Calling All Techies

The aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita has revived an old idea that the federal government maintain lists of rapid response teams comprised of private sector technical experts to help rebuild after a disaster or terrorist attack. Called the “NET Guard,” Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) originally proposed this idea as part of the legislation that created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The provision (below) was included in the final agreement, but the department has never implemented the program. Yesterday Senators Wyden and George Allen (R-VA) released a bipartisan letter calling on the department to implement this law.

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Carter-Baker Commmission gets it partly right

Update (Sept. 26) — Carter and Baker have issued a response to some of the criticism their report has received — their comments appeared in the NY Times on Sept. 23 and are available here.

As pointed out in today’s Washington Post, the Federal Commission on Election Reform (led by former president Jimmy Carter and former secretary of state James A. Baker III) issued its report today which recommends

[…] significant changes in how Americans vote, including photo IDs for all voters, verifiable paper trails for electronic voting machines and impartial administration of elections.

Here in ACM’s Policy Office, we see the Carter-Baker report as a decidedly double-edged sword:
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Barbara Simons receives UC Berkeley Lifetime Achievement Award

USACM’s Barbara Simons recently received a Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award for Lifetime Achievement from UC Berkeley. Currently she is a member of USACM’s executive committee and is co-chairing ACM’s study of statewide voter registration databases.

The full ACM release regarding the award appears below:

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Policy Makers Return to DC With Full Agenda

After a quiet August things are really picking up in Washington. Congress’ attention is squarely focused on the suffering and hardship caused by hurricane Katrina. ACM’s President Dave Patterson issued a statement to ACM members with suggestions on what the technology community can do to help.

While dealing with this disaster will likely remain Congress’ primary focus for the rest of the year, there are some key technology issues that are still pending. Among the most pressing is identity theft legislation. As we have reported, House and Senate members have introduced several competing proposals (here is a comparison of the major bills). Considering the full legislative schedule this fall, it isn’t clear whether or not these bills will slip into next year. In addition, Congress is still working on legislation to regulate spyware, transition from analog to digital television, funding for information technology research and development, and patent reform among others. The Administration is engaged on several fronts of technology policy including proposed restrictions foreign researchers access to technology and new guidelines for voting systems. We will preview or cover some of the key points on these issues as they move forward.

ACM will also be releasing two major studies sometime later this year. The first examines global job migration trends resulting from outsourcing and offshoring of IT jobs. The second outlines issues related to statewide voter registration databases. Federal law requires states to have these systems installed by first of next year.

ACM Washington Update, Vol. 9.8 (August 31, 2005)


[1] Newsletter Highlights
[2] Commerce Dept. Gets an Earful on Proposed Export Rule Changes
[3] Is the U.S. Research Environment Hostile to Foreigners?
[4] Turing Award Lecture Focuses on Internet’s Impact
[5] Pressure Building in States Against Real ID Act
[6] California Legislature Kills RFID Restrictions
[7] USACM Looks Back at FY2005
[8] Events in September
[9] About USACM

[An archive of all previous editions of Washington Update is available here.]
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