Federal Triangle

NASA makes the list

NASA was rated the best place to work in the federal government in a new survey released last week by the Partnership for Public Service and American University's Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation. But that doesn't mean the space agency is free of problems.

Another survey released last week found that NASA's workers are still afraid to discuss safety issues.

"We've got a lot of work to do," said NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe.

Parlez vous anything?

The FBI has been suffering on several fronts as it faces scrutiny of its pre-Sept. 11, 2001, operations. But one lesser-known area under inspection is the bureau's language specialists.

The FBI has a chronic shortage of qualified language specialists, according to the 9-11 Commission. Their summaries and translations are usually not uploaded into a searchable database and not systematically analyzed for intelligence value. Case agents and analysts don't coordinate with them sufficiently.

As a result, the language specialists often lack the "proper context to understand the significance of otherwise innocuous references they hear or read," a commission briefing paper said. And that's a pretty scary thought.

Politics on the Net

A Duquesne University Law School student has been trying to get the Web's major search engines to highlight John Kerry's official Web site whenever anyone searches for the word "waffles." The stunt worked for awhile, but eventually search engines got wind of the prank and cut it off.

Diplomacy becomes electronic

State Department Secretary Colin Powell and U.S. Archivist John Carlin met last week in the department's diplomatic reception rooms for a historic handoff of electronic diplomatic records. It was the first transfer of such records from State to the National Archives and Records Administration, according to a department spokesman.

The records, dating from July 1973 to December 1974, comprise about 700,000 declassified documents that NARA officials will process and make available to the public on the Internet.

Since 1973, the department has stored its electronic records in a central electronic archive that now has about 28 million digital records. State officials said the department will soon replace its old diplomatic messaging system with a new one that lets diplomatic officers send, archive and retrieve diplomatic messages from a desktop or laptop computer. It will be a big change, and State officials are in close touch with officials in NARA's Electronic Records Archives program to ensure that both agencies stay in sync.

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FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


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    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

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    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

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