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Light Up the Night

The Capitol Dome is closer to getting illuminated in green.

[IMGCAP(1)]Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard announced on Tuesday that he has awarded a $671,000 contract to a Philadelphia-based firm to design an energy-efficient lighting scheme for the Capitol Dome.

The Lighting Practice is expected to take about three months to come up with the design plan, which then will be handed over to the Architect of the Capitol, who will select a vendor to install the lighting.

“The Dome is currently lit with lighting that is energy inefficient, generates enormous amounts of heat and requires vigilant maintenance,” Beard said in a statement. “Modernizing the Dome’s lighting will bring us in line with other landmarks, like the Jefferson Memorial, which has already transitioned to more energy efficient illumination.”

The process will need to be approved by Congressional leadership, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, according to the CAO’s office. If all goes as planned, the new lights will be installed in six months.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) expressed support in a Feb. 26 letter sent to acting Architect Stephen Ayers.

“Assuming the design is approved … we strongly encourage the installation of new lighting at the earliest possible date,” they wrote.

It isn’t known how much money the new lights will save in energy costs in the long run. The CAO noted the relighting of the Jefferson Memorial resulted in energy savings of 80 percent, with 20 percent fewer fixtures and lighting over a 30 percent greater area.

E-Harmonious Printing. Five years ago, the Government Printing Office was struggling to break even, crippled by its 19th-century ways in a 21st-century world.

But in fiscal 2007, the agency pulled in more revenue than it has in a decade, according to a recently released annual report. It is the fourth year the agency has ended in the black.

Public Printer Robert Tapella credits the success to the agency’s efforts to

transform itself into a digital agency. In 2007, the GPO was able to drastically increase its net income to almost $88 million; in fiscal 2006, that number was almost $10 million.

The e-passport program, which includes an electronic chip embedded in a normal passport, accounts for much of that jump, with production doubling, according to the report.

Now that the agency seems to be firmly on its feet, GAO officials hope to continue an ambitious plan to make federal documents digital. The program to do so, the Federal Digital System, is expected to be released this year.

Digital News. Information on the Internet may be easy to find and abundant, but it’s also fleeting and intangible. The same goes for pictures on a digital camera or the documents on a computer’s hard drive.

For years, the Library of Congress has been working to find ways to preserve the important stuff, staving off a future where historians will know more about the Stone Age than about the new millennium. And starting in March, this effort will be documented in a monthly newsletter.

Fittingly, it will be an online publication.

The newsletter will document the activities of the program, called the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program. Short descriptions will link to longer explanations.

Those interested can subscribe by visiting loc.gov, clicking on “E-mail Updates” in the left-hand corner and checking the “digital preservation” box.

I Want to Ride My Bicycle. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard are scheduled to unveil the details of a new Capitol Hill bicycle program at a press conference on Thursday.

Bicycles have been all the rage on Capitol Hill recently; last week, Blumenauer-written legislation extending certain benefits to bike commuters passed the House.

Blumenauer also introduced legislation last week that recognizes the importance of including bicycles in the national transportation system. The Congressman, who sits on the Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee, founded the Congressional Bike Caucus more than 10 years ago and rides his bike to work nearly every day. The caucus has more than 170 members.

Leadership Lessons. The Congressional Management Foundation is offering a free seminar next week designed to help chiefs of staff and staff directors improve their management skills.

The March 10 forum will help office leaders understand their strengths and weaknesses, assess their own skill levels, find ways to improve their leadership abilities and learn the crucial ways to become an outstanding chief of staff, according to the CMF Web site.

Meredith Persily Lamel, CMF’s director of training and consulting services, will facilitate the forum, which will begin at noon in Rayburn House Office Building room B-338.

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