IT, security funding advances in DOD bill

The House overwhelmingly approved a $289 billion defense appropriations

bill for 2001 that includes more than $250 million for information technology

programs.

The House voted 367 to 58 on Wednesday for passage of the bill, which provides

a $150 million increase for information assurance and computer network security

programs, including $36 million for hardware and software designed to monitor

the military's global networks for security breaches.

House and Senate conferees also added $3.5 billion for research and development.

Major efforts are under way within all the military services to restructure

and reorganize based on their ability to gather and disseminate information

faster than potential adversaries. That would allow U.S. forces to better

understand the battlefield situation and to make decisions more quickly.

Military officials and other experts and proponents have pushed steadily

for an increase in defense spending, citing increased deployments, funding

shortfalls and decreasing readiness. And at least one lawmaker has suggested

that the Pentagon may require even more funding in the future.

"[The defense appropriations bill] is a good start toward ensuring that

America's military can meet the challenges that lie ahead and ensure the

safety and security of all Americans well into the 21st Century," said Floyd

Spence, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. "While this bill

makes a significant contribution to reversing a decade of defense cuts,

revitalizing our military forces will take an even more aggressive and sustained

effort in the years ahead."

The Senate is expected to quickly approve the appropriations bill, and the

president has indicated he will sign it.

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