Senate OKs NET Guard volunteers

The Senate unanimously passed a bill July 18 that would make it easier for scientists and high-tech professionals to volunteer their time to the federal government in the war against terrorism.

The Science and Technology Emergency Mobilization Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and George Allen (R-Va.) would open the door to science and technology experts to lend their expertise, equipment and ideas to prevent acts of terrorism or help in the event of another attack.

"Just as John F. Kennedy mobilized a generation of young people to service in the 1960s, today the Senate calls a new generation of technology experts and entrepreneurs to fight terrorism," Wyden said. "I firmly believe that America's best hope for terrorism response and prevention lies in technology and the people who know how to apply it for the public good."

The bill calls for the creation of a National Emergency Technology Guard, or NET Guard, teams of volunteers with technology and science expertise, organized in advance and available to be mobilized on short notice.

Wyden proposed the bill after talking to constituents in Oregon and discovering that some of them wanted to volunteer their services to help in the recovery efforts after Sept. 11 but were turned away because they didn't have security clearances. Intel Corp., a major company in Oregon, was one of the companies that wanted to offer its services, according to Wyden.

The bill now goes to the House, where Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Science Committee, has agreed to push the legislation.

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