Anti-Terrorism Bill Could Impact Nonprofits

The "USA PATRIOT Act" (PL 107-56) could pose big problems for nonprofits, especially those that advocate changes in US foreign policy or provide social services to individuals that become targets of government investigations.

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Critical Infrastructure Information

OMB Watch is building a new website to serve as a central point of access to information on Critical Infrastructure Information.

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Frequently Asked Questions About the Federal Community Technology Centers Program

Community Technology Centers (CTCs) are increasingly emerging around the country to provide low-income, minority, and other disenfranchised individuals free or low-cost public access to technology tools and services, including trainings that may enhance employment opportunities. Federally funded research has demonstrated CTCs to be an effective community-based model, and Congress appropriated $32.5 million in FY 2000 to support CTCs. The Clinton Administration has proposed increasing the budget for CTCs in FY 2001 to $100 million. However, tight caps on discretionary spending may put CTC funding in jeopardy.

A coalition of organizations, including Alliance for Community Media, the Alliance for Technology Access, American Library Association, the Association for Community Networking, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Libraries for the Future, National Education Association, National Urban League, OMB Watch, and SeniorNet have come together to support CTCs, and encourage Congress to fund the program at $100 million in FY 2001.

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8/17/00 Letter to the Editor, Wall Street Journal

[NOTE: The following letter was submitted to, but not published by, the Wall Street Journal]

August 16, 2000

Letters to the Editor
The Wall Street Journal
200 Liberty Street
New York, NY 10281

To the Editor,

Daniel Askt's 8/9/00 letter, “My Old Computer Can Bridge the Digital Divide” completely misses the mark by trivializing the “digital divide” as a simple matter of whether one has access to a computer. It is about education, not only on how to use a computer, but also on basic literacy.

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CTCs Receive Funding Increase in Final FY 2001 Budget Agreement

In the FY 2001 budget deal reached on Friday 12/15/00, the Community Technology Centers program under the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Vocational and Adult Education ( received $65 million which will help create 650 CTCs in low-income rural and urban neighborhoods.

This is significantly lower than President Clinton's original request of $100 million which would have created 1,000 centers. It is also represents a step down from the $80 million for CTCs under the budget agreement reached in October that eventually collapsed. However, it is still twice the amount that the CTC program received under FY 2000. And last year's amount represented a more than threefold increase in CTC funding since the program's inception in 1998.

The budget figures can be found online:
[Adobe PDF format]. The line for CTCs is on page 1, item 3, section (g).

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Federal Funding for Community Technology in Jeopardy

The major Federal grant program for community technology centers may, within the next several working days, be deleted from the FY 2002 budget. That, combined with the threated reduction in the Commerce Department's TOP program, would signal a dramatic decline in government support for innovative uses of technology to connect communities and opportunities for residents of low-income communities to learn and utilize computer-related skills.

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CTCs Cited in the Presidential Race

Gov. Bush states both on his website and in a campaign Fact Sheet: (PDF file) that he, "will invest $400 million to create and maintain more than 2,000 community technology centers every year. These centers are providing such services as free Internet access, computer literacy training, and professional skills development."

Vice President Gore's , released yesterday, includes a goal of creating 2,000 Community Technology Centers in low-income neighborhoods by 2002, stating that CTCs provide hands-on training for children and adults lacking IT skills, "the people who need it most."

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CTC Appropriations in Holding Pattern

Appropriations for CTCs-- currently tagged at $80 million under VA-HUD-- have not progressed since late summer. As of this writing, the Senate has only passed 7 out of its 13 spending bills, three just made it out of committee but have yet to be voted upon, and two have not made it out of committee. More significantly, only one-- Interior appropriations-- has actually been reported out of its House-Senate conference committee. No other appropriations bill has made it to House-Senate conference yet.

VA-HUD appropriations did pass both individual chambers over the summer, and each has already appointed conferees to meet on the bill, but the conference has not yet taken place. Both House and Senate versions do call for $80 million for CTCs. Since the fiscal year ended on 9/30/01, the federal government has been operating through continuing resolutions to fund its activities, first until 10/16, then 10/23, and another will come soon, until all spending bills have been passed.

In addition, this week Congress took time out, in the wake of anthrax scares, to ensure the safety of workers in congressional buildings. So a range of deliberation has been halted until at least next week. There has been, however, a broader tension in the Senate between Democrats who want to finish up the remaining spending bills, and Republicans who want to raise the issue of stalled judicial nominees.

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U.S. Dept. of Education CTC Program Issues Request for Proposals

The U.S. Department of Education has announced a new round of grants under its Community Technology Centers program. Proposals are due July 16, 2001.

There is a reported US$32 million available for U.S. community technology centers under this program. Nearly 200 one-year grants, between US$75-300,000, are available for groups meeting the eligibility guidelines. The grants will be for one year. Cost sharing of 30 percent is required.

Eligible applicants include state and local educational agencies, tribal governments, colleges, libraries, and other public and private nonprofit or for-profit agencies. For the complete announcement, visit:

Interested applicants are also encouraged to access technical assistance information available through the America Connects Consortium. The America Connects Consortium works to provide information, training, technical assistance, public attention, and new resources to U.S. community technology centers. It attempts to find and apply the best tools, techniques, and teaching methods available, and helps to bring together community technology stakeholders across different sectors.

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Senate Votes on CTC Appropriations

On June 30, 2000, the Senate voted on its FY 2001 Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations bill, amending the House bill, which includes the federal CTC program under the Department of Education.

The bill passed 52 to 43, and included the Senate Appropriations Labor, HHS and Education Subcommittee recommendation for funding Community Technology Centers at $65 million, which is double the amount requested by in the House bill, but $35 million less than the Department of Education's request of $100 million. The next step is is for the conference committee of the House and Senate to hammer out a final version of the bill which will then go to the President for his approval or veto.

The full table showing the House and Senate Subcommittee amounts for the Department of Education programs in Adobe PDF format online:

The status of appropropriations bills in Congress is available online:

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