The Circuit

Preparing for the Handoff

It's getting to be that time in the political season when federal agencies write up transition reports for the next administration, no matter who takes office. Treasury Department Chief Information Officer Jim Flyzik said most agencies are thinking about the process. The CIO Council, which he co-chairs, has formed teams that are working with industry associations to develop briefing papers for the next administration.

"There clearly is a need to look at it from an information technology perspective — in agencies as well as governmentwide — [including such issues as] records retention [and] historical record preservation," Flyzik said.

Back to the Stone Age

And speaking of transitions, it may be the age of the paperless society, but the federal government doesn't know it when it comes to presidential appointees. Most presidential appointees in the next administration will have to find a typewriter or fill out by hand more than 30 pages of questions required for confirmation. That includes questions from the FBI about where they've lived for the past seven years and the names of friends as far back as high school.

With the exception of a few enlightened agencies, including the departments of Agriculture and Energy and the General Services Administration, which have made financial disclosure forms available online, presidential appointees still have to fill out all their tax data, investment data and salary history by hand. "It's keeping the typewriter industry going," said Paul Light, vice president of the Brookings Institution. "It's really a nightmare." What's in a Name?

In order to sidestep political mud- slinging and put in place a much- needed system to track cyberattacks and intrusions across civilian agencies, GSA is dropping the name of its Federal Intrusion Detection Network program. Rather than treat the "program formerly known as FIDNet" as a distinct entity, GSA is simply folding its capabilities into the agency's existing security activities.

Officials within agencies, Congress and the private sector agree that there needs to be a way to promote a big-picture view of security incidents across government. Unfortunately, it has been impossible to get past the rhetoric from Congress and privacy advocacy groups following an article claiming that FIDNet would monitor private-sector systems as well. So, according to agency sources, GSA, which has been in charge of the initiative from the beginning, has decided to go forward with plans for the system while dropping plans for a separate program and the baggage attached to its name.

My Summer Vacation

Some people head to the beach, others to the mountains. But Anne Reed, formerly CIO at the USDA and now vice president of the global industry group at Electronic Data Systems Corp., went to Honduras, spending nine days working at a home for abused and abandoned girls in San Pedro Sula. Along with other volunteers, she painted, varnished, cleared a field and helped build houses. "They wanted us more for our brawn than our brains," she said. But she also helped set up a room with 16 computers that are hooked up to the Internet. It was her fourth trip to the community, which she has supported for years through Christ Church in Alexandria, Va.

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