Senate stalls emergency funding
An emergency spending bill that included nearly $100 million in new
funding for information technology has stalled — and possibly died — in
the Senate. The $13 billion bill was passed late last month by the House.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) refused April 4 to schedule
a vote on the bill, which he called "bloated." Lott said through a spokes-man
that he didn't see any need to pass it on an "emergency" basis, as the House
did March 29.
Among the IT projects included in the stalled bill:
* $45 million more in spending on "urgent cybersecurity needs" at three
nuclear weapons laboratories. The extra money would raise spending to $49
million this year.
* $38.5 million to buy new computer equipment for the Agriculture Department's
Farm Service Agency county agriculture offices.
* $26.6 million of unspent Year 2000 money at the Transportation Department
to be transferred to other, unspecified accounts within DOT.
* $2.25 billion in a multiyear Year 2000 emergency fund to be trimmed
to $2 billion, with $5.5 million of it to be transferred to Congress.
The Office of Management and Budget requested $9 million "to jump-start"
several counter-cyberterrorism programs planned for 2001. The House did
not oblige, but OMB officials had hoped the Senate would.
FAA system on GAO's radar screen
As the Federal Aviation Administration awaits the results of an independent
panel's assessment of safety prob-lems with its satellite-based navigation
system, Congress also is taking a closer look.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's
Transportation Subcommittee, has requested a General Accounting Office report
on the FAA's Wide-Area Augmentation System.
Earlier this year, the FAA discovered problems with the ground- and
space-based system's ability to prove it could catch errors in the signals
received from Global Positioning System satellites. A panel of experts assembled
by the FAA is helping prime contractor Raytheon Co. develop new algorithms
for the software.
According to a government source, a GAO report due in early May will
assess the impact of the problem on an investment analysis the FAA completed
in September 1998. The analysis recommended using satellite navigation with
augmentation systems and examining whether radio-navigation systems such
as Loran-C and Eurofix could provide the precision landing capabilities
Weather satellites to deliver better data
A tri-agency program office led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration is preparing to test new weather satellite technology in
fiscal 2005 to help improve forecasts.
NASA plans to launch a satellite that will test three new technologies
designed to help monitor the biology of the ocean, study how much of the
sun's energy is absorbed or reflected by the Earth, and collect additional
temperature and humidity data.
The enhanced capabilities, in combination with better numerical models
for processing the data, should improve the accuracy of the current three-
to five-day weather forecasts from around 80 percent to better than 90 percent,
said Ghassem Asrar, associate administrator for Earth sciences at NASA,
at a briefing last week. In addition, it should extend the current three-
to five-day forecasts out to seven to 10 days, he said.
Satellite data makes up 84 percent of the information that flows into
numerical models, which are the basis for making weather forecasts.
The first of these converged weather satellites is expected to be available
for launch toward the end of fiscal 2008.
Wang's Hogan dies of cancer complications
James Hogan, president of Wang Government Services Inc., died last week
of complications from recently diagnosed kidney cancer.
Hogan, 57, first joined Wang in 1990 as a senior vice president after
spending 25 years with General Electric Co., where in 1988 he was named
vice president and general manager of GE's Audio and Communications Division
for the Americas.
Hogan was a member of the board of directors for the Armed Forces Communications
and Electronics Association and the United Service Organizations.
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