News in Brief

Collecting comments, bulking up for health IT and waiting for a crisis

 Shutterstock image: global health.

Federal Register uses API to collect comments

The Government Printing Office released a feature for the online Federal Register that allows visitors to make comments on proposed rules without leaving the site.

The new tool relies on an application programming interface with the government-wide site. A button marked "submit a formal comment," which used to direct Federal Register readers off the site, now loads a comment form and submits it to the site, where it is ultimately routed to the appropriate agency.

Users of can also opt to be notified if and when an agency publishes their comments publicly. The system covers only agencies that use the site as a hub for their rulemaking dockets.

The Federal Communications Commission, which recently collected more than 1.1 million comments on its Open Internet proceeding, maintains a custom docketing system that dates back to the 1990s, and it doesn't play well with open systems. To open that data, the FCC released six XML files totaling 1.4 gigabytes with user comments on Aug. 5.

Cerner bulks up with acquisition ahead of DoD health record bid

Electronic health records giant Cerner Corp. will acquire Siemens' health IT division for $1.3 billion, with the combined company generating an estimated $4.5 billion in annual revenue. As part of the deal, Cerner and Siemens will establish a "strategic alliance" around medical devices and imaging solutions, according to a company release.

The move comes as Cerner gears up to bid on the $11 billion military electronic health record contract, which is expected to be released in the coming weeks. Cerner is partnering with Leidos and Accenture Federal Services to go after that contract. The firm will be competing against teams of IT integrators and health IT specialists, including a tie-up from IBM and leading EHR provider Epic, and one with CSC, Allscripts and HP.

Only crisis will spark re-evaluation of defense cuts, says former official

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Brett Lambert thinks only a crisis could compel Congress to reconsider sequestration-level defense spending, reports Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

"I think the only way we will get relief from sequestration, unfortunately, will be an event," the outlet quoted Lambert as saying at an Aug. 5 AFCEA acquisition conference in Washington, D.C.

Lambert was deputy assistant secretary of Defense for manufacturing and industrial base policy from August 2009 to August 2013, according to his LinkedIn bio.

More of FCW's own coverage of the 2014 AFCEA Defense Acquisition Modernization Symposium can be found here, here and here.

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