Status check: 2006 appropriations bills almost complete

Capitol Hill is seeing its seasonal flurry of activity as Congress tries to wrap up its work on several fiscal 2006 appropriations bills that must pass so the rest of the government can get to work in the new year.

Before going home for the Thanksgiving holiday, Congress passed a second continuing resolution keeping the government open until Dec. 17. Two spending bills'the Defense bill (HR 2863) and the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education departments and related agencies bill (HR 3010)'remain unfinished heading into the last few weeks of the 109th congressional session, and more than two months into fiscal 2006.

The Defense bill is stuck in a conference committee, where lawmakers from both houses are attempting to work on differences between earlier versions that passed each chamber.

And Democrats, with help from some moderate Republicans, blocked the passage of the Labor/HHS conference report in the House.

Meanwhile, Congress wrapped up a host of appropriations bills before the Thanksgiving recess. The following chart offers a breakdown of each bill and highlights items of interest.

HR 2744

Became law Nov. 10

Highlights: Agriculture is to receive $16.5 million for the CIO's office; $110.1 million for the Common Computing Environment for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service, Rural Development agencies; $33.3 million for the national animal identification system to prevent mad cow and other disease outbreaks.


HR 2863

In conference committee

Highlights: The Senate approved $445.4 billion. The House approved $408 billion.

The Army would receive $3.3 billion for Future Combat Systems. Senate lawmakers earmarked $585.7 million for the Transformational Satellite Communications Program, while the House allocated $436.7 million. The Senate cut $236 million from the Joint Tactical Radio System program and $126 million from the Space-Based Radar initiative.

DOD is prohibited from using funds for a mission-critical or mission-essential financial management IT system that is not registered with DOD's CIO. The system also cannot receive approval, or full-rate production approval, until the CIO certifies to legislative Defense committees that the system is being developed in accordance with the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996.

The Defense secretary is required to maintain Web site information on federal contractor misconduct and to require reports on federal no-bid contracts related to Iraq construction.

Energy and Water

HR 2419

Became law Nov. 14

Highlights: The Energy Information Administration received an extra $250,000 to fund increased requirements for cybersecurity. Energy's Center for Computational Sciences is to get $30 million to speed development of a 'leadership-class' supercomputer for scientific computations'$25 million for hardware and $5 million for competitive university research grants'and get more than $605 million for the advanced simulation and computing program, with the National Nuclear Security Administration to allocate funds to the department's three weapons labs based on their workload priorities.

Homeland Security

HR 2360

Became law Oct. 18

Highlights: DHS is to receive $30.8 billion in discretionary spending. Lawmakers hedged the technology-laced bill with reporting requirements limiting the agency's ability to spend without congressional approval on large systems. Border control technologies and staff got $5.9 billion; the Coast Guard's Rescue 21, or 'Maritime 911' program, received $41 million; Customs and Border Protection's Automated Commercial Environment project got $320 million, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement $40.2 million for systems modernization.

Interior and Environment (House), Interior (Senate)

HR 2361

Became law Aug. 2

Highlights: Interior received $127.2 million for departmental management expenses, much of it for IT projects; $46.3 million for its Financial and Business Management System; can spend only $3.5 million on competitive-sourcing studies.

Labor, Health and Human Services, Education

HR 3010

Passed Senate, but House rejected conference report on Nov. 17

Highlights: Labor is to receive $29.8 million for IT; $6.2 million for new core accounting system; $13.3 million for its automated data processing systems and telecommunications.

HHS to get $1.6 billion for terrorism preparedness, including $735.4 million for state and local capacity and $79.4 million for biosurveillance; $50 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality health IT demonstration projects; $42.8 million for Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, plus $18.9 million from public health programs; $24.2 million to improve Medicare claims processing systems; $9.2 billion for Social Security Administration program funding, including for automated data processing and electronic disability claims processing.

Military Quality of Life/Veterans Affairs

HR 2528

Became law Nov. 30

Highlights: VA to receive $31.8 billion in discretionary funding; 1.2 billion for IT, but VA must first submit a plan to Congress; $50 million available for HealtheVetVistA project after financial plan submitted to Congress.

Science, Justice, Commerce (Senate) and Science, Justice, State and Commerce (House)

HR 2862

Became law Nov. 22

Highlights: Commerce is to receive $453.6 million for the Decennial Census to modernize master file and geographic and mapping systems; must notify Congress before reprogramming funds.

Agencies in the bill would be subjected to a $5 million decrease in appropriations if they do not comply with telework requirements.
State to get $69.4 million for its IT modernization program.

Justice to get $125 million for deployment of information sharing technology, with $10 million for a unified financial-management system administered by the Unified Financial Management System Executive Council, and $20 million withheld until Justice's CIO submits a plan to establish an IT investment review board.

Transportation, Treasury, Judiciary and Housing and Urban Development (Senate) and Transportation, Treasury, HUD, Judiciary and the District of Columbia

HR 3058

Became law Nov. 30

Highlights: Treasury to receive $24.4 million for automatic data processing hardware, software; $1.6 billion for IT, telecommunications modernization; $199 million for business systems.

The General Services Administration is to receive $53.7 million for governmentwide policy activities, none of which can be spent on its proposed reorganization; the E-Government Fund received $3 million.

The National Archives and Records Administration is to get $37.9 million for the Electronic Records Archive project; must submit to Congress a plan outlining expenditure of ERA funds.

The Office of Personnel Management is to get $6.9 million for the Enterprise Human Resources Integration project; $500,000 for the E-Training initiative; $1.4 million for the E-Payroll project; $1.4 million for the Human Resources Line of Business effort.

Transportation is to get $11.8 million for DOT's Office of the CIO; $50 million for DOT's new headquarters building.

Wilson P. Dizard III, Jason Miller, Mary Mosquera, Rob Thormeyer and Patience Wait contributed to this report.


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