Federal Bytes

For the record

Just how much money did the Internal Revenue Service waste on Tax Systems Modernization?For months the agency has asserted that the amount is not nearly as much as the $4 billion that critics claim and that much of the money already spent on the program will result in useful systems improvements.

So at a hearing on the IRS budget last week Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) who for years has tried to put the best face on the agency's problems decided he wanted to set the record straight. "Has any of this money been wasted?" he asked.

IRS chief information officer Art Gross didn't exactly say that any of $3.3 billion the IRS has spent on TSM was for naught.

But he did note that $400 million went to "noncontinuing" projects from which the agency could not salvage any benefits.

Another $200 million worth of projects was canceled for various reasons but these expenditures on "infrastructure " would benefit other initiatives.

Black Prince secure the uplink

Among the military tools available to warriors of the Middle Ages were the crossbow catapult broad sword and satellites. Satellites? Yes according to Hughes Space and Communications Co. which recently issued a press release via Business Wire with the headline "Hughes commercial satellites near 850 years of service."

Although the headline was intended to signify the cumulative years that Hughes' satellites have spent in orbit it also seems to suggest - at first glance - that the birth of the satellite was around 1147. It's too bad for medieval warfighters that satellites weren't around a Hughes satellite would have come in handy for military strategists during the crusades or later the Hundred Years' War. Today Hughes is a major supplier of space systems to the military.

Not a morning person

There are many indicators of the perceived severity of the Year 2000 problem: the near-weekly conferences numerous product announcements and endless congressional hearings. And now comes Sally Katzen administrator of the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs who contributed the latest measure: her 8:45 a.m. keynote speech at last week's Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's Year 2000 conference. "I don't do mornings for unimportant events " she said.

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