Newsbriefs

Defense wins big

President Bush signed a fiscal
2008 appropriations bill approving
a $460.3 billion Defense
Department budget and extending
continuing resolutions at fiscal
2007 budget levels for most other
agencies until Dec. 14.

He also vetoed the Labor,
Health and Human Services,
Education and Related Agencies
spending bill, saying it "exceeds
the reasonable and responsible
levels for discretionary spending
that I proposed to balance the
budget by 2012."

Border security fund axed

The Defense
Appropriations bill that
Congress passed Nov. 8
did not include a provision
that proposed
spending $3 billion
for 700 miles of border
security fencing,
unmanned aerial
vehicles and ground
sensors.

The Senate passed the
amendment Oct. 3, but
during final negotiations on
the bill, House and Senate leaders
cut the provision and the funding.

"The amendment that I
offered...passed 95-1," said Sen.
Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) at a Nov.
7 press conference. "Only in
Washington would that be a mixed
signal."

Suss hires two from EDS

Suss Consulting Inc. leaders
sweet-talked a pair of EDS Corp.
veterans into joining the company's
government information
technology consulting practice.

Don Scott, most recently a
senior vice president at EDS
Government Solutions, joined
Suss as an executive consultant.
Scott is a former senior manager
of the General Services
Administration's FTS 2000
contract.

George Sibley traded in his
account executive title at EDS for
a lead consultant slot at Suss.
Sibley is a former Navy submarine
officer, and he spent much of his
tenure at EDS overseeing Navy
projects.

List needs biometric

As long as the national terrorist
watch list relies on
names rather than biometrics
to identify suspected terrorists,
it remains vulnerable to incorrect
identification, said
Leonard Boyle, director of the
Terrorist Screening Center,
during a recent congressional
hearing.

The center is working with
partner agencies to develop
ways to use biometric technology
"to better capture the true
identity of the person," he said.

But the government must
first address significant legal
and technological challenges
and privacy concerns, he
said.

Satellite talk gaining fans
More than 200 government
sites nationwide have signed
up for Mobile Satellite
Ventures LP's Satellite Mutual
Aid Radio Talkgroups, which
the company is promoting to
expand interoperable
communications.

Talk groups let mobile
satellite service subscribers
hold private discussions with
other users individually or
communicate with the entire
group. The company has
established a mutual-aid talk
group serving Alabama,
Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi
and Texas.

First-responder network
The National Public Safety
Telecommunications Council
published its recommendations
for the Federal
Communications Commission's
700 MHz broadband network
for first responders.

The council's 53-page
statement of requirements
for a network that operates
around-the-clock includes
mission-critical availability,
robustness, accessibility and
hardened infrastructures.
As TV broadcasters move to
digital TV, the 700 MHz spectrum
will be auctioned, with
some of the band made available
to first responders.

Ethics rules proposed

The Civilian Agency Acquisition Council
and the Defense Acquisition Regulations
Council jointly proposed a new rule
amending the Federal Acquisition
Regulation to require an ethical code for
contractors.

The rule, which the Justice Department
requested, would also establish internal
controls for detecting and preventing
improper conduct in contracting.

Bush to fund state, local network

The Bush administration will fund a new
National Strategy for Information Sharing
to make state and local fusion centers the
focal point for sharing terrorism-related
intelligence with nonfederal authorities.

Congressional leaders welcomed the new
strategy, which encourages the sharing of
information about all hazards and all
crimes that have national security implications.
But some privacy and civil-liberties
groups raised concerns about the sharing
and storing of information with no clear
statutory definition of terrorism.

FCC dons CAP for alert system

The Federal Communications
Commission will back the Common
Alerting Protocol for the country's nextgeneration
emergency alert system.

But it will do so only if the Homeland
Security Department endorses the standard
for exchanging messages across multiple
platforms. Several agencies, including
the U.S. Geological Survey and National
Weather Service, have adopted CAP, and
the Federal Emergency Management
Agency is testing it.

Canon, EMC say goodbye to GSA

Canon USA Inc. and EMC Corp.
dropped their General Services
Administration schedules, joining Sun
Microsystems Inc. as major companies that
couldn't reach an agreement with the
agency.

An EMC spokesman said the company
will continue to serve its government customers
through business partners and
other contract vehicles, as it has done in
the past.

But a Canon spokesman was more outspoken,
citing three price proposals the
company presented and GSA rejected. The
agency "demanded unreasonable prices,"
the spokesman said.

Senators urge visa expansion

Nineteen senators are calling for an
expansion of the Optional Practical
Training program, which offers temporary
work authorizations to foreign students.
Similar to the H-1B visa program, OPT
offers foreigners who have attended U.S.
universities a way to gain practical experience
by working at U.S. technology firms.

The expansion is a high-priority issue for
companies concerned about a severe shortage
of skilled technology workers.

Many tech employees say foreign workers
depress wages and take jobs away from
U.S. workers.

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