Top Stories of the Year - 1987

GSA's agenda for workplace quality

April 1987

GSA plans to cut back on the amount of space it leases, consolidate agencies from a multiplicity of locations, use ergonomic furniture in 10 percent of its real estate inventory and average 135 square feet or less of space per employee in older existing buildings.

GSA rounds up new program regs

May 1987

GSA issues guidelines for launching and implementing the Trail Boss professional development program.

DEC wins $80M Census contract

May 1987

The Census Bureau awards an $80 million contract to Digital Equipment Corp. for nearly 600 VAX minicomputers after two months of protests that threatened to delay system software testing.

DOD ready to hand out Ada dollars

June 1987

DOD is expected to start doling out about $20 million in R&D money for new software development tools for its Ada programming language.

IRS auditors taking laptops on the road

June 1987

The IRS is using automation to ease the workload of its field auditors and revising its in-house tax research software.

Super Ada?

June 1987

Since DOD first hit on the idea more than 10 years ago of using good software engineering to cut through the chaos of Pentagon computing, a firestorm of controversy has ignited over whether Ada fits the bill.

GSA drafts guide for big buys of small computers

July 1987

As part of a five-year plan for meeting the government's computing needs, GSA drafts a guide to help federal managers with big buys of small computers.

Zenith laptops to Air Force by October

August 1987

After announcing that Zenith beat out Toshiba America as the winner of the Air Force laptop contract, DOD says the first batch of the new computers should be in use by October.

EDS wins Army record system bid

September 1987

Electronic Data Systems walks away with a nine-year, $343 million Army contract for a worldwide personnel management system that promises to keep soldiers' vital personal records from becoming lost or stolen.

Interior moves to off-the-shelf financial management software

October 1987

The Interior Department is replacing its 10 separate financial systems with one commercial software package.

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Tech Talk
Vendors, researchers and network users are forming a working group to develop specifications for defining TCP/IP tools and standards.
Several factors are contributing to the growing popularity of workstations in the federal government. Price leads the way. “You can buy a DEC, Sun or Apollo workstation for less than the cost of an IBM PS/2 Model 80, and it will do more,” said John Logan, a product analyst at the Yankee Group.
More than 50 companies tout their leak-proof minicomputers, printers, modems and CRTs at AFCEA International's 41st annual convention and exposition.
Sun Microsystems introduces its Sun-4 family of workstations and servers, which run at 10 million instructions per second. The announcement marks the latest move in a game of competitive leapfrog played with increasing vigor by workstation vendors.
Top Stories of the Year - 1988

FMS finishes prototype for fed payments

February 1988

The Treasury Department's Financial Management Service is completing the first phase of a project to permit paperless disbursement of funds.

SAIC wins DOD hospital award

March 1988

SAIC will support more than 750 DOD medical treatment facilities worldwide under a $1 billion contract for an integrated hospital information system.

IRS expects nationwide electronic filing by 1990

June 1988

The majority of taxpayers will be able to file their 1988 tax returns electronically, with the service being expanded to every state by the end of the decade, IRS Commissioner Lawrence Gibbs says.

NFC to process Treasury payroll

July 1988

The Treasury Department intends to hand over the job of processing the personnel and payroll records of its 180,000 employees to the Agriculture Department in what officials say is the largest agency cross-servicing deal ever.

IBM wins air traffic control award

August 1988

IBM and its bidding partners beat out a team led by Hughes Aircraft to win the Federal Aviation Administration's $3.5 billion Advanced Automation Systems contract to modernize the nation's air traffic control system.

GSA rethinks grand-design planning

August 1988

An upcoming GSA report is the first step in a re-evaluation of grand-design approaches to large-scale computer systems in the government.

AT&T wins $930M AFCAC-251 contract

October 1988

AT&T wins the largest computer contract ever awarded by the federal government: a $930 million, two-year requirements-based contract to provide as many as 21,000 minicomputer systems.

Sprint, AT&T win FTS 2000

December 1988

The award, split 60-40 between AT&T and Sprint, respectively, could prove to be a mixed blessing because it faces almost certain protests and a reluctant clientele.

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Tech Talk
President Ronald Reagan is expected to remove most security restrictions limiting the power and uses of private picture-taking satellites. The new policy lays to rest any restrictions on the resolution of picture-taking satellites. January 1988
Motorola has lifted a corner of the veil of secrecy surrounding its multimillion-dollar program to develop reduced instruction-set computing processors. February 1988
DOD slashes fiscal 1989 funding for four major Ada-oriented software development programs by about two-thirds and plans to support them through a consolidated software initiative. February 1988
Five federal agencies are combining forces to create a single wideband fiber-optic network that will grow into what is now known as the Internet. March 1988
The new version of WordPerfect brings the program back to the leading edge in features, improves the documentation and simplifies the menu structure. July 1988
The National Archives and Records Administration and GSA draft a rule to help agencies select, manage and maintain electronic records. The proposal also spells out criteria computerized data must follow to be admitted as evidence in court cases. September 1988
Top Stories of the Year - 1989

DARPA asked to beef up its support for HDTV

May 1989

DARPA says it will provide as much as $30 million in funding for research into high-definition TV transmission systems and displays, which the military needs for command and control functions and as the interface to smart weapons, but manufacturers say it should commit half a billion dollars over the next five years.

BDM team wins award for EDGAR

January 1989

The Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval contract award follows a four-year pilot project in which the Securities and Exchange Commission struggled with Congress over funding questions and with state securities organizations over access to the system.

President's council hits computer security flaws

January 1989

The President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency sharply criticizes the systems controls at some of the government's largest computer centers. It faults the technical implementations of operating system features and security software and the policies and procedures governing their use.

GAO criticizes agencies' security training plans

March 1989

GAO says it plans to issue a third computer security report addressing agencies' compliance with legal requirements that they file computer security plans, detail risks to sensitive non-classified systems and take steps to protect those computers.

GAO reports government shortfall in ADP workers

March 1989

Federal computer career opportunities are limited by outdated job descriptions based on 1970s computer technology and don't reflect the widespread use of microcomputer networks and stand-alone workstations, according to GAO.

OMB to limit agencies' cross-servicing efforts

April 1989

OMB begins cracking down on computer cross-servicing to prevent agencies from becoming data processing entrepreneurs, according to OMB's top information policy official.

Ethics regs bewilder contractors

May 1989

A new ethics package with rigid controls on federal procurement practices prompts the early retirement of many senior government executives who are concerned about employment after government service.

Army pushes off-the-shelf for RCAS

July 1989

The Army's largest automation project to date will rely on off-the-shelf equipment to build a network of workstations designed to accelerate mobilization of the National Guard and Army Reserve.

NCS to develop emergency communications network

August 1989

The National Communications System plans to build an emergency telecommunications system to provide senior government officials with a survivable system capable of accessing any public telephone network in case of a national disaster or emergency.

GSA to press for alternative to grand-design approach

September 1989

Francis McDonough, deputy commissioner of GSA's Information Resources Management Service, says the agency is reconsidering how best to design the major systems on which so many government operations depend.

Report finds low pay chases employees from government

September 1989

Federal pay increases have not kept pace with the Consumer Price Index or with increases in the Employment Cost Index, a separate measure that gauges hikes in private-sector wages for white-collar workers.

Officials kick off FTS 2000 with conference call

October 1989

GSA, AT&T and Sprint switch 60,000 users at 31 federal agencies onto FTS 2000, marking the opening of the network and the first phase of a six-month federal transition to the new contract.

Unisys takes Desktop III award

November 1989

Unisys won DOD's Desktop III PC contract with a low bid of $700 million for 250,000 machines, far below the industry estimate of $1 billion.

