Senate stalls emergency funding

An emergency spending bill that included nearly $100 million in new funding

for information technology has stalled — and possibly died — in the Senate.

The $13 billion bill was passed last week by the House.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) refused Tuesday to schedule

a vote on the bill, which he called "bloated." Lott said through a spokesman

that he didn't see any need to pass it on an "emergency" basis, as the House

did March 29.

Among the information technology projects included in the bill:

* $45 million more in spending on "urgent cybersecurity needs" at three

nuclear weapons laboratories. The extra money would raise spending to $49

million this year. The Energy Department, which runs the labs, is under

fire for lax computer security that may have let a scientist transfer nuclear

secrets to China.

* $38.5 million to buy new computer equipment for the Agriculture Department's

Farm Service Agency county agriculture offices. Swamped with requests for

aid from farmers hit by natural disasters and low prices, the offices "are

hobbled by severely outdated computer systems," according to the Office

of Management and Budget.

* $26.6 million of unspent Year 2000 money at the Transportation Department

would have been transferred to other, unspecified accounts within DOT.

* $2.25 billion in a multiyear Year 2000 emergency fund would have been

trimmed to $2 billion, with $5.5 million of it to be transferred to Congress.

* The Office of Management and Budget requested $9 million "to jump-start"

several counter-cyberterrorism programs planned for 2001. The House did

not oblige, but OMB officials had hoped the Senate would.

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