IRS seeks more security funding

John Reece, the chief information officer at the Internal Revenue Service, said priorities have changed in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and the tax agency is seeking more money for security.

Like other agencies, Reece said the IRS has asked the Office of Management and Budget for increased funds immediately to help secure systems at the tax agency. Congress has already approved $40 billion to fight terrorism, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson was expected to ask Congress for at least $1 billion to fight the anthrax threat that has emerged across the nation.

Although he declined to be specific, Reece said, "Our priorities have changed."

He was speaking Oct. 15 in Hershey, Pa., at the 11th annual Executive Leadership Conference of the Industry Advisory Council.

He said the money sought would be used agencywide, not just for business systems modernization — a 10-year, multibillion-dollar project to turn the IRS into a paperless agency.

Other government officials at the conference said that the terrorist attacks also have intensified their security priorities. Last week, for example, officials at the Agriculture Department were given a course on how to handle suspicious-looking mail. USDA employees now wear latex gloves as part of the procedure, according to Priscilla Carey, who is in charge of mail administration.

"Priorities have changed immensely," said K. Adair Martinez, the chief information officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs. "We're really focusing on security."

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