Federal Bytes

Manual writers report to the ER

Medical researchers know plenty about managing the inputs and outputs of the human body but computers the researchers reminded us recently are different animals entirely.

At a meeting last week held at the National Institutes of Health to discuss new systems for managing research grants electronically some veteran scientists urged NIH officials to remember that technology should not complicate their access to the dollars that are their lifeblood.

"Don't underestimate our ignorance" when it comes to operating software said Gerald McClearn who runs the Center for Development and Health Genetics at the Pennsylvania State University. Instead he said give researchers clear instructions.

We agree that understanding computer user manuals should be easier than breaking the genetic code and we look forward to the day when this particular ailment is eradicated.

More Y2K problems?

At last week's Year 2000 Telecom Forum sponsored by the General Services Administration it fell to outgoing FTS commissioner Bob Woods to introduce Rep. Connie Morella (R-Md.) as a speaker.

After the Republican lawmaker's presentation Woods quipped "I was a little apprehensive that when we asked you to speak on the Year 2000 problem you might think we were asking you to speak about Al Gore."

We suppose when you take the buyout you don't have to worry about being a wise guy at the vice president's expense.

And the good news is...

Speaking at the same conference Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) gave new meaning to the phrase "less is more."

He noted that the District of Columbia's government does not have a Year 2000 problem. That is because it does not have many computers he told attendees.

Alphabet soup

At a congressional hearing last week to discuss the Federal Aviation Administration's troubled satellite-based program called the Wide-Area Augmentation System Jack Ryan vice president of air traffic management at the Air Transport Association warned that the program acronym may take on a new meaning if the program continues to be behind schedule and over-budget.

"We don't want WAAS to stand for `Worse than AAS ' " he said.

AAS which stands for the Advanced Automation System is an FAA program that was canceled because it was years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

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