The Circuit

Small-Biz Champion

One piece of legislation to watch when Congress returns next month is a bill that threatens the 8(a) program, which helps minority-owned small businesses gain entry into the federal procurement process. Legislation passed in March by members of the Senate Small Business Committee would remove the federal preference for the 8(a) program by placing it on par with the Historically Underutilized Business Zone program. HUBZone is designed to steer federal contracting money to businesses in areas with high unemployment and low income.

The HUBZone program was originally created by Senate Republicans to create a "race-neutral" alternative to the 8(a) program, said Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), ranking Democrat on the House Small Business Committee. "She's going to make every effort to educate members and the minority community to the destructive language in the Senate legislation," said Barbara Warner, a spokeswoman for Velazquez. "She's on the conference committee, so if the Senate language ends up in the SBA reauthorization bill," she'll do everything she can to stop it, Warner said. "Both programs have different purposes, and the 8(a) program is in danger of its own existence."

What's the Hang-up?

Federal Technology Service Commissioner Sandra Bates is stepping up the pressure for agencies to transition to the nonmandatory FTS 2001 government- wide telecommunications contract. As of July 19, only about 58 percent of the transition was complete, below the anticipated 70 percent, Bates said.

According to CIO Council meeting notes from July, Bates said orders not made by July 31 are unlikely to meet the Dec. 6 transition deadline. She asked agency CIOs to elevate the priority of issuing orders if their efforts are falling behind target dates.

18 Minutes and Then Some

Some famous recordings from the 1970s highlight the challenge of preserving government records as advances in technology render past formats obsolete. No, not 8-tracks; the Nixon tapes.

As the National Archives and Records Administration labors to design an electronic archive that can preserve government records for hundreds of years, the problem of obsolescence is already here, chief archivist John Carlin said.

"With the Nixon tapes, we literally have to search the world for parts because we're down to the last few machines that will play those tapes," Carlin said of the hundreds of hours of conversation captured between President Nixon and his staff. Although the Archives has copies on more modern cassettes, the agency is still involved in litigation over the tapes and is required to play the originals in court, he said.

Caught in the Webby

Federal Webmasters have a completely separate category of their own in this year's Webby Awards, an annual salute to the coolest sites on the Internet.

The fifth annual presentation will include first-time honors for "church" and "state" — Best Spirituality Site and Best Government and Law Site.

The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences is accepting nominations through Dec. 15 and will name the winners next summer during an over-the-top ceremony, which, of course, is being Webcast. Rules and an entry form are available at

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