Federal Triangle

Mars time; Channel surfing; Give them grants; And the winner is...

Mars time

Scientists and researchers working on NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers program have been putting in extra-long days since the Spirit rover landed on Mars Jan. 3.

A Martian day is 39 minutes and 35 seconds longer than an Earth day. Because Spirit runs on solar power and wakes up when the sun reaches Mars each morning, NASA personnel have had to alter their daily work schedules around Spirit.

Sunrise on Mars occurs in the evening hours Eastern Standard Time here on Earth. That means NASA's staff has not only had to adjust to longer days but also they have had to do it while working nights.

To tune in to Martian time, download Mars24, a program made available by NASA that contains the

adjusted time frames.

Mars24 is available at www.giss.nasa.gov/tools/mars24.

Channel surfing

About half of all governors'

offices will be connected this year to the secure videoconferencing network operated by the Homeland Security

Department. All of the state emergency operation centers have been connected and half the governors, including those of U.S. territories, but "we just ran out of funding," DHS' chief information officer Steve Cooper told Federal Computer Week. "We will have them all connected by spring."

Give them grants

Office of Management and Budget officials this month told grant-making agencies what they have said a few times before: Use Grants.gov.

Even though the requirement has appeared a few times in various forms, agencies don't seem to have gotten the message. In a recent memo, OMB officials reminded agencies of the requirement to use the find-and-apply functions of Grants.gov and that all new fiscal 2004 planning and development funding should go toward plans to integrate the agency's grants system into the governmentwide solution by Sept. 1.

Despite the public memo posted on OMB's Web site, officials at the agency declined to elaborate, saying they could not discuss the fiscal 2005 budget until the final numbers are

determined.

And the winner is...

Know somebody who's good at procurement? General Services Administration officials are calling for nominations for the fourth annual Ida Ustad Award for Excellence in Acquisition. The winner gets $5,000.

The award recognizes a government employee whose work demonstrates the concept of a contract specialist as a business leader, according to GSA officials. Ustad, a former deputy associate administrator for acquisition policy at GSA, died of cancer in 1999.

Submit nominations by Feb. 27 at www.acqnet.gov/ida/

index.html. And remember: It's an honor just to be nominated. At least that's what the Hollywood stars say about the

Oscars.

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

NEXT STORY: Cities not getting DHS grants

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