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DEC unveils VAX 3600 systems - and two VAX file servers, two VAX cluster systems, two systems for developing transaction-processing applications, an input/output controller and several data-storage products. January 1989
Sybase introduces the industry's first secure relational database management system. Based on the company's commercial relational DBMS, the new product allows storage of data with multiple security classifications in a single database. March 1989
The Navy plans to use military versions of the Motorola chips that power Apple's Macintosh computer as the brain of its new class of attack submarines. March 1989
The Social Security Administration is building a nationwide e-mail system using off-the-shelf software and modems that could connect as many as 13,000 personal computers nationwide. April 1989
Apple unveils a secure version of its A/UX Unix operating system. It is designed for the B1 level of security and adds compartmented-mode workstation features required by the Defense Intelligence Agency. May 1989
The capability is now in place, but not thoroughly debugged, to let MCI Mail users send messages to mailboxes on the Internet, the nationwide umbrella network encompassing 6,000 research networks connecting 60,000 hosts. June 1989
Agencies and geographic information system users call for greater standardization, more data sharing and common definitions among the 50 federal agencies and 83,000 other entities handling the country's land and geographic data. October 1989
Top Stories of the Year - 1990

Pentagon freezes civilian hiring as part of workforce cutback

January 1990

The announcement by Defense Secretary Dick Cheney of an immediate freeze on new civilian hires took military officials by surprise. They are waiting for guidance on how to implement it.

Cheney unveils DOD reorganization

January 1990

Defense Secretary Dick Cheney announces a full-blown information management restructuring of the Pentagon, under which major Army, Navy and Air Force computer systems will be consolidated.

Subcommittee debates 4-year term for GSA head

February 1990

Although congressional witnesses agree that GSA needs greater management stability, some question whether a proposal by Rep. Cardiss Collins (D-Ill.) to appoint the agency's administrator to a four-year term would achieve that goal.

USDA first to tackle FTS 2000 issues

June 1990

USDA is neither the first customer of FTS 2000's packet-switched data service - that was the Bureau of Mines - nor the most controversial, a distinction that belongs to DOD.

Army taps two firms for RCAS

October 1990

The Army selects Boeing Computer Services and Computer Sciences Corp. to compete for one of the major military IT contracts of the 1990s: the $1 billion Reserve Component Automation System.

Martin Marietta wins HIIPS

December 1990

The Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded Martin Marietta a $529.9 million contract to run the HUD Integrated Information Processing System, a grand-design project to consolidate the agency's data-processing systems.

DOD sends CIM to C3I, Andrews named czar

December 1990

Defense Secretary Dick Cheney made sweeping changes in the management of DOD's IT, shifting responsibility for the Corporate Information Management program to Duane Andrews, assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications and intelligence.

Trail Boss program passes benchmark

December 1990

GSA graduated the 300th person from its Trail Boss training course, a rigorous, two-week program of case studies, seminars and role-playing designed to educate agency executives in the best principles of acquisition design and management.

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Tech Talk
Officials at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center have reorganized program management for the Earth Observing System, a series of satellites that will conduct space-based observation of the Earth's climate. January 1990
To crack down on international terrorism and drug smuggling, the State Department keeps close tabs on individuals entering the country. One of the latest steps to keep the bad guys out is a machine-readable visa program. August 1990
Army officials say they have deployed the most computer equipment in the service's history - some of it straight off the shelf - to support Operation Desert Shield, the U.S. military's response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. October 1990
Top Stories of the Year - 1991

Lockheed's star rises with twin wins

January 1991

After several false starts, Lockheed has charged out of the gate into the federal systems integration market with recent wins of the Veterans Affairs Department's $153 million office automation contract and the $40 million National Cancer Institute supercomputer upgrade.

Pentagon expects to save $35B over 5 years with CIM

May 1991

That's a vast increase over the $4.3 billion in savings the Pentagon anticipated when it launched the Corporate Information Management program in January 1990.

AF seeks multiple Desktop IV schedules

June 1991

The Air Force has written its Desktop IV procurement in a manner that could offer DOD users a choice of PC hardware and software options from a variety of sources.

FBI plans national DNA database

June 1991

The database will contain DNA profiles of convicted sex offenders, which can be matched with profiles of blood or other tissue evidence.

Energy's Scott steps into FTS 2000 hot spot

August 1991

Donald Scott will serve as senior manager and adviser to the GSA administrator for all matters pertaining to FTS 2000, including policy development, oversight and program management.

Ethics Office releases proposal for new ethical conduct rules

August 1991

The new rule reiterates some basic standards of conduct and spells out specific conflicts of interest. It prohibits gifts to supervisors and subordinates but permits federal employees to accept plaques, certificates and awards.

AF buys out of Desktop III, Unisys buys time

August 1991

The Air Force has backed away from the delay-plagued Desktop III contract held by Unisys and will now allow Air Force units to buy PCs from other contracts.

Pentagon to set up IT store

August 1991

DOD plans to establish its own computer hardware and software leasing center as part of the Corporate Information Management program led by Paul Strassman, director of defense information.

Boeing wins $1.6B RCAS buy

October 1991

RCAS, one of the most hard-fought and protracted DOD procurements, will automate the call-up and mobilization of citizen soldiers — the frontline and rear-echelon troops who have become increasingly important in the current slimmed-down Army.

Sysorex, CompuAdd win DOD Desktop IV

November 1991

Sysorex Information Systems and CompuAdd win 1991's biggest federal hardware prize: the Desktop IV contract to supply 300,000 high-powered 386 and 486 PCs to DOD.

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Apple furnishes portable computers to a medevac unit, citing the desire to put them to use in a unit whose duty is to help people. January 1991
Among the systems in use for the first time in Desert Storm are the Army's Maneuver Control Systems, the Navy's Standard Desktop Tactical Support Computers and the Marine Corps' Desktop Tactical Computers. January 1991
Top DOD and industry executives say commercial satellite communication has become an increasingly viable alternative to satellites owned and operated by the military. April 1991
NIST's proposed new standard for digital signatures would verify the originator and the integrity of electronic messages, including electronic data interchange. September 1991
Smart cards will replace food stamps in an Ohio test. The smart cards have built-in microprocessors that can store more than five times as much information as magnetically striped cards, which means they eliminate the need for a constant, online central database and thereby reduce expensive network costs for the government. September 1991
Top Stories of the Year - 1992

Pentagon OKs user-to-user global net

March 1992

The Defense Information Systems Network will integrate all Army, Air Force and Navy long-haul communications into one system managed and controlled by the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Budget office revises A-130

May 1992

OMB’s much-anticipated revision of Circular A-130 for the first time sets policy for how agencies should disseminate electronic information.

DOD grants DISA power over all IT

July 1992

Top Pentagon officials say they are revolutionizing information exchange by giving the Defense Information Systems Agency the authority to acquire, manage and operate all DOD IT systems.

Intel, DOS, Windows win in federal PC/LAN survey

July 1992

Intel processors, MS-DOS and the Microsoft Windows operating environment have won the battle for the federal desktop, according to Information Systems Group.

Storm takes GIS to task

September 1992

Hurricane Andrew, which sparked one of the largest federal relief efforts ever mounted, has given the Federal Emergency Management Agency an airtight case for strengthening the ties between geographic information systems and emergency management procedures.

OMB clarifies 'inherently governmental' functions

October 1992

OMB's long-awaited policy letter is designed to help federal agencies determine which functions are "inherently governmental" — and therefore not subject to contracting out - and which jobs are fair game for private contractors.

Council says data center consolidation can save millions

November 1992

A series of completed and planned data center consolidations at federal agencies could save the government millions of dollars in the next several years, according to a group of federal data center directors.

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Tech Talk
Client/server computing — one of the hottest buzzwords in information system circles today — has yet to take the federal government by storm.
For the next headcount, the Census Bureau is exploring technologies such as electronic imaging, optical character recognition, voice recognition and pen-based computers, GIS, neural networks, and massively parallel processing.
Microsoft releases the latest version of Windows, an icon-based environment that sits on top of DOS. Proponents say graphical interfaces are a more intuitive way of working on a computer.
A number of federal agencies are using fax-on-demand systems to disseminate information ranging from state-of-the-art cancer therapy to anti-drug regulations.
Top Stories of the Year - 1993

DOD ships computers/
comm to Somalia

January 1993

While Army and Marine combat troops rushed convoys of food to starvation-wracked areas of Somalia last month, support units throughout the United States scrambled to provide the necessary communications and computer infrastructure for the mission.

