Letters

Readers talk about authentic documents, getting information at 3 a.m. and RFID technology.

My stuff is authentic

Your May 9 article "Fugitive documents elude preservationists" casts doubt on the authenticity of documents posted at my Web site, The Memory Hole (www.thememoryhole.org). Because I was never contacted during the writing of this article, I would now like to respond to this slight.

I get most of my material through the Freedom of Information Act, which leaves an easily verifiable trail. I explain exactly how I get my documents, which means that Federal Computer Week's reporters, editors and fact checkers have no excuse for besmirching them.

Specifically, the article names the document "The U.S. Army Radioactive Waste Disposal Program in the United States." If you read the page on which this report is posted, you see that it was given to me March 1 by the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which runs the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, in partial fulfillment of a FOIA request I filed. FOIA Officer Deborah Dennis gives her e-mail address and phone number.

The other material implicitly questioned in the article is "Disease Vector Risk Assessment Profiles from the Navy." These previously unavailable reports were supplied by frequent contributor Michael Ravnitzky, one of the country's leading FOIA experts. Again, the page on which the profiles are posted explains precisely how they were received from the government.

If FCW staffers had used this information to call the Navy Environmental Health Center's FOIA officer, they would have gotten immediate confirmation that those documents — like all the others that I post — are indeed authentic.

The Memory Hole is a labor of love that I run in my nonexistent spare time out of my own pocket, the purpose being to inform people about what their government is doing, has done and plans to do. It's a shame to have my credibility questioned when the facts are so easy to verify.

Russ Kick
The Memory Hole

Why not 3 a.m.?

Thanks for your informative and interesting story titled "Fixing the retirement system" [FCW, May 2]. In response to the last question that Christian Weller, a senior economist at the Center for American Progress, posed, I'd say that if you had most of your nest egg tied up with the Office of Personnel Management's control of the retirement system, then yes, as you approach retirement, you could want answers at 3 a.m. One reason the online Thrift Savings Plan system works so well is for exactly that reason: I can get TSP information 24 hours a day.

W.A. Ballweber
Office of Justice Programs
Justice Department

After all, some of us work nights

As a federal worker years away from retirement, I hope OPM can get the kinks out of the retirement system. I question Weller's view of what constitutes bells and whistles.

As someone who works nights along with thousands of other federal workers, having a question at 3 a.m. is not unusual. What Weller and others fail to realize is that work life is not 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and hasn't been for quite a long time.

Patti Pasell

And it's not 3 a.m. here

In your May 2 article "Fixing the retirement system," Weller asks, " 'Do people really need a question answered at 3 a.m.?' "

I live in Germany. When it's 3 a.m. in Washington, D.C., it's 9 a.m. here and 9 p.m. the day before in Hawaii. Which eight-hour block would OPM propose to take care of its global retiree base?

Stephen D. Abney

Don't compare RFID to bar codes

Your April 18 article "RFID's positive identification" was great. However, I would have strongly recommended that the discussion about the types of radio frequency identification technology — passive, active and semi-active — be way up in the front of the story. Otherwise it tends to lull the reader into thinking, "This is easy."

I would not equate the RFID tag to a bar code. It took the simple Universal Product Code for bar codes 15 to 20 years to become ubiquitous, so I would not be surprised to find it taking almost as long for RFID to reach that level of saturation.

EPCglobal has a challenge in getting passive RFID to become ubiquitous.

Here at the Navy, we would be bringing boxes and pallets past portals, which would present challenges for reading the passive RFID tags.

It may be more fruitful to apply semi-active RFID tags to those pallets. That would increase the ability to read the tag at a greater distance. Plus, the semi-active tags could last longer and potentially have energy-scavenging capabilities, eliminating the need for batteries.

George Ganak
Naval Supply Systems Command

NEXT STORY: Remembering MIA's for Memorial Day

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