Fedwire Briefs

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

airlines want.

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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