Defining e-mail’s legal status

February 1993

In a case involving information pertinent to the Iran-Contra investigation, the court ruled that all e-mail messages must be considered official records and must be preserved by the White House.

OFPP to agencies: Consider contractors’ past performance before award

February 1993

The Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy issued a final policy letter directing agencies to consider the past performance of a bidder when awarding new contracts.

OMB chief orders review of contracting out

March 1993

Expressing concern over the government’s affinity for, and growing use of, contracted services, Office of Management and Budget Director Leon Panetta has ordered agencies to think twice before contracting to outside businesses and organizations.

Big companies locked out as GSA stands pat on schedules

April 1993

The General Services Administration refused to back down on its request for extensive sales data from vendors seeking multiple-award schedules, thereby locking out a number of big-name companies from the lucrative contracts.

FBI kicks off net portion of fingerprint ID system

May 1993

The FBI has released a request for proposals for the first of three procurements to build a mammoth system that will hold more than 300 million imaged fingerprints of U.S. criminals.

DOD turns off Red Switch

August 1993

The Air Force’s $1.8 billion Red Switch contract with GTE was supposed to provide secure voice communications to and from installations controlling America’s nuclear arsenal. But the end of the Cold War and the development of the less expensive Secure Telephone Unit-III technology have made the contract unnecessary.

NPR seeks ‘radical’ makeover of federal contracting process

September 1993

Vice President Al Gore’s National Performance Review could have a lasting impact on IT, altering both the procurement process and the government’s use of computers to provide services to the public.

Administration unveils plan for nationwide network

September 1993

The National Information Infrastructure casts the government in the role of a catalyst for private investment through regulatory reforms and research programs.

Feds tumble for Adobe’s Acrobat

October 1993

Since its release this summer, the software package has been adopted as a cross-platform electronic communications tool by the largest government publishing operations, and its core technology has been proposed as a federal standard.

Kelman takes reins as new OFPP chief

November 1993

Steve Kelman is the new administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, and with him comes the promise of change in the way the White House marshals its procurement policy agenda.

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Tech Talk
E-mail has taken root at virtually every agency. Now this relatively inexpensive messaging technology is viewed by many as an absolute necessity rather than a mere convenience.
OMB says agencies must use e-mail to swap draft legislative reports, bills and testimony.
Agencies continue to hold to established paths with Intel microtechnology — 486 and below — giving little indication of how new technologies will figure into existing contracts.
Top Stories of the Year - 1994

House enters info highway

March 1994

The House takes another step toward cyber democracy by providing public e-mail addresses to all members who want them and inaugurating a gopher server that offers citizens free access to limited congressional data.

Gophers crawl through Capitol Hill; 16 House members get e-mail

March 1994

Sixteen House members have signed on to e-mail. But those members want constituents to send a post card with their e-mail address on it before lawmakers will communicate with them electronically.

If I had a hammer…

March 1994

Vice President Al Gore hands out the first of what he hopes will be hundreds of awards to government employees who streamline their operations and improve service to the public.

1999: End of the line for paper benefits

June 1994

The White House moves to end paper-based distribution of federal benefits and replace them with electronic transactions by 1999.

Move to automated hiring puts SF-171 out of work

June 1994

Automated methods for hiring employees play a key role in a decision by the Office of Personnel Management to eliminate Standard Form 171, the application filled out by anyone seeking federal government employment.

DOD, civilian groups codify ‘inherently governmental’

June 1994

The Federal Acquisition Regulation now contains language that denotes tasks considered to be inherently governmental, which means they should not be performed by contractors.

DOD abandons mil-spec requirements

July 1994

The Defense Department changes regulations that previously mandated the acquisition of systems and equipment built to exacting and expensive military specifications.

Hackers storm DOD nets

July 11, 1994, Bob Brewin and Elizabeth Sikorovsky

A new breed of highly sophisticated hacker — called “info assassins” by a former Defense Department official — mounts daily attacks against key Defense and civilian computers connected to the Internet, penetrating and grabbing control of hundreds of sensitive but unclassified systems.

GTSI buys Falcon in $16.5M deal

August 1994

Two of the largest federal microcomputer resellers — Government Technology Services Inc. and Falcon Microsystems — join forces, creating a behemoth that aims to dominate this high-volume, low-margin business.

House passes acquisition revamp

September 1994

Ending a four-year debate, the House passes a wide-ranging acquisition reform bill called the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act.

Agencies: Old systems are hurdle to new reform

October 1994

When Congress passed the Government Management Reform Act of 1994 in September, it handed agencies a challenge that they might not be able to meet unless they retool their financial information systems: produce complete audited financial systems within two years.

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Tech Talk
PCMCIA, a technology that lets computer users plug in miniature peripherals without performing setup or configuration chores, has moved from the leading edge to the mainstream of portable computing. January 1994
As agency users applaud a recent government report calling for an end to the Government Open Systems Interconnection Profile mandate, members of the standards community express concern that the report fails to offer real solutions to agency interoperability needs. February 1994
'Intelligent highway' moves into fast laneThe Federal Highway Administration takes a trip back to the future when it receives bids on the Automated Highway System program, a plan to completely automate driving in a way first envisioned by General Motors in its Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. March 1994
Personal communicators show promise AT&T is working on a new model of the EO designed to be more akin to a smart telephone than a pen-based computer. May 1994
Remote-access computing using the public-switched network is growing steadily in the federal sector. Federal buyers can choose among remote-access products that provide a range of dial-up speeds, scalability, server functionality, security and client control. November 1994
GILS ushered in as a federal standard The Government Information Locator Service will become a federal standard, a move that should make the tortuous route to online agency information much easier to navigate. December 1994
Top Stories of the Year - 1995

It's a Newt year

January 1995

In his first week as the new Speaker of the House, Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) takes time out to introduce a system that will provide online access to congressional information. Dubbed Thomas for the nation's third president, the system will offer the public a range of information, including the full text of House bills and summaries of floor proceedings.

Iowa project to test fed service delivery

January 1995

Collaborating on a project that will test the government's ability to deliver services to the average citizen, federal agencies and state officials from Iowa are planning to test videoconferencing, telemedicine and other applications on the state's private fiber network.

E-mail program office rolls out blueprint for basic services

April 1995

The General Services Administration's Electronic Messaging Program Management Office releases a two-year governmentwide messaging plan that sets the stage for agencies to have basic electronic mail this year.

Computers speed relief after Oklahoma bombing

April 1995

The dust had scarcely settled at the devastated Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City when federal emergency response and investigative agencies put information systems to work analyzing and investigating the bombing.

System lets taxpayers file returns by telephone

June 1995

By next year, as many as 26 million taxpayers nationwide will be able to file simple tax returns by telephone as part of an $8.5 million contract awarded by the IRS.

Cohen bill debuts — at last

June 1995

Sen. William Cohen (R-Maine) introduces his long-awaited bill to revamp how the government buys IT. Under its provisions, the Office of Management and Budget would become the primary overseer of federal IT purchasing. The legislation would also repeal the Brooks Act and abolish the General Services Administration's Board of Contract Appeals.

Agencies prepare for looming ‘train wreck'

August 1995

The Clinton administration warns agency leaders that the looming fiscal standoff between the president and the Republican-led Congress could result in a lengthy government shutdown with job losses, furloughs and the potential for far-reaching effects on the federal IT community.

Data center mergers, closings ahead

October 1995

The Office of Management and Budget instructs agencies to begin developing plans to close and consolidate small and midsize data centers by mid-1998.

