Fedwire Briefs

DOD signs software testing deal

The Defense Department last week signed a deal for specialized packages of software to help test mission-critical applications for quality and potential Year 2000 problems.

The $3.9 million deal with McCabe & Associates Inc. for 1,400 licenses covering the company's quality assurance, testing, re-engineering and Year 2000 software analysis products has established the first DOD-wide standard for software testing and quality analysis and marks the beginning of DOD's full-fledged effort to reduce the number of defects in its mission-critical applications.

While not an enterprise license arrangement, the deal signifies the continuation of DOD's enterprise software buying strategy, offering DOD a large quantity of licenses for a broad range of testing products at discount prices.

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Commerce, Labor pick MCI

The Commerce Department last week announced that it has selected MCI WorldCom Government Markets to provide long-distance voice and data services through the General Services Administration's FTS 2001 contract. An MCI spokesman said Commerce should provide about $100 million worth of business over the eight-year contract.

Commerce currently uses long-distance services provided by AT&T under GSA's FTS 2000 contract, the predecessor of FTS 2001.

In addition, Lydia Hylind, the FTS 2000 coordinator at the Labor Department, said Labor also will choose MCI for FTS 2001 voice, Asynchronous Transfer Mode and frame-relay service.

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NCIC 2000 hits street

After years of escalating costs and congressional criticism, the FBI last week rolled out its new crime-fighting computer system, the National Crime Information Center 2000.

Like its predecessor, which began operation in 1967, NCIC 2000 enables nearly 80,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide to search 17 databases that include information on stolen guns, deported felons, missing persons and stolen vehicles. But NCIC 2000 also adds other capabilities, such as letting police use special hardware and software to transmit fingerprints from squad cars to confirm individuals' identities and to learn if those people are wanted for other crimes.

About a decade ago, the FBI estimated NCIC 2000 would cost about $80 million, but costs rose to $183.2 million, FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer said.

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Rep. George Brown Jr. dies

Rep. George E. Brown Jr. (D-Calif.), ranking minority member of the House Science Committee, died late last week after he was hospitalized for treatment of an infection.

In early May, Brown, 79, had heart valve replacement surgery but was readmitted to Bethesda Naval Hospital in mid-June for treatment of an infection that had developed after the surgery.

"George was a forceful and tireless advocate for science," said committee chairman Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) in a prepared statement.

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Freeze could stall ASCI

A provision in a proposed funding bill for the Energy Department would freeze funds for the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative if legislation to restructure DOE's nuclear weapons programs is not enacted by June 30, 2000.

The measure, approved by the House Appropriations Committee last week, would delay one-fourth of DOE's budget for defense programs, including ASCI, until after reform measures become law. The panel has funded ASCI at $316 million in fiscal 2000.

A spokesman for Rep. Ron Packard (R-Calif.), chairman of the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, which crafted the bill, said that if the freeze takes effect, any ASCI money that has not been spent will be held up.A DOE spokesman said Energy Secretary Bill Richardson expects restructuring legislation to pass this year, preventing the provision from taking effect.

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ATC techs raise alarm

Technicians who repair and install air traffic control equipment handed out leaflets at 21 airports nationwide July 16 asking air travelers to complain to Congress about the Federal Aviation Administration's handling of its modernization programs.

The FAA has rushed upgrades of equipment without sufficient testing or training, resulting in equipment outages, according to the union representing the technicians.

The FAA maintains that the technicians are trying to influence contract negotiations and that safety has never been compromised.

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