A New Database

For Federal Contracts

Businesses, government watchdog groups and private citizens will be able to gain lifetime access to a revamped database of federal government contracts later this year for a one-time fee of $2,500, a General Services Administration official said.

That is about what it cost for an annual subscription to the old Federal Procurement Data System, before GSA hired a private contractor to collect and manage the data, said David A. Drabkin, the agency's deputy chief acquisition officer.

Some researchers had chafed at reports -- which GSA officials called unfounded -- that it would cost tens of thousands of dollars to obtain a year's worth of data under the new system, designed and operated by Global Computer Enterprises of Reston. The database is an important tool for journalists and academics who use it to track the billions of tax dollars the government spends annually on deals with companies. Businesses use it to keep tabs on competitors.

Drabkin said setting up a link to the new system takes about a week. The new system begins in October, although fiscal 2004 contracting data will not be available until December, he said.

For the Record

* The Bush administration said it will give people who hunt and fish new access to 243,500 acres of lands and streams in 17 national wildlife refuges and wetlands. Hunting and fishing have long been allowed in the 95 million-acre refuge system, which includes 544 national wildlife refuges and thousands of small wetlands and other specially managed areas.

* The State Department is considering whether to reallocate $3.34 billion of an $18.4 billion package intended for public works projects in Iraq to bolster security, a State Department official said. John D. Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, proposed the reallocation in an effort to add 45,000 police, 16,000 border guards and 20 new national guard battalions of 700 to 800 troops each.

* One of eight associate directors will have to approve release of Census Bureau information about Arabs or other minorities to anti-terrorism officials, the bureau announced after revealing earlier this month that it had been reporting demographic data about Arab Americans to the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. Critics said the release of data, which the Census Bureau said included a count of U.S. residents of Arab descent in certain Zip codes, undermined the public's trust. The policy will not keep police from getting similar numbers in the future, mainly because much of it is available on the bureau's Web site. But it will let officials keep tabs on who requests information and how it is used.

* The Food and Drug Administration approved using Simplicef, an antibiotic originally designed for humans, to help treat skin infections in dogs. The FDA approval provides guidance on how much of the drug can safely be given to the canines once Simplicef is available to veterinarians this fall.

-- From News Services

and Staff Reports