Letters to the Editor

Notion of saving money

I read with concern the many statements by industry and some Congressional personnel regarding the FAA's award of the ICEMAN contract to the Agriculture Department.

It is not the responsibility of government to provide corporate welfare to private industry (timber land and mining policies notwithstanding). The responsibility of the FAA is to deliver services to the taxpayer at the most reasonable cost. The USDA evidently met that requirement best for this contract.

Industry and Congress evidently believe that the government should be obligated to spend money with industry even if that means the cost is significantly higher. As a taxpayer (and a member of the IT industry) I object.

No one tells Fortune 500 companies that they must spend money on the outside if they can save money by doing things in-house. The often-noted notion that industry can provide these services more efficiently is contradicted by the many failures of major IT systems run by the private sector. The record is far from exemplary. The fee for service government centers do in fact benefit many IT providers. They buy hardware software and services from many sources in order to provide the capabilities they offer to other government agencies.

Congress has cut federal budgets by significant amounts yet these agencies are still expected to provide the same services to the taxpayers. Now some in Congress want to further hamstring federal IT managers by insisting that they pay more for programs than is necessary. Is this a great country or what?

Sharon RayMcLean Va.

A contradiction in terms

According to the news article "Industry Congress fear chilling effect from FAA pact to USDA" [FCW May 26] "members of Congress and industry are concerned...[about] an unfair competitive advantage" of the federal agencies over the private sector.

I was particularly intrigued by the comment by Linda Berdine a government subcontractor who said "It's difficult to be cost-competitive against the government." I find this angst positively amusing. For the last 20 years or so Congress industry and several presidents have been urging the government to contract out business services on the theory that the private sector is more efficient and cost-effective. Is there not a contradiction here?

Ben BerliantWashington D.C.

NARA's site packed with treasures

I am writing in regards to L. Scott Tillett's article "Federal Web sites good need tuning" [FCW May 19]. The National Archives and Records Administration like the Library of Congress uses its Web site to educate and inform American citizens.

Through the Web site www.nara.gov NARA provides not only information on location and hours for citizens who choose to visit one of its nationwide facilities but also on-line access to exhibits educational packets and descriptions of the holdings.

The Online Exhibit Hall displays digital copies of the Charters of Freedom: the Declaration of Independence the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and images and sound recordings of federal records that physically link us to our national history.

Through the Electronic Access Project www.nara.gov/nara/vision/eapover.html NARA is making it easier than ever for people to find and use documents from the holdings. This project although still in the developmental phase will eventually result in a virtual card catalog of all NARA holdings nationwide including those in the presidential libraries and regional archives.

In addition copies of more than 100 000 of NARA's most popular and significant manuscripts photographs sound recordings maps and drawings and other documents will be digitized and available for researchers to view on-line. Until this project is complete Web surfers can access more than 250 000 descriptions and links to 3 500 digital documents via a prototype database the NARA Archival Information Locator www.nara.gov/nara/nail.html.

We invite Mr. Tillett and all Federal Computer Week subscribers to visit the NARA Web site and discover the documentary treasures of our nation.

Lydia J. E. ReidActing PagemasterNational Archives and Records Administration

Presentation

In the June 2 edition of Federal Computer Week an item printed in "Federal Bytes" was incorrect.The item "It's trick photography" relates that Mr. James Earl Jones presented the Hammer Awards to the recipients.

Mr. Jones did not present Hammer Awards. Mr. David J. Barram GSA's administrator presented the Hammer Awards and Mr. Jones presented signed phone book covers to the recipients.

Jack L. FinleyDirectorBlue Pages Project

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