Federal Bytes

Y2K SEMANTICS. People always are asking Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), chairman of the Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem, whether everything will be all right come Jan. 1, 2000.

It seems he has a stock answer, which he shared with attendees at a policy summit held by the Information Technology Association of America last week in Washington, D.C.

"Not to be overly Clintonian about it," Bennett told the audience, but "it depends on your definition of 'all right.' "

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CREDIT WHERE IT'S NOT DUE. Republicans are not letting up in their jabs at Vice President Al Gore, who this month in an interview with CNN claimed to have created the Internet. "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet," he told CNN.

FCW reported in last week's Federal Bytes that F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Science Committee, had released a statement that proclaimed, "Gore taking credit for creating the Internet certainly gives new meaning to the term 'March Madness.' "

Soon thereafter, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and formerly flannel-shirted Republican presidential hopeful Lamar Alexander came out with tongue-in-cheek statements of their own, claiming credit for great inventions. Lott took credit for the paper clip, and Alexander took credit for plaid.

But wait, there's more! Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) joked last week at a breakfast held by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association that he had issued his own press release claiming credit for development of the microchip. And, he added, still more lawmakers were getting into the credit-taking game. In fact, Davis said, 96-year-old Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) had issued a press release taking credit for the wheel.

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IT KILLS BUGS DEAD. Just in case John Koskinen, chairman of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, can't fix the federal government's Year 2000 computer problem before the millennium, he was given a special gift as backup to help him with the job.

At a recent Year 2000 meeting for state technology leaders, Mike Benzen, Missouri's chief information officer, left Koskinen a can of millennium bug spray at the podium. "I don't think we need bug spray,'' Benzen said. "I'm going to leave it for John in case the federal government needs it.''

Koskinen retorted, "It looks like a pretty good can of bug spray to me."

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2000: A Y2K ODYSSEY. To introduce the CIO Council's effort to look beyond the Year 2000 computer problem, Commerce Department CIO Alan Balutis, emcee of the council's keynote address at FOSE, brought in a helper: HAL from "2001: A Space Odyssey."

In one of the more surreal moments at the FOSE convention, Balutis played straight man to the renegade computer, which told the crowd that the Year 2000 computer shutdown "wasn't our fault." Was this an indication of deniability of any computer problems that may pop up Jan. 1?

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TRIGGER-HAPPY. Treasury Department CIO Jim Flyzik probably preferred the warm reception he got from the crowd at the keynote speech for FOSE last week over the treatment he received at other venues.

For example, appearing with Attorney General Janet Reno at another FOSE talk, Flyzik saw a sign cautioning photographers, "Do not photograph the speakers at the podium; shoot them on the way to the stage." Flyzik was, he confided, a little worried about how that might be taken in a room full of Justice Department people.

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OVEREXPOSED. The Marine Corps could have used the assistance of a few modeling and simulation applications to gauge the play-by-play of its Urban Warrior exercise, which tested the use of high-tech gear in a city. The exercise wrapped up last week in San Francisco.

Although simulations probably would not have helped the Marines learn new tactics, it could have gone a long way in predicting the ways the army of cameramen would try to cover the event, such as running behind Marines as they searched for a chemical weapon. The Corps' low-tech public affairs team, last seen shouting at the media to stay out of the exercise area, is rumored to have resigned en masse for higher-paying jobs in Silicon Valley.

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