Vendors to open ‘virtual' superstore on the Internet

October 1995

The National Institutes of Health picked 17 vendors to set up a “virtual” store that will allow employees at the Department of Health and Human Services to shop for thousands of computer products over the Internet.

Budget duel forces federal shutdown

November 1995

Federal agencies practice the equivalent of IT triage in choosing which systems and employees to keep on and which to shut down and furlough as they grapple with a budget impasse that leaves much of the government without funding and with orders to shut down nonessential functions.

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Tech Talk
Chip cards promise improved government service Federal agencies are actively exploring the use of smart cards - laminated cards equipped with microprocessors - as a solution to a host of data storage, security and portability problems. January 1995
The Clinton administration appears to be backing away from its controversial Clipper/Capstone voice and data encryption plan, instead favoring a public-key approach supported by industry.February 1995
The Census Bureau has begun preparation for the 2000 census, expected to be the most inclusive, expansive and technologically intensive nationwide headcount to date.March 1995
No other GSA reseller offers an online system that features both up-to-date product listings and the ability to accept orders electronically, company officials said.March 1995
Mosaic, the freeware that has made cruising the Internet as easy as clicking a mouse, has spawned a small but growing market of commercial alternatives. Two players currently lead the market: Netscape Communications and Spyglass.March 1995
This could be the summer of the Pentium. More users are demanding this once-exclusive processor as it falls in price. Software is fueling the fire as multimedia applications and more rigorous environments cry out for more processing punch.June 1995
Microsoft Windows 95 made its expected splashy debut, but despite the hype and hoopla, federal agencies are not rushing to take up the operating system.August 1995
Top Stories of the Year - 1996

Second shutdown hurts vendors, agencies

January 1996

Agencies yet to receive fiscal 1996 funding are left with skeletal staffs to keep systems up and running. But the more damaging, long-term impact of the three-week shutdown may be the departure of disgruntled federal IT personnel.

Senate offices set to offer Web access to employees

January 1996

The Senate has given its employees access to the World Wide Web, its latest effort to keep pace with technology being used by the private sector.

U.S. know-how brings telecom to peacekeeping in Bosnia

January 1996

U.S. peacekeepers in Bosnia have constructed one of the most extensive and complex field communications networks ever put together by the military: a voice/video/data infrastructure that stretches all the way from Bosnia to the Pentagon.

End of an era: Bill kills GSA contract, protest oversight roles

February 1996

The General Services Administration's 30-year role as the arbiter of federal IT programs ends this week if President Clinton, as expected, signs a bill that repeals the Brooks Act. The revocation of the Brooks law is part of a measure that authorizes Defense Department programs for the current fiscal year. The legislation also would end the GSA Board of Contract Appeals' jurisdiction over bid protests, relax some federal buying rules and eliminate 15,000 DOD contracting positions.

Year 2000 causes double trouble for feds

April 1996

No one knows how much it is really going to cost to fix the year 2000 in millions of lines of government software. Pentagon estimates exceed $1 billion.

DOD rewrites book on IT buys

April 1996

Secretary of Defense William Perry approves a major rewrite of Defense Department acquisition guidelines, completing an intense effort to streamline how DOD buys technology.

Olympic games: Atlanta to test people, traffic systems

May 1996

Numerous federal agencies are using the Olympic Games as an opportunity to test new computer systems designed to ease the strain that an estimated 2 million visitors will put on Atlanta's various transportation systems.

20 companies to share $1B services prize

May 1996

The Transportation Department, with the National Performance Review as a backdrop, awards 20 contracts under a $1.1 billion services program, which it hails as an example of new IT procurements possible under recent federal acquisition reform.

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The Army kicks off a multibillion-dollar project to revamp its battlefield communications system, a project that calls for replacing or upgrading virtually every piece of the Army's battlefield communications infrastructure, from cables to radios to switches to satellite terminals. June 1996
Predicting that the United States would face ‘very, very large and uncomfortable incidents' at the hands of cyber terrorists, CIA Director John Deutch pledges to boost U.S. intelligence gathering of foreign information warfare threats. July 1996
For many federal agencies, Independence Day this year comes on Aug. 8 — the day the IT Management Reform Act goes into effect, bringing with it significant reforms in government procurement and management. July 1996
The General Services Administration's Board of Contract Appeals will soon stop accepting bid protests for IT contracts, concluding its decades-long role as an arbiter for these often-contentious cases. August 1996
In what some observers call a shot across the bow, the Office of Management and Budget puts agencies on notice that information systems must meet strict new criteria to receive continued funding. November 1996
Java, a software language that is all the rage among Internet users, is still too new to make a big splash in the federal market. But many agencies are exploring how they might benefit from this new concept in network computing. March 1996
Firewalls are a growth industry. These devices, which filter communications between the public Internet and an organization's private network, are becoming available on an increasing number of federal contract vehicles. July 1996
After years of high prices, questionable fidelity and confusion about standards, videoconferencing seems ready to become a standard part of federal IT systems. August 1996
Report suggests DOD limit Ada use The National Research Council recommends that the Defense Department roll back its long-standing, often unpopular mandate requiring the Ada programming language and reserve it for use only in weapon systems and other warfighting software. November 1996
Top Stories of the Year - 1997

House enacts rule ordering documents posted online

February 1997

The House adopts a rule that requires committees to make publications available to the public via the Internet “to the maximum extent feasible.”

NASA to outsource all desktops

January 1997

The contract, which will be managed at Goddard Space Flight Center, will outsource all hardware and support for the desktop, including all administrative workstations and some scientific and engineering workstations.

New industry estimates push Y2K costs skyward

March 1997

Fixing the Year 2000 date change in the federal government's computer systems will cost more than twice what the Clinton administration has predicted, according to a new industry study disclosed to Federal Computer Week.

New rules could hurt small biz

April 1996

Representatives from small businesses tell Congress that a proposed rewrite of the Federal Acquisition Regulation would bar small vendors from bidding on federal contracts and give contracting officers too much freedom in determining what constitutes an adequate level of competition.

Senate to empower CIO with IT budget authority

May 1997

In a break with how IT is traditionally managed in the government, the Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to release legislation that would give CIO Anne Reed authority over the Agriculture Department's $1.2 billion IT budget.

NIST to allow agencies' use of COTS products

May 1997

The National Institute of Standards and Technology announces plans to allow agencies to use commercial IT to secure e-commerce.

NASA orders all e-mail destroyed

June 1997

NASA directs its centers to destroy all e-mail older than 60 days, a policy that many say does not conform to National Archives and Records Administration regulations and might raise other legal questions.

IT plays key role in Mars Pathfinder mission

July 1997

Almost every aspect of the Mars Pathfinder mission is driven by IT — hardware and software that has exceeded expectations for performance and helped drive down the exorbitant costs of space exploration.

Union threatens to block IRS test to scan tax return forms

July 1997

The National Treasury Employees Union says the work is an inherently governmental function and should not be performed by a contractor.

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A new hole is discovered in Windows NT; unauthorized users could exploit the glitch to gain access to files. April 1997
Hardware vendors unleash the latest generation of high-end PCs as Intel debuts its Pentium II chip, which the company says offers a significant performance boost over existing chips without a corresponding price premium. May 1997
Although Windows NT seems to have carved out a niche for itself in the federal desktop environment and UNIX is holding steady at the high end, the two will butt heads in a battle for midtier and departmental territory. June 1997
Compaq, which in the past has manufactured products on a built-to-forecast basis, will extend the build-to-order approach to cover all product lines, with a worldwide rollout to be under way by the fourth calendar quarter. July 1997
NASA is testing a unique GPS technology on shuttles to give astronauts more navigational control. August 1997
Top Stories of the Year - 1998

FAA launches $2.75B telecom system

February 1998

FICS-21 will replace 11 major programs, including owned and leased networks.

Lockheed snares $210M telecom pact

January 1998

Lockheed Martin Technical Services wins a five-year, $210.4 million contract to provide telecommunications and computing support services for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, adding the win to a $259 million pact it received in October 1997 to support the agency’s North Carolina-based National Computer Center and regional offices nationwide.

