Putting teeth in FAIR Act
Sen. Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.) continues his push to turn more government
jobs to the private sector. Thomas wrote the 1998 Federal Activities Inventory
Reform Act that requires government agencies to identify employees whose
jobs could be contracted out. But he said the Clinton administration is
manipulating the act to protect nearly half a million government workers
whose jobs could be privatized. Thomas has introduced technical amendments
he said will toughen the FAIR Act and "make sure the job is done right."
IT worker shortage relief
A bill introduced March 15 would increase the number of visas that employers
could use to hire highly trained foreign workers. The Helping to Improve
Technology and Education and Achievement Act, introduced by Reps. David
Dreier (R-Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), would temporarily increase
the cap on H-1B visas to 200,000. The current cap is 115,000 per year. The
bill also would raise the visa filing fee from $500 to $1,000. A similar
bill (S. 2045) that would raise the H-1B visa cap to 195,000 recently passed
the Senate. Another House bill (H.R. 3814) that would raise the quota to
160,000 this year was introduced March 1 and is awaiting action.
DOE lab security targeted
Rep. Tom Bliley (R-Va.) introduced a bill March 15 that would increase
inspections of information security systems at the Energy Department's nuclear
weapons laboratories. Bliley, chairman of the House Commerce Committee,
said problems were overlooked by inspectors or not adequately corrected
by plant officials. The bill would create an Office of Independent Security
Oversight within DOE to inspect the department's major nuclear weapons
sites once every 18 months.
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