The Circuit

The Paper Chase

The Federal Register says it needs to make more money on its print edition. The culprit: competition from its own free Web site ( Subscriptions have fallen 73 percent since the Register went online in 1993, according to a notice in...the Federal Register, of course. Last year, the public downloaded 61 million pages from the Web site, while demand for the paper copy declined. The public also captured more than 93 million documents from the online edition of the Code of Federal Regulations, another popular publication available in print for a price.

Now, the government wants to raise rates for the daily paper record from $638 to $699 a year and increase subscriptions for other paper products, including the weekly compilation of presidential documents and the CFR. The Government Printing Office is working to increase the server capacity to meet this thirst for information. But for those who prefer to read Federal Register publications in the flesh and for free, they are available at federal depository libraries.

Yen for a Mint

The U.S. Mint's success in selling coins online to the public — everything from collectible quarters to newly minted dimes — is drawing global attention.

A delegation of Japanese officials, in Washington, D.C., for a conference two weeks ago, spent an afternoon at the U.S. Mint looking at the enterprise resource planning implementation — the system that runs the Mint. The visitors included representatives from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the Kinki Nippon Tourist Co. Don't expect competition soon, but if the Japanese follow the Mint's plans, consumers could order coins online from anywhere in the world.

Smart Cards for the Masses

Want to know if smart cards will ever be inflicted on the American public? Here's how China plans to do it. The Communist nation plans to issue high-tech ID cards to its estimated 1.3 billion people that will replace existing plastic-coated paper ID cards that are easy to counterfeit, according to the official China Daily newspaper. The cards may be first issued to college students so they can apply for new loans.

The project is expected to take five years to complete, and while there is no word on who will manufacture the cards, it's a safe bet that the term "outsourcing" has not made it to the Chinese mainland.

Second Time Around

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the new chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information, is committed to holding a hearing in the near future to discuss cybersecurity efforts at the National Infrastructure Protection Center, according to Ronald Dick, the NIPC's new director.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), then chairman of the subcommittee, started to hold a hearing last month. But it ended up a paper-only hearing since senators were detained elsewhere with the tax-cut bill that same day. With the shift in Senate control to Democrats, Feinstein is now chairwoman. The two senators, who jointly commissioned the yearlong General Accounting Office review of the center, have already met with the NIPC and other participants in governmentwide security efforts.

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