IRS computers may aid Afghanistan

United Nations Development Programme

The Treasury Department is adding a $200,000 request to its fiscal 2002 supplemental budget to send old Internal Revenue Service computers to Afghanistan to help track the fledgling government's finances, a spokesman said Feb. 25.

The money would be earmarked to cover transportation and technical costs as well as installation of 1,000 IRS computers that are at least two years old, according to Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols.

All data on the hard drives would be scrubbed before the computers are shipped overseas, he said.

The computers will help track the foreign aid expected to flow to Kabul as the international community rebuilds the devastated nation, according to Nichols.

He said the computers would be used as "core equipment to manage the budget of the new interim Afghan administration," as well as monitoring the government's banking transactions.

The project is one of many intended to help rebuild the war-torn country. In December 2001, the United Nations Development Programme announced it would manage a special fund to pay for startup operations of the Afghan Interim Authority.

The fund is intended to cover administrative costs, such as the acquisition of supplies and equipment for office facilities. Billions of dollars of aid is expected to stream to Kabul as part of the rebuilding effort, but Afghanistan does not have anything remotely resembling state-of-the-art computers to keep track of it.

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