The circuit

They Spoke too Soon

We hear the new chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Subcommittee was none too pleased to hear complaints from the Internal Revenue Service that $128 million earmarked for its information technology modernization effort was being held up on Capitol Hill and could stall the program.

Aides to Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) said the "detail-oriented" lawmaker was just busy studying the complex request to keep modernization moving in 2001. Besides, the subcommittee "is just about the only friend the IRS has up here," said committee spokesman John Scofield, who added that IRS officials spoke too loudly and too soon about the cash-flow problem. It must be true — Congress approved the $128 million May 23.

Meanwhile, the General Services Administration has found $22.7 million to do work on the IRS' headquarters, which was built in 1936. That includes replacing the basement floor and electrical work, installing sprinkler systems and replacing outdated equipment. Work on the reinforced concrete floor, being installed by Grunley Construction, Rockville, Md., will be performed at night so IRS workers can do their jobs during the day.

A Matter of Timing

The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee had no problem with Angela Styles' qualifications during her May 17 confirmation hearing for administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. After all, she's a longtime procurement lawyer and recent detailee to GSA. But what did come up is Styles' condition: She's nine months' pregnant.

Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), the committee chairman, joked that he decided to make her first on the witness list, just in case. As of May 24, both her baby and her confirmation vote were in a state of impending arrival, so maybe the White House is hoping that the baby will arrive first and that Styles will simply pick up as administrator when she comes back from maternity leave.

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