AWIPS wins, Census loses in fiscal 2000 Commerce budget

The House and Senate last week approved the conference report on a bill that would offer critical funding for a high-profile information technology program at the Commerce Department. But the funds fall far short of President Clinton's budget request for the Census Bureau.

The report on the fiscal 2000 appropriations bill that provides funding for Commerce, the Justice Department, State Department and the judiciary outlines an agreement that calls for $16 million to initiate development on the latest software version, Build 5.0, of the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System. AWIPS integrates radar, satellite and sensor data on one workstation and replaces older systems that require forecasters to look at several workstations to view the same information.

The conferees also asked the National Weather Service to provide quarterly reports on the status of the project, including progress in meeting milestones, funds expended to date, expected overall cost of the program and problems encountered.

The bill also provides $4.47 billion in emergency funding for the Decennial Census, which is $3.4 billion more than fiscal 1999's budget and $11 million below the president's request. Of that money, $3.4 billion is for field data collection and support systems and $4.7 million is for automated data processing and telecommunications support.

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