Circuit

Low-tech attack; 401(k) plans; emergency directory; making money.

Low-tech attack

We hear that Asa Hutchinson, undersecretary for the Border and Transportation Security Directorate at the Homeland Security Department, recently faced his own little hack attack. Employees at a California radio station didn't like something Hutchinson said about homeland security, so they said his office e-mail address and direct phone number on the air.

Needless to say, Hutchinson was forced to change his DHS e-mail address and phone number quickly.

Have 401(k), can travel

Federal employees are about to be treated like any other investor with money.

Until now, they've only been allowed to change their 401(k) retirement plans twice a year. But most investors — large and small — can elect to change their investments anytime. On July 21, the House Government Reform Committee approved giving federal workers the same investment flexibility everyone else has. The Senate is expected to approve it, too.

The lack of flexibility was the result of the Thrift Savings Plan, which handles federal investments, not having the capacity to change investments quickly, according to Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), the panel's chairman. But as government has become electronic, it is no longer an issue.

"Open seasons served the program well when it was begun in 1987 because it lacked the administrative capability to quickly enroll participants and implement investment elections on a real-time basis," Davis said. "This is not the case today, as TSP now offers participants daily account transactions."

It's about time!

Hello? Is anybody out there?

Officials at a not-for-profit consortium are planning to develop a national electronic directory of public and private emergency response agency contact information listing more than 100,000 important numbers nationwide. But this is not your regular Yellow Pages.

Officials at the consortium, the ComCARE Alliance, have received a grant from the Justice Department to develop a geographic information system-enabled Emergency Provider Access Directory. In the event of an emergency, the information could be quickly transmitted directly to appropriate authorities without trying to figure out whether St. Michael's Hospital is listed before or after the pages starting with "Sa."

When fact is scarier than fiction

Robert Redford's new movie, "The Clearing," may be a fictionalized account of a kidnapping, but it's no laughing matter for the thousands of Americans deployed by the U.S. government worldwide.

Mindful of that, State Department officials awarded a crisis management training contract worth $10 million to ITA Inc.

Under the contract, ITA officials will develop 130 country-specific crisis scenarios for State Department employees and train those who would implement Emergency Action Plans worldwide. The locations selected for crisis scenarios include parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, where the threat level to American citizens remains high.

"There are a lot of places in the world where being an American makes you a target," said Bert Mizusawa, president of ITA. "The more we can prepare for specific threats to our citizens and facilities, the safer it will be to travel and work beyond our national borders."

Making money hand over foot

The Wall Street Journal reports that an Indianapolis bail bondsman named Kerry Edwards has decided to sell his 3-year-old Web site www.kerryedwards.com through an online auction.

It also seems that Edwards is seeking at least $150,000 for the rights to the site. Any buyers?

Got a tip? Send it to circuit@fcw.com.

NEXT STORY: Committee debates animal IDs

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