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Letters to the 107th Congress

February 26, 2002

The Honorable Ernest F. Hollings
Chairman
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice,
   State and the Judiciary
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Judd Gregg
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice,
   State and the Judiciary
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman and Senator Gregg:

The Administration's proposed budget for FY 2003 calls for the elimination of funding for the Technology Opportunities Program (TOP), which is administered by the Department of Commerce. TOP provides grants to programs that demonstrate innovative uses of digital network technologies in underserved communities (i.e. rural, disabled, elderly or minority). The American Bar Association strongly urges you to oppose the elimination of funding for TOP.

Over the past several years, technology has become an integral part of education, training, commerce, entertainment, politics, business and communications. It has reached global proportions and is used for a variety of activities ranging from tracking the latest news coverage to submitting employment applications to receiving legal assistance. As a result, anyone who is (1) without access to online communications at home or work and/or (2) not at least literate in technology will be at a serious disadvantage in the 21st century economy. In today's competitive society, the ability to navigate the Internet has become a necessity rather than a luxury.

Last year, the ABA developed policy in favor of legislation designed to increase access to technology and technology skills for those in underserved communities. We are cognizant of the fact that there is a gap between those who have access to technology and/or the requisite skills to use such technology effectively and those who do not. In 2001, TOP used $42.8 million in funding to provide 74 grants to entities such as police departments, health care organizations and libraries. Thus far, the program has been successful and it will require additional funding in order to continue providing access to technology and technology skills for underserved communities.

As the world's largest voluntary professional association, with over 400,000 members, the American Bar Association urges you to oppose any elimination in funding for TOP. If we can be of further assistance, please contact me or our Legislative Counsel on this issue, Mondi Kumbula-Fraser, at (202) 662-1760.

Sincerely,

Robert D. Evans
Director, Governmental Affairs Office

107th Congress Letters Home

AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
Governmental Affairs Office
740 Fifteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
ph: 202-662-1760
fx: 202-662-1762

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