Intercepts

$11.2 billion worth of oink, including some for photonics
That’s the total amount of pork in the fiscal 2007 Defense Appropriations bill passed by Congress last month. Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group, has identified 2,837 earmarks in the bill.

That’s enough pork to take care of every state and congressional district in the country. A superficial perusal of those earmarks tucked away in tiny type on the bill’s report shows that pork ignores politics.

For example, New York’s two Democratic senators, Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton, managed to carve $1 million — less than a rounding error — out of the $433.6 billion Defense Department budget for the National Center for Excellence in Infotonics in Rochester, N.Y.

The same pair pried $2 million from the fiscal 2006 DOD bill for the center, whose mission is to accelerate the use of photonics in computers — replacing wires with lasers, which would boost the processing power that the Interceptor needs to read PDFs of appropriations bills.

About the same time that the ink was drying on the fiscal 2007 Defense Appropriations bill, Intel announced it had developed a silicon-based laser that manufacturers could eventually use in computer chips. And it looks as though Intel did that on its own dime, not with money sucked out of DOD.

Last time we checked, the department was more than a few dollars short of being able to effectively fight a couple of wars.

I’m waiting to hear from Clinton and Schumer about the breakthroughs, besides jobs for freezing Rochesterites, that the National Center for Excellence in Infotonics has in the works now that Intel made the real breakthrough.

Get ready for some hibernation genomics
While we have one major war going on in a really hot desert, the all-Republican Alaska congressional delegation sliced out $3.5 million from the fiscal 2007 DOD budget for a hibernation genomics project at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

In case you are wondering what hibernation genomics is — and I certainly did — The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that researchers in Fairbanks will use the money to put people into a state of hibernation, slowing down their metabolism long enough so doctors can find a cure for their illness.

Now all we need is an earmark to deliver a lot of ice cubes to Iraq.

Want a radio? Go to Alaska.
As we have been reporting for the past few months, Congress has been stingy with the Army’s funding requests for Single-Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (Sincgars) radios, which are the backbone of tactical communications in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The final version of the fiscal 2007 DOD budget chopped Sincgars’ funding in half, then added extra emergency funding for a total 2007 budget line of $124.5 million. At the same time, the Alaska delegation managed to earmark $3.5 million for the Alaska Land Mobile Radio (ALMR) system under development by our pals at the Army’s Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems.

ALMR is a fine project, I’m sure, designed to provide all federal, state and local agencies in Alaska with a single radio system, which will come in handy when coordinating a response to an attack by Canadians from the Yukon Territory wanting in on the hibernation genomics project.

A West African Encore
The Defense Information Systems Agency, as I explained last week, does not want mere mortals — or pesky reporters — to see the statements of work on any of the task orders on its megabillion-dollar Encore contract because of security and sensitivity concerns. So it has curtailed Web access to those task orders.

I could buy that argument for task orders from the Maryland Procurement Office — a long way to say the National Security Agency — but what’s sensitive about a $313,000 task order to Unisys for work on development of a regional information exchange for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)?

Is DISA concerned that my access to this particular task order would cause a diplomatic rift between Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, and one of the 15 ECOWAS member states?

Covering Encore task orders with a sensitivity blanket makes no sense when you look at the many jobs on the contract, such as another Unisys task order for slightly more than $1 million for the development of the Macedonian Personnel Management Information System.

So as soon as I clear out a backlog of work, I’m going to start filing Freedom of Information Act requests for all 3,000 Encore task orders, with Macedonia and ECOWAS at the top of my list.

Intercept something? Send it to bbrewin@fcw.com.

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