Veto may stall IRS, Customs IT

President Clinton's veto of the Treasury, Postal Service and Government

Operations bill Tuesday may stall two big information technology projects

to modernize systems at the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Customs

Service.

The legislation included $130 million to start replacing a 17-year-old

legacy system at U.S. borders and $200 million to continue building a new

electronic system at the IRS. But these projects could be held up indefinitely

if the money is not made available soon.

"We are sorry to see President Clinton take this step and hope that

it does not come back to haunt the U.S. economy and American people in the

form of export snafus, supply chain disruptions, lost market opportunities

and plant layoffs," said Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology

Association of America, referring to the customs funding.

The IRS needs an infusion of money to continue building the architecture

for IRS Prime, a 15-year project to turn a paper agency into a seamless

electronic one.

But Clinton said he was vetoing the appropriations measure because he

wanted to sign more pressing money bills, including one for education, before

he approves funding to keep government working. It is unclear how Congress

and the White House intend to work out their stalemate.

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