A computer for every fed

The most recent effort to put a computer in nearly every federal worker's

hands will happen today.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) plans to introduce the Federal Workforce

Digital Access Act, which would provide a free computer and Internet access

to up to 1.8 million federal employees who complete at least one year of

service.

The bill reflects similar initiatives planned by the Navy and the Army,

and initiatives launched earlier this year by Ford Motor Co., Intel Corp.

and Delta Air Lines.

The bill was designed to keep the federal work force on the cutting

edge of the information revolution.

"One of the things I realized after I got here is that anyone who was

not competent with regard to computers and the Internet couldn't get a job

in my office," said Cummings, the ranking minority member on the Government

Reform Committee's Civil Service subcommittee. "So many transactions are

taking place with computers, and it was very clear to me that we must have

a work force that is keeping up with the rest of society."

In general, information technology experts say, giving federal employees

a personal laptop has merit. The program would make the government a model

employer and prepare the work force to deliver services electronically.

However, important details such as funding, technical support, information

security and the question of ownership would need to be resolved if the

program has any chance of succeeding.

For details, read this week's cover story from Federal Computer

Week by clicking on the link at top.

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