Week in Review

‘Tis the season for passbacks

They happen every year, and yet they receive almost no public attention: budget passbacks. The term refers to the Office of Management and Budget giving agencies their first official look at how much money they will have to spend in the next fiscal year. The process is called the passback because OMB passes back budget information.

The yearly passback occurs sometime after the Thanksgiving holiday but before the end of the year when the president’s budget proposal is largely completed. During the past several weeks, agencies have had their first look at President Bush’s vision for their agency for fiscal 2008.

Despite the importance of the passback, you will see hardly anything about it in the pages of Federal Computer Week or any other publication. The process is intensely secretive. No documents are published. Sometimes the passback document is a sketchy outline of numbers or code-like references that only those in the know can interpret. At other times, OMB doesn’t send documents at all, opting instead to call the agencies to pass back the information orally.

The rest of us will simply have to await the details, which will become public when Bush releases the administration’s budget proposal in February.

It may be the holiday season for everybody else, but for feds, it’s passback season.

Other noteworthy news

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels accepted a state panel’s recommendation to award IBM a $1 billion-plus social service eligibility system contract.… The performance of Navy shipboard satellite systems operating in the super high-frequency and extremely high-frequency bands is inadequate to support warfighting needs, according to an internal Navy message.… Tony Cira, former executive director of infrastructure operations at the Homeland Security Department, is the new chief information officer at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.… Computer and e-mail systems are off-line at the Naval War College following a network intrusion Nov. 15.… The Navy selected Robert Carey as its new CIO to replace Dave Wennergren.… A subcommittee advising the Election Assistance Commission proposed that the 2007 federal Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines include provisions that prevent paperless electronic voting machines from getting certified.… IBM won an $863 million statewide data center services contract from the Texas Department of Information Resources.… Federal agencies must do more to compete successfully with the private sector in hiring and keeping talented employees, according to a report from the George Washington University Center for Innovation in Public Service and BearingPoint.… The Marine Corps Systems Command awarded a $45.6 million contract to General Dynamics C4 Systems for Tactical Data Network Data Distribution Systems-Replacements to meet urgent operational needs in Iraq.… The Army issued a draft request for proposals for a Program Management Support Services-2 contract, which has a potential value of $925 million.… The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and European Patent Office will offer an electronic service to expedite the process for applicants seeking global patents.… The Navy dropped its more than two-year-old ban on the use of commercial wireless local-area network technology.… The Army settled with five companies that successfully protested the Information Technology Enterprise Solutions-2 Services awards and allowed the previously excluded companies to join the contract.… A new federal rule requires that all new contracts comply with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 if the contracts require contractors and subcontractors to have access to federal facilities or information systems.… Users can bypass media copy protection on copyrighted works in certain cases, according to a new ruling from the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office.

A roundup of the week’s news, complete with links to the original stories, can be found on FCW.com Download’s Week in Review at www.fcw.com/download

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