EPA IT programs get mixed bag

Fiscal 2002 budget

President Bush's budget request for the Environmental Protection Agency provides a mixed bag for information technology programs, with some programs receiving boosts and others getting cut. The addition of a new grant program will provide $25 million to states to help develop an information exchange network.

Overall, requested funding for the EPA's goal of providing "quality environmental information," in which IT plays a major role, is up $10.9 million from fiscal 2001 levels to $189.1 million. Within that total, improvements to the EPA information infrastructure and security would decrease by $2.2 million to $16.9 million.

Funding for information integration and systems modernization would increase slightly, while the budget for overall IT management would decrease slightly.

The $25 million grant program will help states prepare to participate in the National Environmental Information Exchange Network being launched this year. The NEIEN will facilitate information sharing among the EPA, other federal agencies, regulated organizations, and state, local and tribal governments.

NEIEN will include standardized data formats and definitions as well as improved access to environmental information. According to the EPA, the network will improve environmental decision-making, improve data accuracy and ensure data security.

Bush requests no funding for the Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) program, which provides localized information on air, soil and water quality in 156 communities across the country. The program relies heavily on the World Wide Web for transferring information.

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