Intercepts

AFCEA conference consolidated into 3 in 1
The theme for the Army and AFCEA International’s LandWarNet conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., last month was “delivering joint integrated solutions to the warfighter today.” The Army easily could have added “with less money” to the end of that.

The service let the conference proceed despite severe spending restrictions that limit all nonessential travel. The Army classified it as a training event because of the many informational sessions, and anyone who attended undoubtedly learned a good deal.

In addition to talking warfighter tech, conference attendees frequently discussed hurricanes — partially because the past two LandWarNet conferences were abruptly cut short by hurricanes that forced everyone to flee for their lives. The theme was so pervasive that Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle, the Army’s chief information officer, said the conference planners were “poking the devil in the eye.”

This year, the conference ended Aug. 25, three days before Tropical Storm Ernesto reached the Florida coast. AFCEA and the Army plan to hold next year’s conference at the same time and place.

We know about insurance for travelers, but is there insurance for conferences?

Vendors seek ROI on coffee
Corporate sponsorship at the AFCEA conference was so widespread that the Interceptor felt like he was at a NASCAR race. Everything from meals to wheels bore the logos of one vendor or another. Probably the most successful product placement was the now annual Hurricane Party, an evening get-together sponsored by ManTech International.

But not every sponsor got the recognition it purchased. For example, when keynote speeches ran long, Col. Andy Seward, the gracious emcee, told attendees to skip their coffee break. That probably didn’t please the companies that sponsored those coffee klatches.

Not to worry. Everyone eventually got their coffee — and the sponsors got their recognition.

Conference travel woes
Nearly everyone has a tale of travel problems these days, even VIPs.

The conference occurred while the Transportation Security Administration’s new restrictions on liquids were in place. So most travelers were already more alert than usual.

But even if you follow the security guidelines to a T, you can’t evade human error. More than 50 conference attendees, including the Interceptor, spent an extra day in Florida after a four-hour delay turned into a flight cancellation. Airport workers crashed the jetway against the side of the plane when it arrived at the terminal, rendering it unable to fly.

Many attendees were put on a flight the next day. After difficult negotiations, the Interceptor found himself on the same flight as several Army generals. Surely their flight would go off without a hitch, right?

But alas, after reaching Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, we learned that the airline had misplaced the flight’s baggage.

I won’t mention the airline, but it may have lost a customer or two because of the mess.

Bloggers find the Porkmaster
Back in Washington, D.C., the blogosphere was furiously buzzing in an effort to deduce which senator was anonymously holding up passage of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), would establish a Web-searchable database that contains information on all federal contracts and grants.

In a Web-roots campaign, various bloggers joined efforts to encourage their loyal readers to pester every senator to deny that he was the one holding up the legislation. Finally, through the process of elimination, the bloggers say they found the answer: Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).

On Aug. 30, after weeks of refusing to comment, Stevens’ office confirmed that he did have a hold on the bill.

The legislation is interesting. The government already has a contract database, but many experts say its data isn’t all that it can be. Would another law change that?

About that unused buying power
The Army Small Computer Program has a new boss to answer to — at least temporarily. ASCP, which was part of the Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems, is now under the operational control of the PEO for Command Control Communications Tactical.

Boutelle and Lt. Gen. Joe Yakovac, military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, authorized the reporting change after realizing that the tactical community wasn’t taking advantage of the buying power ASCP offers.

PEO-C3T also houses the Common Hardware Systems program, which has some product overlap with ASCP.

ASCP project director Michelina LaForgia said she will use the time to coordinate efforts between ASCP and CHS, while making sure that deployed soldiers know that they are obliged to try to use ASCP resources when buying computers.

The move will be reviewed after 60 days, in mid-October.

Intercept something? Send it to jrogin@fcw.com.

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