001 budget, released Monday, called for investing billions of dollars in information technology to help government run more smoothly and protect the data collected and stored by federal agencies.

Clinton's $1.84 trillion budget — the last of his presidency — called for increases in technology spending that mirrored inflation, and in some cases, much more. It suggested new ways the government could use the Internet to connect with the public and more efficient ways to run a digital government. It even proposed using technology to fight some of society's biggest problems, including crime, disease and illiteracy.

The budget would provide more money for research and suggested new programs, including a pilot project to give 100,000 consumers security-proof digital signatures to exchange information, such as tax returns, with the government.

In one case, Clinton requested a whopping $338 million for the Transportation Department's smart road projects — an 84 percent increase compared with the $184 million budgeted for the Intelligent Transportation systems (ITS) Initiative in fiscal 2000.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would receive $123 million, a 25 percent increase, to fight emerging infectious diseases such as the mysterious West Nile virus outbreak that hit New York last summer. Most of the increase would fund an electronic database where local health officials could share information that would let CDC spot deadly outbreaks faster.

Clinton also proposed $4 million for a new public-key infrastructure at the Justice Department that will allow Justice to accept and send secure e-mail and electronic documents, and $12 million for the General Services Administration's Office of Information Security, which provides information security solutions across government.

Overall, the budget proposal included money for:

* The Next Generation Weather Radar System.

* Enhancing the Food and Drug Administration's reporting systems for food, drugs and cosmetic problems.

* Updating the National Library of Medicine database to provide free, online biomedical information.

* Redesigning Medicare's managed care payment system.

* More money for the FBI's automated fingerprinting identification system.

* Digitizing and electronic imaging of passport applications.

However, just how much of Clinton's 2001 budget would get through Congress in an election year remains a big question.

"The president is proposing the era of big government come back with a vengeance," said Senate Budget Committee chairman Pete Domenici, (R-N.M). "This is a document designed to help Al Gore win election."

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