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Clinton's 2000 budget pours millions into civic technology

February 9, 1999
Web posted at: 11:00 a.m. EST (1600 GMT)

by Jennifer Jones and Meg Misenti


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(IDG) -- In its fiscal 2000 budget released this week, the Clinton administration pledged more than $283 billion in funding for state and local governments, up from fiscal 1999 estimates of $262 billion and $246 billion in actual spending in 1998.

In releasing the budget, the White House claimed that fiscal 2000 figures reflect a "commitment to giving state and local governments increased flexibility." About 62 percent of all state and local government grant money is used for Medicaid and other entitlement programs, 17 percent goes to capital investment projects, and the remainder is spread over areas that include education, training and social services.

In increasing funding for state and local governments, the White House underscored several priorities that rely heavily on technology spending. For example, the budget mentions efforts to promote "smart growth" among the nation's communities and adds $7 million to a federal geographic information system funding program to promote geospatial applications for better community land use.

Crime-fighting and education technology programs were also clear winners in the fiscal 2000 budget, including these areas:

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U.S. Department of Justice

The Clinton budget proposes renews DOJ's Community Oriented Policing Services program, devoting $1.28 billion to the new "21st-century policing initiative." Funded at $1.4 billion last year, COPS was created to strengthen the nation's police force by 2000, but was due to expire after that.

The proposed replacement program is aimed at "helping communities reduce crime by employing new technology and personnel." The technology centerpiece of the 21st-century program is a $350 million measure to establish a crime-fighting technology program, broken into three components:

  • $100 million to promote interoperability and data sharing among law enforcement, crime mapping development and crime analysis modeling.
  • $125 million for the development of crime-fighting technologies such as DNA analysis, crime lab improvement and upgrades to criminal history and identification record systems.
  • $125 million for improved public safety communications, an amount that is further divided as follows:

    • $80 million for the Public Safety Wireless Telecommunications Assistance Program to promote compatibility among federal, state and local law enforcement tactical radio networks.
    • $20 million for the Global Criminal Justice Information Network Initiative to create a nationwide network of criminal justice information systems.
    • $10 million for continued funding for the National Institute of Justice's Technology centers, which work with law enforcement to identify technology solutions such as digital camera systems;
    • $15 million toward advancing police communications and development of a program to develop the next-generation police patrol car.
The 21st-century program represents a net gain in terms of law enforcement technology funding, because COPS combined tech money with funding for police departments to hire civilian officers to bolster their uniformed police corps. The new program "provides law enforcement with 21st-century tools they need to fight 21st-century crimes," said Ray Fisher, associate attorney general.

U.S. Department of Education

Meanwhile, education technology spending also was increased. Overall spending levels for the Education Department went up $1.2 billion, or 3.7 percent over 1999 levels, to $34.7 billion.

Technology programs include the following:

  • The Technology Literacy Challenge Fund is funded at $450 million, $25 million more than last year, to help schools integrate technology into the curriculum and for teacher technology training. The program includes a new $30 million initiative to fund a technology teacher leader in middle schools and encourage schools to establish their own technology literacy requirements for middle school students. The fiscal 1999 program opened Jan. 12, and Education is accepting applications until March 12 (see
  • Community-based Technology Centers are funded at $65 million, a $55 million increase from 1999, to expand access to technology-based resources to low-income families. The funding will serve as start-up capital for communities looking to create technology centers in public housing, community centers and libraries. Families could use the centers to write resumes, do homework assignments, expose children to early education software as well as gain technology skills, take courses online and search for jobs.

Norris Dickard, senior policy adviser with the U.S. Education Department, said the big jump in funds is partly based on Commerce Department research that shows minorities are falling further behind in the PC ownership rates (see the report at

Applications for 1999 funds will go online in mid-April at, Dickard said.

U.S. Geologic Survey

The president's proposed budget also highlighted disaster recovery and geographic information system-related technology efforts. Specifically, the fiscal 2000 budget includes $838.5 million for the U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) - a net increase of $40.6 million over fiscal 1999 levels.

The Clinton administration designated USGS as home to the technology components of the new high-profile "Livable Communities Initiative." Vice President Al Gore is spearheading the effort, which includes a $6.7 million community grant program to help local communities develop geospatial applications to facilitate land-use decision-making.

The new emphasis on livable communities will amount to an overall increase of $10 million for the USGS National Spatial Data Infrastructure program to promote a common GIS backbone.

Disaster Information Network

The administration pledged $8 million to improve the integration and coordination of disaster information between agencies responding to natural disasters, including hurricanes and floods. Cited as critical to the network are data standards, data exchange protocols and ready source lists of information and materials providers for early responders. Last year, the effort was funded at $15 million.

U.S. Department of Commerce

The fiscal 2000 budget includes a $2 million increase for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's Telecommunications Information Infrastructure Grants program, a popular effort to promote advanced technology in underserved communities. The $2 million should be applied to applications that relate to the federal Next Generation Internet program.

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