Legislation makes progress

Before Congressional members headed home on Oct. 18 to campaign for re-election, they moved forward several tech-related bills. Among them:

* The House and Senate reached agreement on a terrorism insurance package. Under it, the government would cover 90 percent of all terrorism losses after insurance companies pay an initial $10 billion. Not in the bill: a proposal to limit the liability of high-tech companies providing security solutions to the government. Supporters hope to make it part of the bill that would create a Homeland Security Department.

* On Oct. 16, the Senate approved a $3.9 billion bill to buy new voting machines, create statewide computerized voter registration systems, better train poll workers and take additional steps to prevent voting fraud. The House passed the same legislation a week earlier, and President Bush said he would sign it.

* A tentative deal has been reached on an e-government bill that calls for creating a four-year, $345 million e-government fund. Lawmakers are expected to vote on it after the November elections. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), the chief House sponsor, said last week that a tentative agreement had been reached with Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) on creating an Office of Electronic Government within the Office of Management and Budget. The Senate has passed Lieberman's bill. Both bills call for share-in-savings deals in which contractors get paid for their work out of the money saved, but differences must be reconciled.

* Lawmakers approved a measure allowing the Navy to extend the Navy Marine Corps Intranet contract with EDS by two years. Navy officials have been concerned that they would have to begin renegotiating the contract soon after the enterprisewide network was rolled out. The provision allows the Navy to use the network before the two sides begin talks.

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