Administration urges Senate to revisit cuts in tech

As the Senate debates the Commerce, Justice and State fiscal 2004 appropriations bill, the Bush administration is pressing lawmakers to restore funding for the Office of Technology Policy in the Commerce Department and a variety of other technology initiatives.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has recommended distributing the funds for the office to other parts of the agency. Last year, the Technology Policy Office received $9.8 million. The House allocated $7.8 million for 2004 in its version of the appropriations bill.

Through a variety of programs and outreach efforts, the office's responsibilities include promoting innovation, encouraging entrepreneurship, improving infrastructure and educating people through technology.

Administration officials, in a Statement of Administration Policy, also are threatening to recommend that the president veto the bill if it includes a provision prohibiting the Office of Justice Programs from using funds to compete federal jobs with the private sector under OMB Circular A-76. This provision and the subsequent administration veto threat have been in nearly every appropriation bill and statement of administration policy.

The administration is asking for better funding for an assortment of IT security and e-government initiatives in Commerce, and more funding for the Patent and Trademark's technology projects. The Senate allocated $1.21 billion for the PTO, and the administration requested $1.39 billion.

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