Different bills, same topic

As House and Senate leaders were unveiling plans this month for IT-heavy bills in response to the 9/11 Commission recommendations, three other homeland security bills affecting federal IT were under consideration.

The Senate last week passed the Homeland Security Department appropriations bill. The $32 billion measure emerged from the Senate Appropriations Committee at $2.8 billion above the fiscal 2004 budget. A conference committee now must resolve differences between the House and the Senate versions.

The Senate leadership pledged to wind up the conference committee meetings in time for an early October adjournment, but several staff members said Congress would hold a lame-duck session to finish spending bills.

In the House, two bills are before the House Select Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Science and Technology. Reps. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the subcommittee's chairman, and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), its ranking minority member, introduced the bills.

One bill, HR 5068, would elevate the position of cybersecurity czar to that of an assistant secretary within the Homeland Security department's Information Assurance and Infrastructure Protection Directorate.

The second, HR 5069, would mandate changes in the Science and Technology Directorate, such as creating new programs for technology transfer and geospatial technology.

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