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Anthrax Answers

The General Accounting Office, Congress’ investigative arm, is moving forward with an investigation into the government’s response to the 2001 anthrax crisis. [IMGCAP(1)]

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) had requested last year that the GAO look into the matter and praised the agency.

“When this study is completed, it will better prepare all levels of government to respond should there be another attack,” Smith said in a recent press release. “This investigation is a key component in the overall process of learning lessons so mistakes made last time will not be repeated.”

In a letter to Smith, the GAO said it will examine the roles and responsibilities of agencies in developing responses to the contamination. Investigators will also address a number of concerns of Postal Service employees.

Smith has expressed concern for the disparity he saw in the government’s response to situations in Washington and elsewhere, including New Jersey.

Green Garden. A nonprofit leading fundraising efforts for the National Garden plans to meet its $14.5 million goal within the next six months.

The National Fund for the Botanic Garden, headed by Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), needs to secure $5 million in gifts and pledges, according to Jeff Lewis of the Heinz Foundation.

The garden, to be located on a 3-acre site adjacent to the Botanic Garden, is the first project authorized by Congress for construction by the Architect of the Capitol that is being financed with privately donated funds.

Lunch Rush. A portion of the newly renovated Rayburn House Office Building Cafeteria reopened to diners this week, and work will commence on the cafeteria’s south side.

Renovations began last October to improve the cafeteria’s aesthetics and efficiency. The project is scheduled for completion in January 2004. In coming months, the cafeteria’s food service area will close, although seating will remain open. A temporary restaurant is operating in the Rayburn Foyer.

Less Paperwork. The Office of Finance has added the United Parcel Service to its list of vendors that offer consolidating billing to House offices. UPS bills can now be received electronically directly from the vendor. Offices can elect for the new service by calling their financial counselor at (202) 225-7474.

— Amy Keller, Jennifer Yachnin and Suzanne Nelson

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