Commerce IT reorganization put on back burner

Commerce IT reorganization put on back burner

An administration plan to consolidate three Commerce Department technology agencies has been delayed because of the press of legislative business in Congress, a department spokeswoman said.

'It has been sent to Capitol Hill, but it has not been introduced,' said Connie Correll, spokeswoman for the department's Technology Administration. 'I think we are just waiting for the appropriations process to die down because there are so many other things going on right now.'

In July, Commerce secretary Don Evans sent the 21st Century Innovation Act to Vice President Dick Cheney, who is president of the Senate, with a request to introduce it. But neither Cheney nor any other lawmaker has sponsored the bill.

The proposal, which Evans first announced in February [see story], calls for merging the Technology Administration, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the electronic commerce functions of the International Trade Administration [see story]. The new agency would be called the Technology and Telecommunications Administration.

Legislative aides on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate Commerce Committee said they were not familiar with the proposal.

Commerce's Correll said the proposal is a 'must-do piece of legislation for the technology sector,' but conceded that 'it doesn't rise to the level of reforming Medicare or fighting the war on terrorism.'

Mike Zaneis, director of technology policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said his organization generally favors proposals to streamline government but added that his organization would want to see the details of any proposal before endorsing it.

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