Compaq acquires Digital for $9.6B

February 1998

Looking to boost its presence in the enterprise computing environment, Compaq Computer Corp. will acquire Digital Equipment Corp. and its extensive portfolio of computer and networking products and services.

Computer system abuse soars

March 1998

The cost of unauthorized use skyrockets to $52.5 million at agencies.

NASA to send weather info to pilots

June 1998

The project is part of a Clinton administration goal to reduce the number of plane crashes by 80 percent in 10 years.

INS picks three for mega IT deal

June 1998

The Immigration and Naturalization Service awards three vendors the largest segment of its $1.2 billion program to continue development of the agency’s full range of information systems — from the computers by which agents verify the identities of border crossers to the systems INS workers use to process information on citizenship candidates.

GSA picks 8 for seat management

July 1998

GSA taps eight vendors for a desktop outsourcing contract estimated to be worth $9 billion.

Lockheed wins $3.4B NASA prize

September 1998

CSOC will replace bricks-and-mortar mission control centers with laptop computers and Web browsers.

Sprint wins FTS 2001, Part 1

December 1998

GSA awards Sprint the first of two contracts under the $5 billion FTS 2001 program, a move likely to reduce prices and shift many agencies to new providers.

IRS awards modernization contract

December 1998

Computer Sciences Corp. will lead a 15-year effort to replace the IRS' archaic computer systems.

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The U.S. Postal Service demonstrates the first approved Web-based product that allows users to print postage from their PCs.
PC vendors deliver on new PII Xeon lets manufacturers scale up to eight-processor systems.
Treasury tests smart cards Eight vendors join the effort to apply security technology to e-commerce.
Top Stories of the Year - 1999

Clinton: $1.4B to fight cyber terror

January 1999

President Bill Clinton says his fiscal 2000 budget request will include $1.4 billion for protection of the banking, electric and other critical systems and for computer security — a 40 percent increase in the two budget years since the president created the Critical Infrastructure Protection Commission.

Sign of the times

February 1999

Now that Congress passes legislation that will push agencies to the brink of the much-envisioned paperless government, federal users are focusing as never before on digital signature technology, a method of authenticating the identity of a person who has “signed” an electronic document and ensuring that the contents of the document were not altered during transmission.

Reno launches security alliance

March 1999

Attorney General Janet Reno and the IT Association of America unveil a set of initiatives to combat computer crime.

Melissa a sign of problems to come, panelists told

April 1999

The government's encounter with the widespread Melissa macro virus should serve as a warning to agencies without adequate system security practices in place, a government official tells a House subcommittee.

Feds buy into charge cards

May 1999

The government charge card has become a popular tool for agencies looking to give their employees a quick way to make simple purchases without losing the ability to track those costs.

NOAA uses GPS to measure monument height

August 1999

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration uses a high-tech tape measure to help it determine whether the Washington Monument is going to turn into the Leaning Tower of Washington.

FBI fingerprints go digital

August 1999

The FBI begins operating a new system that thousands of law enforcement agents nationwide will use to run criminal background checks using fingerprints. The new system should cut down the time to process fingerprint-based background checks to two hours in criminal cases.

Russians ask for Y2K help with nukes

September 1999

Russia lags far behind in its efforts to fix potential Year 2000 problems that threaten its command and control systems and nuclear warhead storage facilities, according to a Pentagon message that details high-level talks between the U.S. Defense Department and the Russian Ministry of Defense.

DOD selects MCI for $4B telecom pact

November 1999

MCI WorldCom wins one of the biggest federal telecommunications prizes: a Defense Department contract that could be worth as much as $4 billion to provide services to U.S. forces operating over 52 million square miles in the Pacific, Indian and Caribbean oceans.

FBI cancels mega-modernization project

December 1999

After months of tussling with Congress, FBI officials kill plans for a contract that would have enhanced the agency's crime-fighting ability by giving its agents new hardware and software for sifting through and sharing information during investigations.

Agencies ‘99.9 percent compliant' for Y2K

December 1999

All but one of the federal government's mission-critical computer systems are expected to be capable of operating Jan.1, 2000, and problems with the remaining system — a military battlefield command and control system — should be avoided by a workaround, the Clinton administration reports.

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For the first time, congressional leaders have signed legislation using electronic signature software, which supporters say demonstrates the technology's growing acceptance as a viable means to further the concept of an electronic government. July 1999
Linux, the open-source operating system that for the past few years has been quietly gaining ground throughout the commercial world, has established a beachhead in the federal market and is poised to take over responsibility for some mission-critical applications. September 1999
Intel announces 15 processors based on a new generation of technology that increases speed, reduces power consumption and makes it possible for manufacturers to offer completely new classes of systems, even as they lower prices. November 1999
Top Stories of the Year - 2000

Out with the old, in with the new

January 2000

Microsoft and Intel team to produce the so-called PC99 specification, which recommends the elimination of trouble-prone PC technologies that date to the dawn of the microcomputer era.

The new soap box

March 2000

The Web serves as a collection plate, a news outlet and a billboard for position papers. It helps recruit campaign volunteers and generate crowds at campaign appearances.

Measuring agency performance: Out of reach

April 2000

Senior government officials, including agency CIOs, concede that the first report cards generally fall short of providing the clear and useful picture of spending and results envisioned in 1993 when Congress passed GPRA.

A bumpy landing?

April 2000

The Federal Aviation Administration might scale back its GPS landing system.

Will FTS 2001 unravel?

May 2000

The highly touted mega-telecom deal might be a victim of its own success.

Cyber defense mired in Cold War

June 2000

The absence of a catastrophic cyberattack against the United States has created a false sense of cybersecurity and allowed costly Cold War-era Pentagon programs to siphon money from critically needed IT and security programs, a panel of experts warns.

Commerce starting over with Commits

July 2000

The Commerce Department suspends an estimated $1.5 billion governmentwide IT services contract and asks interested vendors to revise and resubmit their proposals.

White House: Hill isn’t funding security needs

August 2000

Citing growing risks to the country from both cyber and physical threats, Clinton administration officials say they are disappointed that Congress is shooting down plans to fund new and existing programs that help agencies counter such threats.

CIA uses technology to reform culture of distrust

August 2000

The CIA Live virtual workspace seeks to foster collaboration and connectivity.

First reviews on FirstGov

October 2000

The federal Web portal delivers the goods but not always in the right order.

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Perhaps most amusing of all, the World Wide Web page for the Naval Research Laboratory’s Director of Time proclaimed briefly that we had arrived at the Year 19000100. January 2000
The days of the traditional telephone call center may be numbered. March 2000
When agencies battled the Melissa virus in March 1999, systems administrators attributed the government’s success to coordinated, timely alerts and good planning. But when the ILOVEYOU virus came to town last week, the federal response was anything but coordinated. May 2000
Datakey announces that its model 330 smart card is among the first smart cards to earn the high-level security standard validated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. May 2000
Slowly but surely, government agencies are moving away from small, archaic computer displays that might look at home on the set of “Apollo 13” and are moving toward large-screen monitors that would fit in on the set of “Star Trek.” June 2000
Multifunction printers are sending office copy machines packing. July 2000
BlackBerry pushes a sweet solution: A wireless system sends and receives e-mail in real time, from anywhere. November 2000
Recognizing that e-mail is not the best tool for alerting agencies about e-mail-borne viruses, the federal government is developing a system to send emergency security notices via phone and fax. September 2000
Top Stories of the Year - 2001

Federal CIO to head e-gov

March 2001

The White House affirms its intention to appoint a federal CIO, an indication that the new position would be separate from the head of management at the Office of Management and Budget.

Taxes '01: E-filing chugs on

March 2001

Despite setbacks, the IRS is determined to make online filing commonplace.

