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University of Alaska Computer Center May Be Victim of Budget Struggles

For a variety of reasons the Democratic controlled current Congress has yet to pass any spending bills. The government is operating under a Continuing Resolution now through the 18th of this month while they attempt to work out some sort of omnibus spending bill. The new Republican House and stronger Senate are not supporting the notion of passing one bill rather then the eleven or so required normally.

Because of this a line in the Senate Defense Appropriations bill inserted by Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) will not be passed. This would prevent the Defense Department from spending any money closing the six super computer centers it funds at college campuses across the country including one at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The Department had wanted to stop funding some of these including this one when their current contract expires at the end of next May.

The loss of Defense funds for this center would basically end the centers work as over ninety percent of their money comes from DoD.

The Department is under pressure to make its spending more efficient both from Secretary of Defense Gates as well as outside groups including some in Congress. If they feel the next contract will not have enough work for the six centers then some will receive less or no funding. The Defense Department did say the center will be allowed to bid on future work but that will not be soon enough.

Over the last ten years the U.S. has invested a lot of tax dollars in not only the equipping of troops for and operations in Iraq and Afghanistan but also in new capabilities and facilities. As the budget retrenches some of that investment will have to end or be adjusted and other places will begin to feel the effect as Fairbanks seems to be.

The current political situation only adds to the problems and the next Congress may be less likely to support Democratic Senators and some of their spending priorities.

The defense budget looks like at best it will stay flat for the next few years forcing more cases of prioritization such as this with a potential loss of jobs and a negative effect on local economies.

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