Defense bill funds IRS security

The Internal Revenue Service is getting an extra $16 million to secure its information systems, money tucked into the fiscal 2002 Defense appropriations bill in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Most of the funds — about $13.5 million — will be used for a backup computer recovery system that will be "designed and constructed in close coordination" with the IRS Business Systems Modernization program. But the IRS declined to comment on exactly how the money would be spent.

"Prior to Sept. 11, we had a good, workable system in place. Evaluating the situation post-Sept. 11, we determined that some improvements should be made, so money was requested," an IRS spokesman said. "Because of security issues, we cannot disclose what the changes will be."

John Reece, the IRS chief information officer, told Federal Computer Week in October that the tax agency was seeking more money for security in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Like many other agencies, he said, "Our priorities have changed."

The Business Systems Modernization is an ongoing project to convert the IRS' antiquated tax records into a database system as well as provide a wide range of electronic services for customers. The fiscal 2002 budget includes $391.6 million for the modernization program through 2004.

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