Circuit

Not a moment too soon

As Samuel Alito, the latest Supreme Court nominee, awaits his confirmation hearing, it's about time that nominees' hearings join the Digital Age.

Digital versions of past Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings are now online, albeit compressed. Because of the large file sizes, the Government Printing Office had to post each complete hearing transcript as a zipped file.

Those who listened to the hearings for Chief Justice John Roberts know how long those hearings can be. So have your computer ready to unzip files if you want to listen to hearings for justices Breyer through Rehnquist.

Or you can browse Web pages via a table of contents. Find a link to the pages on FCW.com Download's Data Call at www.fcw.com/download.

GPO will post the Alito hearings sometime soon, we assume.

Banks gravely accepts award

Marcella Banks left Hershey, Pa., with one more item in her luggage than she had arrived with: the 2005 Janice K. Mendenhall Spirit of Leadership award.

Banks, an assistant regional administrator at the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service, received the award last week at the Executive Leadership Conference.

Banks accepted the award with an unusual sentiment. "You know how they say, 'So-and-so would turn over in her grave'? Well, I hope Janice is turning over, and I hope it's a good turnover."

Banks, who has worked in the federal government for 45 years, leads GSA's Greater Southwest region. The American Council for Technology and the Industry Advisory Council give the award annually.

Veterans health e-record tops agenda

The Veterans Health Administration has received the go-ahead to brief Senate staffers on why it needs more money for My HealtheVet, the electronic health record program for veterans.

Gordon Mansfield, deputy secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, approved the effort Oct. 28 after he was briefed by VHA officials on the necessity of health informatics and why the VA must spend the money to build a better system. In a staff memo, Craig Luigart, the VHA's chief information officer, said the final product will transform the current system to match the new health care environment.

But the question is whether Congress will cough up $100 million for fiscal 2006 and allow the VA to go ahead with its plans. In such austere times, we will just have to wait and see.

Offshore but not out of sight

If you think offshore outsourcing for software and information technology services is a bad deal for the U.S. economy, think again. The IT Association of America finds just the opposite in a study performed by Global Insight for the association.

ITAA said offshore outsourcing actually increases U.S. jobs. How, you might ask? The answer is simple, said ITAA President Harris Miller.

"By driving down the costs associated with computer software and services and by opening more overseas markets to U.S. competition, global sourcing sharpens our country's competitive edge at home and abroad," Miller said in a statement on the study. "The result is more American jobs, higher wages and a faster-growing economy overall."

Global Insight is an economic analysis, forecasting and financial information company.

New flu

The pandemic flu has finally come of age with its own Web site: www.pandemicflu. gov. It's a brand-new government Web site with information about the dreaded bug and what the government is doing to prevent and potentially respond to a serious outbreak.

Got a tip? Send it to jhasson@fcw.com.

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