Circuit

Homeland insecurity

To support homeland security, port officials and shippers are supposedly tightening the gaps along the nation's waterways.

But a Federal Computer Week staffer recently spotted some security lapses while traveling on the Cape May-Lewes ferry across the Delaware Bay. Passengers traveling from Cape May, N.J., to Lewes, Del., were required to empty their pockets and pass through a metal detector. But passengers heading north from Delaware to New Jersey were allowed to walk onto the ferry without a second glance from the ticket

collector.

"We're exploring the option of getting another unit," said Jim Salmon, spokesman for the Delaware River and Bay Authority. But he said the authority lacks the money to buy another metal detector to screen the annual traffic of 1.1 million passengers and 350,000 vehicles.

Instead, three bomb-sniffing dogs search all commercial vehicles and randomly search passenger vehicles before they are loaded onto the ferries. A few plainclothes security officers are onboard, too. Car 54, where are you?

Don't trust the pizza guy

Can ordering pizza be unhealthy to your privacy?

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, a mundane task such as ordering a pizza could result in a privacy intrusion, thanks to weak privacy laws and new technologies.

An online video created by the ACLU shows that a pizza parlor could search for a caller's medical records, employment history, credit card information and more personal details based on the information provided by callers and with the aid of a computer.

"The fact is that new technologies and new government policies are eroding our personal privacy and creating a 24-hour total surveillance society," said Anthony Romero, the ACLU's executive director. "We need to reach people on a basic level and show them how this massive erosion of privacy could have a real impact on their daily lives, even in their late-night pizza deliveries."

To view the ACLU's video, go to www.aclu.org/pizza/index.html.

Keeps on growin'

Offshore outsourcing may be a dirty word in some parts of the United States, but Chinese officials are embracing the movement of jobs to their country. They will hold an Outsourcing China Fair 2005 in Shenzhen. Officials call it the first and largest outsourcing event in China.

In an e-mail message sent to vendors and associations, the conference's organizers said, "With the rapid development of economic globalization ... the spirit of outsourcing has been well established by most managers in the world in order to sharpen their operations' competitive advantages."

There has been no word on the size of the event, which will occur June 8-10, 2005. But Chinese officials are certainly eager to develop their international outsourcing presence. For more information, check out their Web site (www.outsourcing.org.cn).

Texas looks for better deal

When a new chief information officer joins an organization, changes are expected, but Texas CIO Larry Olson is taking those expectations and running with them. In three months on the job, Olson has already instituted a complete reorganization of the information technology department and unveiled a sweeping plan for creating a single, statewide information infrastructure.

Those initiatives will continue, but now he has set his sights on Texas' industry partners and the contracts they hold with the state. The government has significant buying power, with more than 150,000 seats, and yet the pricing in the majority of the IT contracts does not reflect that volume, Olson said earlier this month at the Western CIO Forum in Santa Fe, N.M. At least part of this is because of the proliferation of smaller contracts for customized systems, he said.

The result is that all of Texas' IT contracts are going to be evaluated for renegotiation. Also, officials are considering creating a larger contract that will be open to the state's local governments, and they are planning to approach state legislators about expanding the law that allows reselling to locals so that Texas can also open contracts for use by other states, Olson said.

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