Clinton budget puts IT to work in local communities

President Clinton's proposed budget for fiscal 2001 earmarks $175 million for technology to help state and local governments improve the quality of life in their communities.

The funding, part of the administration's "Livable Communities" program, includes $125 million to bolster technology initiatives in law enforcement and $50 million to help local communities improve land planning through high-tech mapping.

Vice President Al Gore launched Livable Communities last June to help state and local agencies avoid "urban sprawl," where a city grows so quickly it becomes overwhelmed with the dramatic increases in traffic, crime and land development.

The federal government aims to work with communities to exchange information and ideas about "smart" growth, in which they develop strategies for managing the changes that growth brings to a community.

With his 2001 budget, Clinton wants to put technology to work on the problems.

Clinton proposed funding three law enforcement initiatives:

    * $70 million for states to improve the quality and accessibility of criminal history records and for states to integrate their systems with FBI systems.

    * $35 million in grants to state and local government agencies to improve technology in crime laboratories.

    * $15 million to improve the ability of law enforcement to match crime scene DNA to the FBI's national DNA database.

The proposed $50 million for land planning would fund an interagency Community/Federal Information Partnership to give local agencies better access to geographic information systems technology. GIS, according to the proposal, "will help communities to make more informed, collaborative decisions about regional growth, land-use and natural resource management."

Approximately half of the money would be available as competitive, matching grants to local, regional and national non-federal agencies and organizations to develop GIS-based programs. The other half will go toward improving public access to geographic data managed by federal agencies.

For more information on the program, go www.livablecommunities.gov.

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