Hill OKs security research

A bill that authorizes the first steady stream of funding for cybersecurity research and education is on its way to President Bush for his signature, after the final version cleared the full Congress Nov. 12.

The Cybersecurity Research and Development Act (H.R. 3394) provides for $903 million for grants and scholarships through the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and guidance for federal agencies, among other things.

Word of the bill's authorization of funding already has spread to the academic community, said Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Science Committee and sponsor of the bill. "They know about this bill and they're gearing up," he said.

However, the $903 million is not guaranteed. Members of the House and Senate who co-sponsored the bill are talking with the appropriations committees and the Office of Management and Budget, working both sides to make sure that the money really comes through, Boehlert said.

The bill has changed since it was introduced in December 2001, but its primary purpose is still to kick-start the security community, officials said at a news conference announcing the bill's passage. But the funding will not be an instant solution, they warned.

Once the money is approved, it is to be dispensed across five years, not in one big chunk, said William Wulf, president of the National Academy of Engineering.

"We lack that basic research infrastructure in the case of cyberterrorism," he said. "The reason for that has been a very erratic funding pattern."

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