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News briefs

$2 Billion Requested to Ferret Out Government Waste

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

The Office of Management and Budget is asking Congress for $2 billion this year to identify and help fix the more egregious problems of government waste -- "high-risk areas," as OMB calls them. The request outlined in the 1993 federal budget is $117 million more in watchdog money than in 1992.

For all those who track bureaucractic nomenclature, the $2 billion that OMB calls "management investments" is defined as: "the critical, marginal amounts of funding needed to ensure that the corresponding program funding is spent efficiently and effectively." Translation: how much it costs to fix the problem.

The high-risk list first appeared in 1989, after the multimillion-dollar scandal at the Department of Housing and Urban Development caught Congress, the administration and the public by surprise.

The list is meant to be a warning bell. It is culled from reports from inspectors general, the General Accounting Office, budget examiners, agency reports and the press.

Since 1989, 28 programs have worked their way off the high-risk list and 19 problem areas have been added. At the start of 1991, the list was 106 programs long. As of January 1992, it contained 99 items.

13 U.S. Firms Helped Iraq's Weapons Program, Lawmaker Says

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

Investigators have found evidence that American companies provided crucial technology for Iraq's weapons program, contradicting a classified report to Congress by the Bush administration that exonerated U.S. companies, the chairman of the House Banking Committee said Monday.

Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez, D-Texas, the committee chairman, said that his investigators had identified 13 U.S. companies that supplied equipment -- perhaps unknowingly -- for an Iraqi missile program code-named "Project 395" and that more were under scrutiny.

Gonzalez said the committee's findings contradict the previously undisclosed report that the administration sent Congress last September. The report said that U.S. companies did not contribute directly to Iraq's weapons programs, according to Gonzalez.

"The report to Congress is clearly inaccurate. In fact, numerous U.S. companies provided critical support to Iraqi weapons programs, including missiles," Gonzalez said in a letter to President Bush.

The chairman also said Secretary of State James A. Baker III had hampered his investigation by refusing to ask the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency for documents naming American companies that supplied military equipment to Iraq.

U.S. to Ease Restrictions On Diplomatic Contacts

The Washington Post

Moscow

The U.S. Embassy here, erasing a much-criticized legacy of the Cold War, will ease long-standing restrictions on contacts between diplomats and the local population that have made the mission one of the most isolated in the world.

U.S. Ambassador Robert Strauss, who has pushed for the changes since his appointment last summer, said Monday night that Secretary of State James A. Baker III signed an order "within the last two or three days" approving the new regulations. The new rules will permit U.S. diplomats to meet one-on-one with Russians and will also allow the embassy to employ Russian workers in its compound for the first time in several years.

"We're not going lax on security, but a lot of these rules just made no sense," Strauss said in response to questions on the subject. "The new rules will certainly be more progressive, more enlightened. It's a major step."

The new rules are designed to improve diplomatic contact and information-gathering in the new, cooperative world that has emerged with the end of the Soviet Union and its Communist system. Across the old union, from Bishkek to Tallinn, the United States has opened new embassies, including four this week.

Weather

Snow (Finally!)

By Yeh-Kai Tung
staff meteorologist

A storm system currently in the Great Lakes region will pass through Tuesday night bringing snow.<\p>Though it will not be as strong as originally thought, it will deposit 2-3 inches before leaving on Wednesday.<\p>Temperatures will remain slightly below normal throughout the period.

Tuesday: Clear start with increasing cloudiness in the afternoon. High 35F (2C). Winds shifting to the northeast and abating to 5-10 mph (8-16 kph).

Tuesday night: Snow starting in the evening. Low 24F (-5C). Light northerly winds. Accumulation of 2-3 inches (5-8 cm).

Wednesday: Precipitation ending in the morning with clearing in the afternoon. Winds picking up from the northwest. High 28F (-2C). Low 18F (-8C).

Thursday:<\p>Partly sunny. High 30F (-1C).