Stimulus has billions for IT

Broadband, Health IT, Science research could get $14 billion

The House Appropriations Committee has approved a package of at least $14 billion in federal spending for telecommunications, information technology and scientific research as part of an $825 billion economic stimulus package.

The allocations approved Jan. 15 include $6 billion for high-speed broadband networks, $2 billion for health IT and $2.5 billion for research by the National Science Foundation, according to a committee report published by Chairman David Obey, (D-Wis.). The full House and the Senate still must vote on the package.

Obey announced in a news release Jan. 15 that $20 billion would be available for health IT in the stimulus plan. However, the committee’s report calls for “$2 billion in this bill, and $20 billion overall, for health information technology.” The text of the legislation states $2 billion. Information was not immediately available as to how and when the additional $20 billion funding would be allocated.

“To save not only jobs, but money and lives, we will update and computerize our health care system to cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes and help reduce health care costs by billions of dollars each year,” the committee wrote.

The committee specified a number of smaller IT items in the bill as well, including $276 million in cybersecurity improvements at the State Department and $245 million for Farm Service Agency IT, according to the report on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Among the largest tech-related items in the package are $10 billion for science research facilities, research and instrumentation, and $6 billion to expand broadband Internet access, the committee said. Approximately $5.6 billion is allocated for rural broadband development and $350 million for broadband grants to states.

“Our nation needs to put scientists to work looking for the next great discovery, creating jobs in cutting-edge technology and make smart investments that will help businesses in every community succeed in a global economy. For every dollar invested in broadband the economy sees a ten-fold return on that investment,” the committee wrote in its report.

Major IT, telecommunications and science spending items itemized in the committee report for the bill include:

  • wireless and broadband development for unserved and underserved areas, $2.8 billion

  • some $2.8 billion for rural broadband infrastructure development
  • research and related activities at the National Science Foundation, $2.5 billion
  • some $2 billion for health IT and $1.5 billion for university research facilities
  • National Institutes of Health biomedical research, $1.5 billion; and $1 billion for some Education Department school technology investments.

The committee also approved spending $900 million for Biomedical Advanced Research and Development, Pandemic Flu and Cybersecurity; $600 million for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Satellites and Sensors; $276 million to upgrade IT for the State Department; $250 million for Statewide Data Systems for longitudinal studies of education; $200 million to repair and restore science facilities and equipment at the U.S. Geological Survey; $100 million for IT systems for Health and Human Services’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for the Women, Infants and Children program; $100 million for National Institute of Standards and Technology’s scientific and technical research and services; and $100 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Technology Innovation Program.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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