FEDERAL BYTES

NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement (SEWP) has a "mascot" of sorts - a duck relaxing in a soup bowl. The Marx Brothers would have been proud. After all, "Duck Soup" remains one of the Brothers' most famous films.

We're not sure what the connection is between NASA and the Marx Brothers, but we're convinced one exists. Corroborating evidence: the World Wide Web address for a Goddard Code 520 Web server is http://groucho.gsfc.nasa.gov.

Arnold's robotic co-star

Visits to a CIA data center inspired Warner Bros. to cast three StorageTek PowderHorn robotic cartridge libraries in the film "Eraser," Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest action film.

In the movie,Vanessa Williams' character downloads files containing the design of an assault weapon from a PowderHorn library. The PowderHorn also appeared in the 1994 film "Clear and Present Danger."

Fortunately, you don't have to be a CIA employee to get a glimpse of this movie star. StorageTek said about 500 of the units have been installed at federal agencies ranging from the Environmental Protection Agency to the National Security Agency.

Name that czar

On a recent airing of WETA's "Technopolitics," Sen. Daniel Patrick Moy-nihan (D-N.Y.) called for the creation of a Year 2000 "czar."

The millennium leader would make sure government agencies were retooling their systems to adjust to the date change, Moynihan said, adding that 2000 is a pressing problem for government and industry.

It seems straightforward enough. But who would President Clinton elevate to 2000 czardom?

We'd like to hear ideas for nominees from FCW readers. Send your ideas to jmoore@fcw.com.

Using their own discretion

The flexible regulations guiding the Federal Aviation Administration's procurements have raised an interesting question: Will the agency be the sole arbiter of protests filed against its own purchases?

Don't laugh; this is not as absurd as it may sound. Procurement attorney Trisa Thompson of Seyfarth, Shaw, Fairweather & Geraldson said the U.S. Postal Service was faced with a similar question last year when the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia ruled it had no jurisdiction to rule on USPS protests.

Because USPS is not subject to the same procurement rules that govern other agencies, vendors have no choice but to file internal protests with the agency. If USPS officials reject the pro-tests, vendors have no-where else to take their complaints, according to Thompson.

Will the same thing happen at the FAA? Stay tuned.

Didn't the Spanish Armada lose?

While we were pleased that Compaq Computer Corp. discontinued its recent trend of using made-up words for the names of its new products, the announcement of the Armada notebooks has left us scratching our heads. Surely the word "armada" carries with it the inevitable association with the Spanish Armada and its defeat at the hands of the English navy.

Did Compaq really mean to name its new notebooks after a famous military defeat? Were Waterloo and Dunkirk already taken? Did the company like the image of sunken ships? If so, how about Titanic or Lusitania?

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