Kerry suggests merging Technology Administration, NTIA

Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, yesterday proposed combining two of the government's technology and telecommunications agencies. His plan details some of the federal reforms his administration would pursue.

The Massachusetts senator's strategy calls for the Commerce Department's Technology Administration to merge with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to 'promote a more efficient and effective operation, while ensuring that we move forward to bridge the digital divide.'

The idea of combining of these two agencies is not new. In February 2003 Commerce Secretary Don Evans proposed merging the departments with the e-commerce policy function of the International Trade Administration.

Congress rejected Evans' proposal during the fiscal 2004 appropriations process. Sen. Earnest Hollings (D-S.C.), the ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, State appropriations subcommittee, led the effort to reauthorize NTIA through 2008, but the bill never was passed by the full Senate.

Industry groups have supported both Evans' and Kerry's proposals.

Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, said that as technology changes, the federal government's process of dealing with it should also change. He cited voice over IP is an example of why the merger should happen. NTIA is focused on wired telecommunications, but more agencies are using VOIP and more companies are offering these services.

'The bureaucracy ought to adjust periodically to work with the technology of today,' Miller said.

The Kerry campaign, according to its Web site, also supports:

  • Combining 70 statistical agencies into one called USA Statistics

  • Restoring the governmentwide target of having one manager per 15 workers

  • Reducing the number of contractors by 100,000 over the next 10 years

  • Freezing the federal travel budget.

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