Intercepts

Buy a lot of gangplanks. President Clinton did the DOD acquisition work force a big favor by vetoing the Defense authorization bill. A provision buried in the boilerplate (Sec. 906) calls for reducing the acquisition work force by 15,000 people by Oct. 1. Think of the savings if the same language only applied to Hill staff members. Oops, I forgot: They're all "essential."

Don't relax yet. Industry lobbyists expect the Defense authorization bill to eventually see the light of day, with the work-force reduction intact as well as other language that directly impacts jobs. This includes pilot programs to outsource payrolls for nonappropriated fund payrolls; privatization of vendor overpayment audits and commercialization of travel processing at three to six bases.

IT funds freed? The final version of the Defense bill would also remove the $2.4 billion spending cap on major DOD IT programs imposed by the House but still puts the Air Force BLSM and Army SIDPERS-3 systems under intense scrutiny.

American goulash. Phone companies fight hard for any bit of DOD business they can get. But two of the Baby Bells are picking up some DOD comm in Hungary—site of the Bosnian peace operation logistics bases—without even trying. That's because Ameritech owns roughly 30 percent of the Hungarian phone company, while US West has a piece of the Hungarian mobile telephone system. Reports from our Sava River, Hungary, antenna site indicate the first comm at the world's most famous floating bridge was from an Army tactical vehicle with a Hungarian mobile phone.

The Ma Bell strategy? AT&T's protest against the DISN buy reads like a blast from the past, when one company provided phone service, locally and nationally. AT&T says this is the most cost-effective strategy for DISN.

The Interceptor thinks this tack ties in with the firm's plans to get back into the local phone business in its commercial and residential operations. The DISN protest, I hear, does not exist in isolation but is tied to a larger plan to reinvent the new AT&T looking pretty much like the old Ma Bell. I can't wait until they start offering those black phones again.

Timing isn't everything. Figure this one out: AT&T asked for an extension on the DISN bids until Jan. 2, only to submit its bids early, on Dec. 29, the same day it filed the protest. Someone must have planned a long New Year's weekend in New Jersey.

Soft ball, hard ball. The week before the protest, AT&T and DISA held their DCTN user conference in Orlando, Fla., with Lt. Gen. Al. Edmonds from DISA and Harry Carr and Dick Lombardi from AT&T all enduring, I'm sure, a hard confab grind. You'd think they would have gone to the Magic Kingdom, which promises happy endings to all.

How about "irritating and awful"? In its protest against DISN, AT&T rolled out that trite legal phrase, saying DISA acted "arbitrarily and capriciously" in denying the company a chance to submit an integrated bid.

Send your choice of words to replace this hackneyed phrase to the Interceptor at brewin@digex.access.net.

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