The Circuit

What's in a Name?

The Bush administration is trying a little spin to rescue the often-maligned Health Care Financing Administration, which administers Medicare and Medicaid, the health programs for the elderly and poor, respectively. Now dubbed Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, three new business centers are in the name game — the Center for Beneficiary Choices, the Center for Medicare Management and the Center for Medicaid and State Operations. It remains to be seen if a new moniker is enough to save this agency, which has had more than its share of problems with technology, not to mention fraud.

For Women Only

For women in need comes word that the Social Security Administration is launching a new Web site, Social Security Online "For Women," at It offers basic information via links such as "new mother," "divorced spouse," "bride" and "caregiver." The site also provides information about a woman's Social Security benefits. SSA notes that women face different situations than men. On average, women earn less than men, and although they tend to live longer, they have a smaller pension and savings income.

Women are half as likely as men to have private pensions. And for those who do, they are half the size of men's. And the median 401(k) account balance for women over the age of 40 is $7,000, compared with $20,000 for men.

Fahrvergnuegen Online

Volkswagen's newest vehicle should give a boost to those techies at the Transportation Department working on the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS). VW is coming out with a new Golf model next month that is the first mass-produced car with an Internet connection. The new car, a pilot project for now, comes only in blue and is only available in Germany. But don't worry — VW expects to sell 3,000 Golf eGeneration cars that come equipped with a mini computer, mobile phone and MP3 player. The new car is exactly what ITS architects have been looking for to deliver traffic information directly to drivers. But people — including those in Congress — concerned about drivers distracted by wireless phones and other technology can't be looking forward to this.

100 Days and Counting

It's that time of year again, when agencies are flush with bucks and vendors are lining up for contracts. "There is always end-of-the-year money. The issue is who gets it," said one prominent private-sector type. This year, it's especially important, he said, because the private sector has had a tough year, and many companies are looking to the federal government to beef up their bottom line. The only question is who the winners and losers will be — construction, telecommunications or information technology?


Susan Marshall, who worked for Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, is moving to the General Services Administration where she will be policy adviser to GSA Administrator Steve Perry.

Gwen Brown, former deputy assistant secretary of Defense for health budgets and financial policy, has joined Electronic Data Systems Corp.'s Global Government Affairs office. There, she'll handle health care issues and policy and deal with Congress and agencies.

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