Briefs

FRAMINGHAM (03/03/2000) - H-1B Visas Going FastThe U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service reported that almost half the H-1B visas allotted for fiscal year 2000 have been issued - with tens of thousands of visa petitions still pending. This week, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee, proposed raising the visa cap by 45,000 this year. A Senate bill last month proposed raising the visa cap from 115,000 to 195,000 through 2002.

Online Shoppers Spent $5.3B in Q4

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that online shoppers spent $5.3 billion during the fourth quarter, including the holiday shopping season. The agency said that online retailing made up only 0.64% of all retail sales during the period. "But e-tailing has come of age," said Commerce Secretary William M.

Daley.

KPMG Tests FirstBroadband Center

This week, KPMG Consulting LLC announced the opening of its first broadband solution center. KPMG said the Denver-based facility will enable service providers to test virtual private networks, Web hosting, streaming video and other services before deploying them in the real world. The McLean, Va.-based consulting firm plans to launch similar facilities throughout the U.S., as well as in London and Asia.

GAO Finds Faults in IRS Systems

The U.S. General Accounting Office said this week that ongoing systems problems at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service may be costing billions annually in lost revenue. The GAO found flaws in the design and operation of automated financial-management systems, as well as in computer security. The IRS has embarked on a systems-modernization program to address the criticisms, approving last year a 15-year contract with a consortium of seven information technology vendors.

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