Digital divide program in peril
- By Colleen O'Hara
- Jan 31, 2001
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) sent a letter to the White House last week expressing
his concern about reported attempts to cut funding for a program that brings
technology to underserved areas.
In a letter to Office of Management and Budget director Mitchell Daniels,
Upton expressed his "alarm and deep dismay" regarding news reports that
funding for the Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) would be cut from
$42.5 million to $15 million next fiscal year.
TOP is a program administered by the Commerce Department that provides matching
grants to state and local governments, schools, libraries and other organizations
to help them build networks and buy technology. TOP takes aim at the digital
divide, which is the gap between those who have access to technology and
those who do not.
Last year for example, Crisis Services of North Alabama was one of the groups
to receive TOP funding. The $361,992 it received via TOP will go toward
developing HELPnet, which is a network of kiosks and workstations located
throughout the county to provide information on community services.
"Eliminating nearly two-thirds of the program's entire funding would have
a devastating effect on our efforts to ensure that innovative technology
— and the opportunity it affords — is available to all Americans," Upton
said in his letter. He is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee
on Telecommunications and the Internet.
The Wall Street Journal first published reports of the potential budget
cuts, which motivated Upton's letter. A Commerce spokesman said no final
decision had been made on the budget numbers, according to the article.