The Circuit

And Now for the Hard PART

PART is an important tool for the Bush administration and Congress, enabling officials to determine what programs are most effective, efficient and worth funding, but no one seems to be able to remember what the acronym stands for.

At his confirmation hearing to be director of the Office of Management and Budget, the agency that administers PART, Joshua Bolten could not come up with the words "program assessment rating tool," no matter how detailed he was able to get on the description of the tool and its purpose.

He asked for help from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, but even she, who had spoken about the tool in her opening statement, could not remember and finally told Bolten to simply call it PART.

Crisis Management

Nothing helps agencies cut through the red tape better than a good old-fashioned crisis.

That's one of the conclusions in "Achieving Mission Agility Through IT," a new report from the Association for Federal Information Resources Management that outlines the top factors agency and industry leaders consider necessary for the government to make effective mission decisions.

Agencies make quick and effective decisions in crisis situations, but that ability to cut through barriers disappears again once the situation is over, said Michael Lisagor, co-chairman of AFFIRM's industry group.

AFFIRM also announced its new officers for 2003-2004, a group that for the first time includes an official who is not an information technology expert. Michael Sade, director of acquisition management and procurement at the Commerce Department, will serve as vice president of the organization.

E-Passe

Government runs on computers. Get over it.

That's the gist of what Harris Miller, president of the Information Technol-ogy Association of America, told a crowd gathered in New York City to talk about opportunities in the federal market for IT vendors.

The term "e-government," "so hip these days, simply states the obvious, Miller said. Everyone should just assume that agencies use computers. "We don't talk about 't-gov' for telephones," he said.

You've Got Spam

Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates, the guy everybody loves to hate, made a pretty good bid for audience sym- pathy at a speech last week in Washington, D.C.

Talking about his company's Trustworthy Computing initiative, Gates noted that a truly networked society will not exist until the public believes that privacy and security safeguards are in place. One important step in gaining the public's trust is eliminating spam, he said.

It's a tough case to crack, even for a corporate giant like Microsoft.

"I may receive more spam than anyone else in the country, although perhaps the president gets more," Gates quipped.

After his recent anti-trust suit, Gates — the world's richest man, with a net worth of $40.7 billion, according to Forbes magazine — was flattered to receive e-mail messages with "offers to cover my legal fees for just a few dollars a month...offers to get me out of debt and offers to help me boost my finances."

Gates was speaking at IT Leadership in a Security-Focused World, a June 25 conference hosted by the IT Industry Council and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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