Federal Bytes

An idea man

Wondering what sort of a manager Dennis Fischer the incoming FTS honcho will be? Is he an innovator open to new ideas? Does he appreciate the diversity of agencies' needs and the challenges of deploying new technologies?

A presentation Fischer gave at the recent CardTech/SecureTech smart card conference this month may offer a clue. Touting the potential of using credit cards as the platform for government smart card applications Fischer passed around his own prototype of the smart card of the future: GSA's current "smart" identification card taped together with an American Express card.

Nothing beats a low-tech solution to a high-tech problem.

Clipper revisited?

We could almost hear the sound of eyeballs rolling last week when Rep. Greg Ganske (R-Iowa) argued in support of an amendment that would give federal investigators what amounts to a spare key for opening encrypted messages sent on U.S. networks or using U.S. encryption technology. Ganske laying out his reasons for supporting the amendment said he just didn't want the bad guys to be able to stroll into any old software store and buy nearly uncrackable encryption software for less than $30.

Amendment opponents explained that regardless of whether the amendment eventually became law the bad guys would be able to get that nearly uncrackable software for free over the Internet - with little or no strolling involved.

Welcome to the wonderful world of electronic commerce.

Recommended reading

In a meeting at GSA headquarters last week we came across an interesting document. GSA has issued a list of recommended books for federal executives all of which are available at GSA's library. The books deal with issues such as effective management overcoming bureaucracy empowerment and applying technology to leadership challenges.

Titles include Stephen Covey'sThe Seven Habits of Highly Effective People Phil Jackson'sSacred Hoops David Osborne's einventing Government Alvin Toffler's Creating a New Civilization Michael Schrage'sShared Minds and Peter M. Senge'sThe Fifth Discipline.

While we do not believe that any of the 24 titles on the list are soon to be a major motion picture the book critics at GSA have given them all a hearty thumbs up. You can get a copy of the list by calling Peggy Johnson at (202) 501-0788.


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