Road to compliance

April 2001

The law intended to make technology work better for people with disabilities has federal agencies scrambling to prepare for its effective date of June 21.

Fed IT pick has deep resume

June 2001

Mark Forman is to lead e-government efforts based on his industry and Capitol Hill experience.

A new kind of combat

September 2001

Intelligence-sharing technology developed by the military might help intelligence agencies analyze information about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and possibly help prevent future attacks.

Cybersecurity called key to homeland defense

October 2001

As the Office of Homeland Security takes shape, federal and private-sector technology experts are urging the Bush administration to ensure that cybersecurity is included.

It’s not easy getting green

November 2001

The Office of Management and Budget’s new performance ranking gives agencies a red, yellow or green rating in specific management reform areas.

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Apple re-enters the desktop battle with a revamped operating system and powerful processors.
Windows XP: The latest operating system combines ease of use and Windows NT power.
Anyone who wants to quickly access and search the Census Bureau's Statistical Abstract or the country profiles produced by the Central Intelligence Agency can now go to FedStats, a site that relies on XML to collect the information and make it available to the public.
Because tape is much less expensive gigabyte for gigabyte than magnetic disk, it is by far the medium of choice to store backup, archival and rarely used data.
From now through 2003, interim networks are being built to offer what is called second-generation, or 2G, and 2.5G capabilities and speeds. But not until 2004 and 2005 will the superfast 3G networks and accompanying application breakthroughs be ready to kick in.
Top Stories of the Year - 2002

Al Qaeda cyber alarm sounded

July 2002

There is a 50 percent chance that the next time al Qaeda terrorists strike the United States, their attack will include a cyberattack, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) warns.

Army speeds up clearances

August 2002

The Army facility responsible for adjudicating security clearances is on track to process about 125,000 cases by the end of the year -- more than double its output from two years ago.

CIO post debated

September 2002

Experts widely praise proposed legislation to create an e-government office within the Office of Management and Budget. However, whether the office's leader should be called a CIO and be confirmed by the Senate remains in dispute.

DISA net initiative to bridge DOD, intell data

October 2002

DISA officials envision situations in which unmanned aerial vehicles doing battlefield surveillance would post information to discovery and storage services, a messaging system would alert the soldiers who need the information, and they would pull the data from storage.

Homeland security bill sets new IT agenda in motion

November 2002

President George W. Bush signs the Homeland Security Act mandating a massive government reorganization that will focus billions in IT assets on the task of protecting the country from terrorism. All told, the department will absorb 22 agencies that employ 170,000 federal workers and account for $37.2 billion in annual spending.

All eyes on Total Info Awareness

December 2002

The system, parts of which are already operational, incorporates transactional data systems, including private credit card and travel records, biometric authentication technologies, intelligence data and automated virtual data repositories.

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In server-based computing (also called thin-client computing), software applications run centrally on a server, and only the user interface and necessary files and data are transmitted to users' PCs or other Web-connected devices. This approach makes it an effective platform for telecommuting. SBC backers say that its approach also makes it well-suited for two new post-Sept. 11 priorities: enabling more data sharing by agencies and helping agencies to continue running in case disaster strikes.
All incoming freshmen at the Air Force Academy will be given IBM ThinkPad T30 laptop computers, thanks to a contract awarded to government reseller GTSI.
One key difference between the new tablets and previous versions is that the new tablets use digital pens instead of styluses. The displays on these devices are not touch screens; instead, they contain digitizers.
When we looked at the first version of the PowerBook G4 in April 2001, the price was $2,599 and the processor was 400 MHz. The current model comes with a $2,999 price tag and a 1 GHz processor. You can also buy an 867 MHz version for $2,299.
Top Stories of the Year - 2003

FAA speeds e-mail transition

February 2003

The Federal Aviation Administration finishes an ambitious rollout of a new e-mail program, moving 40,000 employees to an IBM Lotus Notes-based system in nine months.

LOC to save data 'born digital'

February 2003

Digital photographs, movies, music, Web-based journals and other cultural electronic items would be preserved for future generations while trying to keep up with constantly changing technologies.

Bush touts DHS' interoperability

February 2003

President George W. Bush officially launches the Homeland Security Department, promising cooperation and interoperability for the 22 federal agencies being folded into it.

NMCI budget larger than expected

February 2003

According to a Navy Department breakdown of its fiscal 2004 budget, $1.6 billion will support the implementation of about 365,000 seats, phased in quarterly. That number marks a nearly $1 billion increase in funding over the $646 million NMCI received in the fiscal 2003 budget.

CIA, FBI wrangle over threat center

April 2003

The friction over the center indicates just how reluctant agencies are -- especially law enforcement and intelligence agencies -- to share information and cooperate in joint efforts. But cooperation and information sharing will be crucial to preventing future terrorist attacks, IT experts say.

Navy forms first XML council

March 2003

The Navy Department forms a council to help guide the service in applying the Extensible Markup Language policy released last year..

IRS: What ails modernization?

November 2003

The Internal Revenue Service commissions a series of studies to determine what has gone wrong with its multibillion-dollar modernization program and decide how to get it back on track.

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IBM introduces a service called e-business on demand in which customers can buy chunks of supercomputer processing power on an IBM-owned and -operated system. The price for the service is determined by the capacity required and length of use.
The Amber Alert System is not only revolutionizing the fight against child abductions through better communications systems but is also having a ripple effect on different agencies.
OK, so it doesn't pick up the dry cleaning. But Palm's latest handheld, the Tungsten W, seems to do practically everything else — or at least everything you'd need from a portable electronic device. The estimated retail price for the Tungsten W is $549. AT&T Wireless service is sold separately.
Coast Guard first responders may soon be able to transmit photos directly from incident scenes to command centers. The kit sends the photos to a secure command center website via a wireless commercial network. An integrated Global Positioning System tags each photo with the latitude and longitude of the incident's location.
A sample IBM R50 configuration includes a 1.4 GHz Intel Corp. Pentium M processor, 40G hard drive, 15-inch display and 256M of memory, and costs $2,460 on IBM's website. Depending on the battery size, the notebook weighs between 6.2 and 6.8 pounds with the 15-inch display..
Top Stories of the Year - 2004

NASA: Images foster public participation

January 2004

Brian Dunbar, NASA's Internet services manager, confirms that the agency’s portal received more than 1 billion hits Jan. 3-6 as the public sought to view images from the Mars rover.

Industry rallies around e-voting

April 2004

One e-voting vendor announces that a machine that generates a paper record has been federally certified, while an industry group takes the offensive against critics of touch screen machines.

Agencies rife with bogus diplomas

May 2004

Some federal employees obtained degrees for life experiences with no academic work or classroom instruction. One institution's list of life experiences that could qualify for academic credit include horseback riding, playing golf, pressing flowers, serving on a jury and planning a trip.

GAO finds widespread fed data mining

May 2004

A Government Accountability Office report reveals 52 federal agencies that use or plan to use data mining, in most cases for reasons other than searching for hidden terrorist activities. At least 122 of the data mining projects reported in the study include the use of personally identifiable information, some of it held in private-sector databases.

NARA proposes mail discards

November 2004

National Archives and Records Administration officials want to revise the agency's short-term e-mail policy and permit federal officials to discard routine e-mail messages after a certain amount of time without keeping hard copies.

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Microsoft officials are reaching beyond the desktop with their latest version of Office. The two most significant enhancements in Office 2003 are its tight integration with SharePoint, Microsoft's Web-based collaboration platform, and its broad support for Extensible Markup Language.
One of the hottest USB peripherals is the memory key. Available in sizes of 56M, 128M and 256M, it can hold the equivalent of dozens of floppies.
Analysts are predicting that Longhorn will need every bit of the power and processing capacity of the average desktop computer in 2006. Some say that could mean a 5 GHz microprocessor, 2G of main memory, a PCI Express bus and a widescreen display. The desktop would also likely need a constant Internet connection.
Thin-client computing has been around for a decade, but the rising costs of updating software and installing security patches on networked PCs is sparking renewed interest in the technology. Plus, the need to throttle security threats from both outside and within organizations is prompting IT managers to focus even more on managing desktops.
Sun's Scott McNealy offered an all-in-one deal for one of the company's major products: Any government agency, regardless of size, can buy a copy of Sun's Java Enterprise CD and install it for unlimited use for $12 million a year.
Top Stories of the Year - 2005

FBI's Virtual Case File a virtual bust

January 2005

Five years of development and $170 million in costs has produced an incomplete electronic records management system that might be outdated before it can be fully implemented, an FBI official says.

