Circuit

A few more millionaires

Although there are legal restrictions on Science Applications International Corp.'s internal and external communications while company officials ponder an initial public offering, on Dec. 16 employees who hold stock will vote on whether to take the company public and set the wheels in motion for an IPO in early 2006. The employee-owned stock is currently valued at about $43 a share.

The vote is expected to carry. That could make some employees millionaires and quite a few old-timers multimillionaires if SAIC joins other government integrators in the stock market.

There are still a few uncertainties as one of the largest government integrators decides its future course. We're told that some SAIC folks are waiting to see if another company or a group of venture capitalists will try to buy SAIC.

Not being business tycoons, we have no idea whether buying the company would be a good deal. We do know, however, that more than 25,000 of SAIC's 43,000 employees have security clearances -- a highly valued status not easy to come by in these days of super-secret programs and clearance backlogs.

Privacy at all costs

The Homeland Security Department's Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee will hold an open meeting Dec. 6 in Washington, D.C., to discuss the steps people can take if they think DHS has violated their privacy.

The committee will accept public input on that process, but it's unlikely to incorporate any suggestions right away now that Chairman Paul Rosenzweig has stepped down to become chief legal counsel to DHS' undersecretary for policy. New York attorney Lisa Sotto is acting chairwoman, but the 20-member committee must vote on a replacement for Rosenzweig.

Digitizing the world's libraries

The Library of Congress recently announced a $3 million donation from Google for a public/private World Digital Library that will make written works freely available online.

To avoid making the project sound like part of Google's controversial plan to publish snippets of material from public and university libraries, Library of Congress officials are choosing their words carefully.

The press release notes that materials in the World Digital Library will either be in the public domain or made available by special permission.

Publishers are suing to prevent Google from digitizing copyrighted material without their permission. Google is scanning material in the New York Public Library and several university libraries, including those at Harvard and Oxford.

Google has already scanned about 5,000 public-domain books with the Library of Congress' help as part of a yearlong project.

Librarian of Congress James Billington said the World Digital Library will bring together "rare and unique cultural materials held in U.S. and Western repositories with those of other great cultures, such as those that lie beyond Europe and involve more than 1 billion people: Chinese East Asia, Indian South Asia and the worlds of Islam stretching from Indonesia through Central and West Asia to Africa."

Being prepared

Despite being publicly humiliated and nearly hounded out of office, former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown has decided to stick with disaster recovery.

He recently announced that he's forming a firm to help communities avoid the kind of chaos that occurred in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. And although he was criticized for the government's lack of preparedness, he said potential clients have already expressed interest in his new endeavor, according to the Rocky Mountain News. n

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

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