Commerce aims to merge NTIA, tech division

The Commerce Department wants to combine its tech and telecom agencies into one Technology and Telecommunications Administration.

Commerce Secretary Don Evans has asked Congress to approve consolidation of the Technology Administration and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The Technology Administration is a focal point for federal technology promotion and policies that affect the tech industry, and includes the National Institute of Standards and Technology. NTIA, a smaller bureau, is mostly focused on domestic and international telecommunications issues, including allocation of the radio spectrum.

Merging the two organizations would make management easier, and would reflect the reality that technology and telecom "are operating together, not separately," Evans said in a statement.

Although the department doesn't expect layoffs, the move will result in the loss of five full-time jobs through attrition and possible buyouts, officials said, adding that it will not affect the Commerce Department's budget. Department officials hinted that more jobs might disappear after the consolidation.

Industry trade groups backing the proposed reorganization include the American Electronics Association, the Information Technology Association of America and the US Telecom Association, Commerce officials said.

Commerce officials also want the International Trade Administration's five-person e-commerce policy staff to be in the new tech and telecom agency.

A spokesman for the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee said the chairman, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was reviewing the Commerce Department's proposal and had no immediate reaction to it.

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