GSA remixed

February 2005

The Bush administration is proposing merging the Federal Supply Service and Federal Technology Service into a single Federal Supply and Technology Service. According to fiscal 2006 budget documents, the proposed change makes sense because the way agency officials buy technology has changed. They once bought IT and other types of products and services separately, but it's now common for officials to buy "solutions" — a mix of products and services bundled together to meet a particular need.

WhiteHouse.xxx

June 2005

During the Clinton administration, www.whitehouse.com was not a website you would want to peruse at work. The pornography site is defunct -- in fact, it now bills itself as a place to search public records.

Chinese military targeting DOD tech

July 2005

DOD officials say the Chinese military believes the use of IT and electronic warfare weapons can increase its effectiveness early in a battle.

GILS could soon get the boot

July 2005

Popular commercial search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN Search might soon replace a 10-year-old government search standard intended as an electronic card catalog of public government information.

Judge orders Interior IT system shutdown

October 2005

A judge orders the Interior Department to disconnect all IT systems that access Indian trust fund data because the systems are vulnerable to hacker attacks.

Air Force raises bar on desktop security

November 2005

The Air Force's preconfigured bundle of Microsoft software includes the Windows XP operating system, Office suite, Internet Explorer, and portions of Windows Server 2003 and other applications. The service calls it a software image.

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Say hello to the Mozilla organization’s Firefox, an open-source upstart that could well give Internet Explorer a run for its money. Trim? You bet. Our download of Firefox took only a few seconds; the code is a svelte 6.2M in size. By comparison, you’ll download about 12M to get the latest version of Internet Explorer.
Canary Wireless offers an access point-detection unit called Digital Hotspotter that's smaller than a wireless phone, and at $59.95, it is less expensive than most wireless phones. The little unit has a single-line LCD display and a small button on the front. Press the button and the device will scan for access points within range. When it finds one, it reports the station identifier, if any, and signal strength, presence or absence of encryption, and the channel the network is running on.
Federal agencies must migrate to IPv6 by June 2008, according to the latest memo from Karen Evans, the Office of Management and Budget’s administrator of e-government and IT.
In the next three to five years, voice over IP and mobile devices that can run Internet-connected programs will become prevalent, according to Microsoft's Steve Ballmer.
Average roundtrip latency for data packets moving via the Internet across the United States has dropped to about 55 milliseconds, which compares favorably with the approximately 50 millisecond latency of leased-line communications.
Top Stories of the Year - 2006

CIOs want the power of the purse

January 2006

In many departments, the CIO does not have budget authority because of the agency's culture, history and organization.

Administration proposes three new lines of business for 2007

February 2006

The Bush administration says it will launch three new lines-of-business consolidation initiatives for IT infrastructure, budget formulation and geospatial investments.

OMB website lists federal program ratings

February 2006

OMB launches ExpectMore.gov, a website that provides clear and frank assessments of federal programs.

Fortress on the Hill

May 2006

The Capitol Visitor Center has 580,000 square feet underground, but officials won’t say whether it is a congressional bunker.

Feds struggle to measure IT value

May 2006

The Office of Management and Budget’s demand that agencies justify their spending on IT, as outlined in OMB Circular A-11, is one of several policy shifts in recent years that have forced agency leaders to measure the value of IT.

SGI files for Chapter 11

May 2006

Amid falling revenues and mounting debt, high-end computer maker Silicon Graphics Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. SGI has been a significant federal contract player in years past, working with agencies such as NASA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Beleaguered GTSI sheds reseller model

July 2006

GTSI, a bellwether of the government IT market, has been struggling to find a business model that will allow it to shake recent financial challenges. It is trying to shift from its old role as a reseller and become an IT services provider.

Air Force to create Cyber Command

November 2006

The Air Force plans to establish a new command to bring full-scale military operations to cyberspace. In fact, the Air Force recently tweaked its mission statement to reflect cyberspace's importance. The new mission is to "deliver sovereign options for the defense of the United States of America and its global interests -- to fly and fight in air, space and cyberspace."

Web 2.0 for feds

November 2006

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages one of its communications employees to establish a headquarters for the agency in Second Life, a website that hosts a 3-D alternate universe.

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Although conventional desktop PCs now regularly come with 256M to 512M of memory, high-end alternatives routinely pack 1G to 4G of RAM into their reserves.
A growing number of government agencies and public institutions are replacing clipboard and paper with portable computing devices called tablets, which use a pen-like writing instrument, handwriting recognition technology and software to handle chores such as organizing notes and completing forms.
Emerging trends such as business process management and service-oriented architecture fuel expectations that real-time information at an enterprise level is a realistic goal.
WiMax aims to build on Wi-Fi’s popularity. Wireless hot spots employing the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard have proliferated nationwide, but each access point provides coverage to an area measured in feet. WiMax, on the other hand, can offer as much as 31 miles of coverage on a line-of-sight basis.
A new Army mandate will require all Army computers to have a chip on the motherboard that is dedicated to performing security functions. The semiconductor, called the Trusted Platform Module, will interact with security features in Microsoft's upcoming Vista operating system.
Top Stories of the Year - 2007

Walker: DOD programs plagued by immature technology

January 2007

Comptroller General David Walker says the Army has moved major programs forward despite a lack of critical technologies, which causes cost overruns and sometimes makes it impossible to provide service members with the capabilities they need.

Panel pushes for better procurement data

January 2007

As part of its overall focus on more transparency in government contracting, the Acquisition Advisory Panel calls for a slew of changes to the way federal procurement data is gathered and processed.

New handhelds keep Census on paperless track

January 2007

Census takers will use about 1,400 of the new mobile computers in this spring’s address-collection dress rehearsal.

DOD says no to massive IT acquisitions

January 2007

The Defense Information Systems Agency plans to acquire computing capabilities as a managed service, buy easy-to-implement commercial solutions and subdivide large projects into smaller components.

Army awards DKO contract

March 2007

Defense Knowledge Online, a portal based on Army Knowledge Online, seeks to consolidate the military service portals into one entry point.

GSA awards Networx Universal

March 2007

The next generation of governmentwide network services contracts finally takes flight after years of development.

Creators of PART predict a lasting legacy

March 2007

The Program Assessment Rating Tool might not survive, but the culture it created most likely will.

Agencies fall short on HSPD-12 deadline

October 2007

Agencies fall far short of meeting the deadline for issuing secure identity verification cards to employees and contractors.

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The [federal enterprise architecture] is to government results as a playbook is to a football team. Included in the FEA is everything you do and how it all makes sense, but you still need good managers to pull it all together.
Our intention is for everything to the maximum extent possible, to be easily available, except for personal information and classified data.
Thin-client computing may now deserve another look, given proven financial benefits, continuing security concerns and recent technology twists.
Top Stories of the Year - 2008

OFPP tries to rein in GWACs

January 2008

New guidance is designed to limit the number of multi-agency contracts.

Stolen VA laptop caught in safety net

March 2008

The information stored on a stolen Veterans Affairs Department laptop is safe from prying eyes, thanks to the data encryption policies the agency instituted after one of its laptops was stolen in 2006.

New interagency contracts might need approval

June 2008

After years of concern about the proliferation of interagency contracts, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy finally begins applying some controls.

Agencies struggle with pay for performance

August 2008

Pay for performance has been heralded as a way to reward employees for the work they do rather than their time in service, but agencies are having a tough time making it work.

