Briefs

Visa bill clears Congress

Congress earlier this month passed a bill to increase the number of

high- tech H-1B visas, a move designed to ease the shortage of skilled information

technology workers.

H-1B visas are temporary visas issued to foreign workers who come to

the United States to work for a maximum of six years.

The American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act of 2000 (S. 2045)

would raise the cap on H-1B visas for each of the next three fiscal years.

Under current law, the government will issue 107,500 visas this fiscal

year, but only 65,000 in fiscal 2002. Under the new bill, it would be able

to issue 195,000 visas a year in fiscal years 2001 to 2003.

Meanwhile, the bill directs the National Science Foundation to conduct

a study of the digital divide and report to Congress within 18 months. It

also allots money to NSF to fund elementary and high school math, science

and technology programs. The bill was sent to President Clinton Oct. 5.

Guide offers IT planning tips

The federal CIO Council and the Industry Advisory Council released a

guide this month to help agencies trying to install a private-sector-style

information technology investment process.

The two organizations developed the guide, "Smart Practices in IT Capital

Planning," shortly after the Office of Management and Budget proposed revisions

to its Circular A-130, which regulates the management of information resources,

to reflect a commercial-style capital planning process.

The guide documents the practices of nine federal agencies and seven

commercial organizations, including the Education Department, the Defense

Information Systems Agency, Electronic Data Systems Corp. and Booz-Allen

& Hamilton Inc.

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