Federal Government Information Technology Policy: Selected Issues

Federal government information technology (IT) is an important part of the federal mission to serve Americans. Federal government IT policy can improve how services and information are provided to citizens, increase the timeliness and quality of federal agencies' responses, and save federal tax dollars by improving government efficiency. Protection and security of individuals' privacy, as well as making appropriate federal data more transparent and available for its citizens, are the ultimate goals of federal agency IT policies. But there are some questions and concerns regarding federal IT policy as well. Are the programs that support federal policy appropriately funded and administered? Is enough being done to safeguard and protect citizens from both immediate and long-term threats? What is the proper federal role for enhancing all forms of IT applications and development? Federal policymakers grapple with these questions and others as they consider establishing, reviewing, and sometimes revising the federal government's IT policy. Among the many federal IT policy issues now before congressional policymakers, the following are likely to continue to receive attention. They are: the size and scope of federal government IT spending, the year 2000 computer problem, federal encryption policies, information infrastructure and national security, implementation of both the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) and the Clinger-Cohen Act, the role of the federal government with regard to medical records and privacy, electronic commerce, domain names, and the federal role in the growth and the future of the Internet. This report provides a brief summary of each issue, and lists more detailed CRS reports after each section.