WHAT'S NEW, Friday, 8 September 1989 Washington, DC
THE HOUSE AND SENATE REACHED AGREEMENT ON THE SUPERCOLLIDER
yesterday. A Conference Committee accepted the Senate figure of
$225M, which is $25M more than the House had voted, provided the
extra $25M be used for the first sector tunnel contract. Foreign
participation is a problem: "The conferees agree that foreign
participation in the SSC may negatively impact the development of
high technology in this country and foster development outside
the US. On the other hand, foreign contributions may make a
significant reduction in the cost of the SSC." Wrong both times!
Their "solution" is to require foreign-participation agreements
to be approved by Congress. The Committee was also concerned
about what it called, "credibility concerns associated with the
SSC cost estimate." They said the R&D accomplished this year
should enable DOE to make a more precise cost estimate.
. REAUTHORIZATION OF THE "PAPERWORK REDUCTION ACT,"
facing a 30
Sept. deadline, is the subject of intense backroom negotiations.
The PRA gives the Office of Management and Budget authority over
the collection and dissemination of government information. As
we pointed out
(WN 11 Aug 89), OMB has limited public access to
information in electronic format by directing agencies to supply
CD-ROM data without access instructions. The draft is still
changing, but a recent revision would plug this loophole by
requiring agencies to disseminate such information in "usable
electronic formats," with "available software, indexes and
documentation." At the urging of information industry lobbyists,
however, another provision was inserted requiring that, before
agencies distribute information, they decide whether other public
or private sources could do the job. This means that the public,
whose taxes paid for collecting the information, may have to pay
a private information company for the privilege of seeing it.
3. DAN QUAYLE FINISHED OFF RONALD REAGAN'S "STAR WARS" CONCEPT
Wednesday. In an interview with the Washington bureau of the LA
Times, the Vice President told his startled listeners that the
idea of an impenetrable shield was never realistic; it was, he
said, only "political jargon." Sen. Quayle, of course, was one
the plan's staunchest supporters. Now that he has freed himself
of jargon, however, he advocates "Brilliant Pebbles" instead! He
admits it would be only a partial defense, but thinks it would be
far cheaper than the Reagan plan. It is not clear what effect
his comments will have on Congress, which has not yet agreed on
an FY 90 appropriation for SDI. The episode brings to mind the
Vice President's speech to the United Negro College Fund; trying
to recall the organization's slogan, he said: "What a waste it is
to lose one's mind--or not to have a mind. How true that is."
4. OSTP UNVEILED "THE FEDERAL HIGH PERFORMANCE COMPUTING PROGRAM"
today. The $2B program, presented to Congress by Allan Bromley,
includes a national "data highway" linking research institutions.