Finding the Best Fit

Your coverage of Sen. George Allen’s introduction of the Minority Serving Institutions Digital and Wireless Technology Opportunities Act in “Wiring Schools for Success” is very timely and significant (see Black Issues, March 10), and I hope the legislation meets with success. Every year that students attending HBCUs and minority-serving institutions go without “cutting-edge” technology infrastructure and training, the nation loses vital ground in global competitiveness and building an educated workforce.

For the purpose of your readers, I would like to clarify some of my comments from that article. Please note that my comments were intended to describe the comparative budgets for technology-related activities at the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) contrasted with the budget for technology-related activities at the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The DOC fiscal year 2005 Budget Authority for technology-related activities at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is $38 million. The entire budget in fiscal year 2005 for the Under Secretary of Technology is $6.343 million. While NTIA or the Under Secretary’s Office could bring excellent leadership to implementing the MSI Digital and Wireless Act, it could be administratively difficult for either office — in light of their size and proposed budget cuts, to administer the proposed five-year $1.2 billion program. If the program goes to DOC, the most suitable choice would probably be the National Institute of Standards and Technology, with its annual budget of over $600 million. Even there, the new program would be almost one-third of the agency’s current yearly budget.

On the other hand, the NSF’s annual budget is over $5 billion and its mission and resources are mostly dedicated to research, education and human resources, equipment, instrumentation and technology-related activities. I believe the proposed $250 million annual budget for the MSI Digital and Wireless Technology Opportunities Act could fit better within NSF’s existing mission, size and budget. That was the spirit of my remarks in the article.

Stephanie E. Myers, Principal Investigator
Networking and Connectivity: An Assessment of Historically Black Colleges and Universities



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