Federal Bytes

The X-mas files

According to the General Services Administration's IT policy World Wide Web page (www.itpolicy.gsa.gov/mkm/topbuzz.htm), federal authorities last month were investigating Santa Claus, identified as the CEO of North Pole Enterprises, "for multiple violations of citizens' privacy." According to GSA, Claus "is suspected of maintaining extensive computerized files on the habits of nearly 400 million persons throughout the world, most of them children.

"Although no information has come to light that any of this information has been used for anything but good purposes, chief investigator Frank McGrinch stated that, 'We're naturally suspicious of any person or organization that seems to be doing good for nothing,' " GSA's Web page said.

Santa, Part II

In other Santa-related news, Postmaster General Marvin Runyon last month appointed actress Maureen O'Hara as the first chairwoman of the agency's Letter To Santa program. It seems Runyon is concerned that kids today are not writing (and putting postage stamps on) enough letters to The Bearded One.

Nobody asked us, but we think Runyon would be smarter to establish an official Santa e-mail address. We think his heart would be warmed by the number of letters to Santa that would come in electronically. Of course, it might be difficult to collect 32 cents for each e-mail USPS receives.

NASA goes Hollywood?

NASA's Ames Research Center is the latest victim in a series of hacker attacks that resulted in World Wide Web pages being replaced by the image of actress Claire Danes, who recently appeared in the film "The Rainmaker." While NASA is well-known for producing stunning pictures and images of a wide variety of breathtaking space phenomenon, we don't think this image quite fits with the agency's mission. The doctored Web page shows a picture of Danes with a security notice stating, "You are so beautiful, it hurts to look at you."

''Star Wars'' revisited

Speaking of Hollywood, some industry acquisitions in the federal IT market have all the drama of a cinematic blockbuster. For example, BTG Inc. last month sold its product reseller business to Government Technology Services Inc., the leading reseller in General Services Administration schedule business. BTG wanted a company that, supported by BTG services, would be a formidable competitor in the federal market, said Edward H. Bersoff, BTG president and chief executive officer. "If there is anyone we consider Darth Vader in this business, it is GTSI," Bersoff said.

While the comparison effectively highlights the competitive nature of the federal reseller market, it also puts BTG in a less than flattering light. How popular would the ''Star Wars'' movies be if Luke Skywalker had sold off R2D2 and C3PO to the Empire in order to streamline the resistance?

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