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Bush Signs e-Government Act

President George W. Bush this morning signed the Electronic Government Act of 2002, a bill that earmarks $345 million over the next four years for federal technology projects, according to the White House Press Office.

The measure, which was passed by Congress last month, establishes an e-Government Fund that starts at $45 million in 2003 and ramps up to $150 million in 2006.

A new agency, the Office of Electronic Government, will oversee the account, placing a priority on inter-agency projects with government-wide applications. It will be lead by a presidential appointee and operate under the auspices of the Office of Management and Budget.

The legislation was first introduced by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D.Conn.) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.). It passed the Senate by unanimous consent, but changes made in the House version, including reducing the overall funding levels, produced a compromise version.

In announcing the proposal, Lieberman laid out the problem with Washington's current approach: "At this early stage, e-government is a loose knit mix of ideas, projects, and affiliations -- often uncoordinated, sometimes overlapping, and too frequently redundant in their costs," he said.

Other provisions of the bill include:

The new legislation also:

  • Authorizes funding for improvement of the federal Internet portal, Firstgov.gov, so that on-line government information and services are organized "according to citizen needs, not agency jurisdiction."
  • Requires regulatory agencies to conduct administrative rule-makings on the Internet, and federal courts to post court information and judicial opinions on their Web sites
  • Allows agencies, scientists, policy makers and the public to have access over the Internet to non-sensitive information about where federal funds for scientific research are spent
  • Improves recruitment and training for federal IT professionals<'li>
  • Establishes "significant new privacy protections" for personally information kept by the government.