OMB encourages Networx use

September 2008

An Office of Management and Budget memo requires agencies to use the new Networx contract when acquiring services they had previously purchased through FTS 2001.

Obama moves to appoint transition team

November 2008

President-elect Barack Obama has begun forming the foundation for his administration, a best practice according to groups that advocate for effective government.

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After a number of false starts After a number of false starts, the Census Bureau is abandoning its plan to use tablet PCs for the 2010 count and returning to paper questionnaires.
In my experience, technology nearly always works. When you apply it to a problem, that's when the rub comes. Rob Carey, Navy Department CIO
Anyone who uses a government computer and thinks they have a shred of privacy is foolish. There's no way to provide that privacy [because] network traffic and records repositories can be viewed at many levels by many people. Always create e-mails as if a stranger is standing over your shoulder. John Tigue, in a reader comment.
Top Stories of the Year - 2009

GSA launches Alliant

February 2009

After a number of protests and delays, GSA opens its multibillion-dollar services contract for business.

Swine flu news infects social media

May 2009

An outbreak of swine flu helped prove the value of Twitter and other social networking sites.

DOD creates Cyber Command as U.S. Strategic Command subunit

June 2009

The command will address security threats in cyberspace.

NSPS: Anatomy of a failure

July 2009

Perhaps the most ambitious attempt to institute a pay-for-performance system in government has come crashing down.

Is Networx transition a third done or barely begun?

December 2009

Two years after agencies began transitioning to Networx, questions are already arising about how much progress they have made.

D.C. snow day could be telework learning experience

December 2009

The first of three massive snowstorms raises new questions about agencie'’ continuity-of-operations plans.

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We're just at the beginningof where the mobile space is going. Maj. Keith Parker, assistant project manager for the Army’s Go Mobile initiative
The appeal of [Second Life] for group meetings is that you can feel like you’re all in the same place even though you’re not. The visual cues create a really effective illusion. I can’t say if it has that effect on everyone. A lot of people might find it distracting. Michael Hardy, Federal Computer Week's news editor
If you can be a service-oriented enterprise, you can deliver things much more rapidly and make great progress. If you’re a meteorologist, for example, you don’t have to wait for the day that we build a big honking weather system. You can actually call those enterprise services and build yourself a Web services solution, publish it, and people can reuse it. Dave Wennergren, deputy CIO at the Defense Department
Top Stories of the Year - 2010

WikiLeaks upends digital security assumptions

July 2010

The thousands of classified documents made public by WikiLeaks has led to one indisputable conclusion so far: IT has changed the nature of the government leak.

Gates details plans to slash DOD budget

August 2010

In the first major reaction to the new era of austerity, Defense Secretary Robert Gates elaborates on plans to shave $100 billion from the defense budget.

MUMPS to be retained for VA VISTA system -- for now

August 2010

As part of its effort to modernize a 20-year-old medical record system, the Veterans Affairs Department decided to retain 15 million lines of code in an outdated programming language.

Feds could see pay freeze

November 2010

President Barack Obama proposes a two-year pay freeze for federal employees. It will eventually take effect.

New plan for IT management reform

December 2010

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra releases the Obama administration’s 25-point plan for reforming IT management.

President signs telework bill

December 2010

The law requires agencies to establish telework policies and seeks to expand the number of feds eligible to telework.

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Even though WikiLeaks has published pages and pages and pages of secret cables and documents, federal employees are under orders not to look at them.... The documents are there, available to anyone. Are feds who are interested really going to avoid looking because they're told to?
Cloud computing has hit the hype cycle quicker than anything. It is the single most overhyped term in the history of IT, eclipsing [service-oriented architecture] by probably an order of magnitude.
Even more worrisome [than the sheer number] is how rapidly these threats are hitting smart phones in comparison to the desktop. What took 15 years to evolve with the desktop machine is happening practically overnight in mobile handsets.
Top Stories of the Year - 2011

Federal employees could face unpaid leave in 2012

January 2011

This is the opening salvo in what will become a year-long struggle between congressional Republicans and the federal workforce.

Shutdown, furloughs averted at the 11th hour

April 2011

The first of three shutdown showdowns ends just hours before the deadline with a short-term budget agreement.

New website will track federal agencies' performance

May 2011

The debut of Performance.gov elevates the visibility of performance improvement efforts.

Agencies should plan for 10 percent budget cuts, OMB says

August 2011

The era of tighter belts becomes tangible with this directive from the Office of Management and Budget.

USAJobs 3.0 reboot getting fail reviews from users

October 2011

The revamped federal job search site debuts with a dizzying array of system failures and user complaints that ultimately took weeks to fix.

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Tech Talk
What difference does it make what device someone wants to play with at the office? The answer to [the question of connecting] to the network was/is always no. Why would you ever think differently? Keep your toys at home.
The key is the Extensible Business Reporting Language, a free global standard. Its 'tags' bond additional information to data to give it context. With the right support systems, the data could flow automatically and in real time to wherever it is needed. And data would only have to be entered once, thereby producing major improvements in accuracy and efficiency.
Top Stories of the Year - 2012

9 ways the defense bill's passage could affect your job

January 2012

The bill highlights a number of high-profile issues, including the Army's enterprise e-mail, DOD's broader use of cloud computing, contractor ethics and roles, and acquisition reform.

Obama pushes agency consolidation plan for savings

January 2012

President Barack Obama is asking Congress for authority to consolidate six agencies, including the Small Business Administration, into a single Cabinet-level agency overseeing trade and business. Soon after, it's revealed that the second phase of the reorganization would transfer at least six major Commerce Department agencies into the Interior Department or the newly created agency.

Gerry Connolly: Continued attacks on feds could trigger crisis

February 2012

The Virginia lawmaker says recent attacks on federal pay and benefits, coupled with the continuing rhetoric casting the government as bloated and underperforming, could lead to a crisis among federal employees and have a crushing impact on morale.

VA could give MS Office the boot

February 2012

As they look for ways to cut costs, Veterans Affairs Department officials are considering cloud-based alternatives to Microsoft Office.

DOD restructures oversight of departmentwide IT

February 2012

The Defense Department is re-establishing its CIO executive board as a single action-oriented forum that will address enterprisewide matters ranging from combat support to business systems.

GOP budget plan keeps federal workforce in the crosshairs

March 2012

The Republican proposal includes spending cuts aimed at reducing the deficit, extending the current freeze on federal employees' salaries through 2015 and reducing the federal workforce by 10 percent.

VA halts reverse auctions, citing 'violations' of contract hierarchy

March 2012

Jan Frye, deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics at VA, said reverse auctions are disrupting the department’s supply chain and have caused a groundswell of complaints from VA suppliers

Rep. Jeff Denham: 'Abolish GSA altogether'

April 2012

A Republican lawmaker wants to abolish the General Services Administration and possibly give the work to the private sector.

Debate kindles as Congress takes up the latest controversial cybersecurity bill

April 2012

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act is backed by more than 100 members of Congress and some of the biggest names in Internet business but faces heavy opposition from a number of privacy rights groups and the White House.

Lockheed Martin wins DC3 contract

May 2012

Lockheed Martin receives the Alliant task order to support DOD's Cyber Crime Center, with a ceiling value of $454 million.

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Tech Talk
More than 40 percent of global government respondents to a KPMG survey say they are testing or implementing cloud solutions, and nearly 30 percent are working on a cloud strategy.
Smart phones and tablet PCs are becoming the ultimate thin client. In conjunction with other solutions for ensuring security and partitioning workloads, virtual desktop infrastructure could let agencies dole out virtual desktops to a wide range of devices.
Some say making IT systems a moving target for hackers and centralizing cybersecurity policy will turn around current flawed approaches to security.
Soldiers can now access 12 mobile applications on personal smart phones and tablet PCs as part of the Army's latest efforts to establish an online storefront for mobile software.