Commerce budget rich in high-tech proposals

Budget of the United States Government Fiscal Year 2001

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The Commerce Department's fiscal 2001 budget proposal includes funds for several high-technology programs that range from increasing computer use in the home to funding the National Weather Service's modernization program.

"This year we plan to increase our strategic investments so we keep pace with modern technology," said Commerce Secretary William Daley at the department's budget briefing today. "We also want to make sure that people benefit from all this economic growth."

Commerce is requesting $175 million worth of electronic commerce initiatives, including $50 million in grants to provide low-income individuals with Internet connections and training; $23 million in grants to bring high-speed Internet access to underserved communities; and $5 million to develop interoperable e-commerce standards.

Predicting the weather and maintaining its fleet of weather satellites is another top priority for Commerce, Daley said. The department is asking for $100 million to finish the National Weather Service modernization program and to keep its weather satellites up to date. The Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System, which combines radar, satellite and sensor data on one workstation, would receive an increase of $8 million for a total of about $56 million.

Funding for other initiatives include $393 million for the Census Bureau to finish taking the national head count. The additional request is for processing the 2000 census information and for closing the 500 temporary local census offices. Commerce also asked for $6 million to rewire the Commerce Department headquarters building with optical fiber in order to become a digital department and for $13 million for security. Commerce also asked for $89 million to protect the country's electronic infrastructure from cyberterrorist attacks.

"Without a doubt, the No. 1 challenge for government in the years ahead is to deliver services more efficiently," Daley said.

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