Fedwire Briefs

OMB warns of reinserting Y2K bugs

The Office of Management and Budget last week asked agencies to develop a plan that protects their Year 2000-compliant systems from any regulatory actions or information technology changes that could jeopardize fixes agencies already have made to computers.

In a memo, Jacob Lew, director of OMB, asked the heads of executive departments and agencies to delay, if possible, or find alternatives to establishing statutory responsibilities that could have an adverse effect on Year 2000 readiness.

In his memo, Lew said complying with a new or rewritten regulation often requires agencies to rewrite software code in information systems. By doing so, agencies inadvertently can introduce Year 2000 errors into systems that have been certified as Year 2000-compliant.

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HCFA taps 12 to fight fraud

The Health Care Financing Administration last week awarded 12 companies five-year contracts to help the agency stop and prevent Medicare waste, fraud and abuse.

The contractors - technology and insurance companies - will conduct audits, medical reviews and other tasks to support HCFA in improving hospitals', doctors' and other health care providers' compliance with Medicare regulations, according to a spokesman. HCFA estimates improper Medicare payments will amount to $12.6 billion this year.

The companies named to the Program Safeguard Contract, which is devoted to protecting the Medicare Trust Fund, are Aspen Systems Corp., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, Computer Sciences Corp., California Medical Review Inc., DynCorp, Electronic Data Systems Corp., Lifecare Management Partners Inc., Regence Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Utah, Reliance Safeguard Solutions, Science Applications International Corp., Tri-Centurion LLC and United Government Services.

Technology vendors on the contract might use software tools such as pattern-recognition programs that can "take a look at large volumes of data and look for patterns and anomalies" that may point to incidents of fraud, said Michael Bowers, senior vice president at SAIC.

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Security bill revamp on tap

The House Science Committee plans to make another push to update a 1989 law that requires civilian agencies to take measures to protect their computer systems.

Rep. Constance Morella (R-Md.), chairwoman of the Technology Subcommittee of the House Science Committee, said last week that a new bill could be introduced as early as this week to revamp the 10-year-old Computer Security Act. The bill is expected to closely resemble the Computer Security Enhancement Act of 1997, which passed the House last year but not the Senate.

Like the 1997 bill, the proposed legislation would tap the National Institute of Standards and Technology as the lead agency for information security.

WEB EXTRA: For the complete story, go to www.fcw.com/extra.

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Distress RFC released

The Coast Guard recently released a request for comments on a draft solicitation for the National Distress and Response System Modernization Project.

The program will upgrade the National Distress System, which allows the Coast Guard to receive maritime distress calls, coordinate search and rescue operations, and communicate with mariners. The Coast Guard will accept comments until June 30.

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NASA, SGI team up

NASA and Silicon Graphics Inc. have signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on developing supercomputer technology.

Under the terms of the agreement, SGI and NASA will collaborate on developing large-scale supercomputing applications, supercomputer operating systems and methods of minimizing the impact of low-level component failures on such computer systems, according to SGI.

Henry McDonald, director of NASA's Ames Research Center, said the supercomputers should be about four times as powerful as current supercomputers.

- IDG News Service, with additional reporting by L. Scott Tillett

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Groh moves to FTS

Dennis Groh, former director of the Defense Information Technology Procurement Organization who went on to hold key jobs at Boeing Computer Services Inc. and Computer Sciences Corp., will begin a new job next month at the General Services Administration. Groh will take on the position as deputy assistant commissioner in the Office of Service Delivery at GSA's Federal Technology Service.

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