Senate passes multidepartment spending bill

Senators last week passed an appropriations bill that would authorize $52.8 million for the governmentwide management of property assets, including IT services, and grant $5 million for electronic government initiatives.

H.R. 3058, the Transportation, Treasury, Judiciary, Housing and Urban Development and related agencies appropriations bill for fiscal 2006, also exempts commercial IT contracting from Buy American regulations that encourage federal contractors to select U.S. firms.

The Senate passed the legislation overwhelmingly last week and now must go to a conference committee to work out the differences with the House version. No conference date has been named, and only the Senate has named conferees. The House passed its version in late June.

If passed by both houses, it will be sent to the White House for the president's signature. The administration has threatened that it would recommend the president veto the bill if it includes certain measures that would change new procurement rules.

In the Senate bill, lawmakers allocated Treasury $11.7 billion, $485 million more than last year and $49.4 million more than the budget request. The bill provides Treasury $24.4 million for development and acquisition of automatic data processing equipment, software and services.

IRS absorbs most of Treasury’s funding, $10.7 billion, with $4.1 billion targeted for tax processing assistance and management, and $1.6 billion for IT operations. IRS projects include the modification and enhancement of existing systems and processes, changes in systemic functionality, and establishment of bridges between current production systems and the new architecture being developed as part of the business systems modernization.

The Senate passed an amendment to HUD appropriations that prohibits the use of funds until the department reports specific actions it is taking to estimate improper payments in the community development block grant program.

Also, the legislation states that no money for the General Services Administration can be used for GSA’s reorganization effort—the creation of the Federal Acquisition Service by merging the Federal Supply and Federal Technology services—until the full Congress approves the plan.

For the National Archives and Records Administration, the bill authorizes $38.9 million for its landmark Electronic Records Archive, a system to be created by Lockheed Martin Corp. that will make all government records—past, present and future—available in all document formats.

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