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Welcome to the blogosphere

In the Sept. 3 issue of Federal Computer Week, we reported on the State Department’s e-diplomacy efforts. State took another leap into the Web 2.0 world last week when it launched its first blog.
Called “Dipnote,” the blog promises readers an insider view of diplomats and U.S. diplomacy in a less formal tone than you might hear in the halls of State’s headquarters in Washington’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood.

“With Dipnote, we are going to take you behind the scenes at the State Department and bring you closer to the personalities of the department. We are going to try and break through some of the jargon and talk about how we operate around the world,” spokesman Sean McCormack wrote in his first post.

McCormack added that writing for such a wide audience could be challenging. “We’re new at this,” he wrote. “It looks like we broke our own rule and used State jargon in our blog title. ‘Dipnote’ refers to a diplomatic note. It is one of the many way in which governments formally communicate with each other.”

McCormack explained further: “The dictionary definition of a diplomaatic note is: ‘a formal communication between an ambassador and a minister (usually the foreign minister) of his host government or another ambassador.’ ”

When we checked Sept. 27, the first post had 25 comments.
In one of the comments, a person identified as a GenXer from California said, “It appears that I am the first commentator on your first entry. I am very interested in how the State Department works internally as well as in their communications with foreign governments. As the Governator has said…, ‘I'll be back.’ ”

And we’ll keep watching.

In case they didn’t hear

Office of Management and Budget officials must be worried that vendors aren’t taking seriously a mandate that agencies use the federal government’s Windows secure desktop configuration standard.
Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for e-government and information technology, held a meeting Sept. 20 with representatives of a half dozen IT associations to spread the word that if software vendors do not have a certified Microsoft Windows driver and do not run on the baseline standard, agencies will not buy their products. The meeting also reinforced the role integrators must play in ensuring that the products they use work within the baseline standard.

“OMB is a little concerned that companies may not have focused on this yet, and they want to make sure there are
no gaps when agencies enforce it,” said Olga Grkavac, the IT Association of America’s executive vice president. “We will redouble our efforts to make sure our members are aware, too, and if we hear any concerns, we can tell OMB in an organized fashion.”

OMB issued a series of memos this summer that require agencies to include language in contracts stipulating that federal vendors and contractors not tamper with the standard configuration.

OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy is leading an effort to update the Federal Acquisition Regulation to include the secure desktop configuration standard.

OMB should have people’s attention now.

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