WASHINGTON – Senator Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., announced that his proposal to establish a $1 billion information technology fund has been included in the economic stimulus package offered by Democratic leaders Tuesday.
The fund, to be managed by the Office of Management and Budget, would be dedicated to projects that advance homeland security or information security – projects, for example, that would improve safety at airports, provide early detection of biological attacks, or better secure our borders.
In addition to improving homeland security, the proposal also would stimulate the flagging information technology sector, which drove the nation’s unprecedented economic growth over the past decade.
“What better use could there be for an economic stimulus package than to put it to work in the war on terrorism?” Lieberman asked. “This fund will provide a shot in the arm to the very important high tech sector. But more importantly, it will help to strengthen our homeland defenses so that Americans feel safe at home.”
The IT fund, patterned after the Y2K fund, would be administered by OMB to ensure projects are effectively managed and demonstrate measurable benefits. Among the potential uses of the fund:
?Aviation security. Funding of an “early warning detection system” that could detect potential threats at the time of booking, partially through the creation of a secure Intranet between relevant law enforcement agencies. Smart cards combined with biometrics could improve security at the time of check-in, by confirming the passenger’s identity, checking fingerprints or facial patterns against terrorist watchlists, and making sure all baggage is accounted for. Funds could also pay for more bulk explosive scanners for airports.
?Health sector: A national biological detection system could use secure software and biological sensors to provide early warning of biological incidents. The same high speed communication infrastructure could be used to provide on-line training on how to respond to chemical and biological incidents or other emergencies, and enable expert assistance through tele-medicine.
?Transportation/Shipping sectors: Technology and software could provide for better traffic management when evacuation from an urban area becomes necessary. A tracking system could monitor the movement of hazardous materials around the country. New technologies could provide real-time tracking of U.S. bound shipping containers, to allow better detection and location of high-risk shipments.
?Immigration/Secure Borders: Automatic scanning of passport photos could be tied to a national database, and smart-chips in passports and visas could authenticate the identity of the holder. A special database linking universities and the INS could immediately detect student visa violations. High-speed communications could link all border patrol, INS, and Customs networks. Remote sensors could monitor unpopulated border areas for illegal crossings.
?Information security: Better information security could ensure secure data communications between agencies, within agencies, and between federal agencies and other entities. Secure data communications with the government are especially important to critical sectors of the economy, such as transportation, banking, and energy, and to agencies involved in homeland defense, such as law enforcement, public health, and emergency preparedness and response.