Letters to the editor

E-Gov Needs IDs

A Circuit item headlined "E-Passe" misses the mark [FCW, June 30]. The essence of e-government is not that "everyone should just assume that agencies use computers." If anything, e-government is the realization that nearly everyone uses computers, and agencies should assume that citizens will interact with government using computers.

One glaring shortcoming of the current e-government is the lack of a national identification that supports electronic signatures for legally binding documents. To those who are still fighting the privacy battle against a national ID, I would say that you lost 50 years ago. The only rational argument left centers on when and in what situations citizens must present IDs.

The essential goal of having an assured identity with a single token, such as a smart card, has not yet been achieved. Even now it remains far too easy to manufacture a false identity from forged or stolen documents.

Assured identity can only be provided by consistently checking identity information in various forms, such as birth/death certificates, passports, immigration and citizenship status, government-issued licenses, biometric data and military records, among others.

Other, possibly nefarious uses of such broad access to personal information are a valid privacy concern but not relevant to the issue of providing assured identity. Nor is it beyond the rule of law unless one considers our republican form of government, ignoring the usual rhetoric, to be totally out of control.

Robert S. Baron

U.S. Army Information Systems Engineering Command

The Path to 'Green'?

Chief information officers seem to be stretched, in part because they lack a clear set of measures that lets them know they are on the correct course. Policy guidance or a published road map with metrics assigned to each program would help them manage their time and work efforts. What is the big picture? How do I know I am on course to be "green" on the Bush administration's performance score card?

We all know the rules in systems development and management: If you are not measuring it, it is not important. The view from within agencies appears to be that we will know green when we see it. Where are the metrics?

This is one of many reasons agency CIOs are overworked.

Name withheld by request

IT Glass Ceiling

After training, information technology workers migrate from government to higher-paying jobs. Congress passed a special pay rate in an attempt to keep federal IT workers. So the Army implements pay-banding, which negates the special rates by placing the IT people in the pay band that equates to their grades and not to the amount of pay they are receiving. This puts most IT people above the top of a band, even though they are receiving pay that should put them in the next band.

The IT people will not lose any pay. They just won't receive any raises until the non-IT people of the same grade catch up with them. The result negates the special pay rate issued by Congress. This is supposed to encourage IT people to stay?

S.H. Manning U.S. Army

Small-Business Goals

It looks like the Democrats really like to pick hen's teeth ["Democrats join debate over small-biz goals," FCW, June 30]. Missing targets by 0.38% means they came within 99.62% of achieving them! This is hardly failure. Besides, these are only goals, a number picked by somebody as a mark on the wall. They are not mandates etched in stone, despite the Democrats' desire to think they are.

This constant sniping at our government agencies by our own lawmakers in these trying times must provide no end of joy to our foreign detractors. Come on, Dems, get over it. We have much greater problems in our world and the country that require a unified body to solve.

William Johnson Anteon Corp.

TSP Magic

Logging in to the Thrift Savings Plan site is easy. You say "Shazam," turn around three times to your right, reboot once and then log in. I don't see why people cannot follow these simple instructions.

If you run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows, rebooting won't work. Then you have to say "Mazash," turn around three times to your left and log in.

Good luck! Keep a sense of humor. They are working on it.

Leendert H. Stuyt U.S. Air Force

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