Federal Bytes

Short cuts

Scores of well-wishers and a long lineup of 22 speakers representing government and industry gathered last week to bid farewell to Bob Woods retiring commissioner of the Federal Technology Service. Much of the evening consisted of jokes at the expense of Woods' height - or lack thereof (Treasury Department chief information officer Jim Flyzik: "Bob used to be a bouncer. It was at a salad bar.") - and Woods' less-than-stellar golf game (Flyzik: "When Bob steps up to the tee the geese and ducks in the pond near the first hole all fly away and the fish start jumping in the water and they're wearing crash helmets.").

But all the speakers expressed genuine gratitude and respect for Woods' accomplishments as a federal information technology leader. Greg Woods of the National Performance Review presented the retiring commissioner with one of Vice President Al Gore's Hammer Awards the first ever presented to an individual federal employee.

And Bruce McConnell of the Office of Management and Budget read a citation to Woods from President Clinton. X-traordinary hackers A recent episode of the TV series "X-Files" featured a Federal Communications Commission public affairs officer hacking into the Defense Department's Arpanet from his booth at a computer trade show in Baltimore.

Within a minute he managed to access and download an encrypted file. He later decrypted the file which uncovered (surprise!) some government conspiracy with the help of a couple of expert hackers who claim that "government hack is a snap." (Later they hack into the FBI mainframe but that's a subplot). Granted the episode was set in 1989 when hacking might have been easier.

But what we were wondering is this: If those hackers are so smart why didn't they fix the Year 2000 problem while they were at it? Small POCS Bob Woods briefed federal employees throughout the country last month on the General Services Administration's Seat Management program.

Woods said he chided his staff about the Seat Management program name correctly noting that it requires some explanation. Woods said he considered the outsourcing program to be the IT equivalent of GSA's Plain Old Telephone Service contracts better known as POTS. He said a better name for Seat Management might have been Plain Old Computing Service. Then he changed his mind noting that "POCS isn't my idea of a good acronym."

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