One-month continuing resolution to keep government running past Sept. 30 would buy lawmakers time to finish spending bills, but additional extensions might be necessary.
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Bureaus have 45 days to submit detailed compliance plans to headquarters.
Goal is to award a contract by the middle of next year, in the hopes of rolling the first tanker off production lines by 2015.
The approach will include elements from existing programs, top agency official says.
Requirements focus on cybersecurity and interoperability issues to improve technical capabilities, energy management and data exchange.
To qualify for appropriations, policy coordinators would have to appear before congressional panels and submit biannual reports to lawmakers.
Winner will meet with President Obama and the submission will be included in the Executive Office's fiscal 2011 budget proposal.
Reports find that despite efforts, department still needs to fill posts in dangerous areas as well as beef up officers' foreign language skills.
Agency leaders cite improvements to correct audit problems, but Senate panel says complete overhaul is needed.
Legislation would keep the federal government running after the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, giving lawmakers more time to finish appropriations measures.