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[] General Accounting Office konzentriert sich auf CIP und High-Tech,

August 23, 2002 

Watchdog agency to focus on security, technology 

By Maureen Sirhal, National Journal's Technology Daily 

The shift to an information-based economy and the new national security
priorities prompted by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have spurred a
governmental oversight body to target homeland security and the
deployment of new technology as key areas for study.

The six-year strategic plan of the General Accounting Office calls for
the agency to concentrate its efforts on analyzing the impact and
deployment of technologies and programs designed to protect the nation's
critical infrastructure.

The plan is a blueprint to support Congress as it examines trends and
issues that will affect policy over the next few years," said External
Relations Director Bernice Steinhardt, who spearheaded the strategic
report at GAO.

"The increased development and use of new technologies challenge the
government's and the Congress's ability to evaluate their potential, and
assess their effect on security, safety, privacy and equity," the plan
says. Within that context, the agency notes the growing challenges that
businesses and governing bodies face as a result of their shift online.

"We identified and sort of wove into the ... blueprint a set of major
themes that we believe are going to affect the United States and its
place in the world over the next few years," Steinhardt said. "This
year, when we updated the strategic plan, we broadened ... science and
technology" to include advances that already are or will be "significant
forces in shaping public policy."

"We think that there is a need to re-examine what the government does
and how it does it," she added. "Technology is one of the things that
has caused the need for fundamental reexamination."

Recognizing that technology is quickly becoming a key asset to the U.S.
economy and the American quality of life, GAO will bolster its efforts
to assess government programs, including education and workforce
development, that could impact the growth of the information economy and
global markets. The agency intends to analyze free-trade agreements and
how those deals are shaping U.S. industries, for example.

The plan also calls for examining the widespread interconnectivity of
the computer systems and how it might make critical infrastructures such
as telecommunications systems vulnerable. "Given the limited resources,
decision-makers must choose the investments that promise to be the most
cost-effective and targeted to address national infrastructure needs,"
the plan says.

GAO plans to assess the impact that regulations and policies may have on
critical infrastructure, and to identify and evaluate solutions for
infrastructure protection.

"We do have authority to undertake work on our own ... that allows us to
deal with issues that may not yet be on [congressional] committees'
horizons," Steinhardt said. "It allows us to start learning and building
some intellectual capital in some new, emerging areas so we can be
prepared to provide Congress with some analysis when the issue comes up

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