Intercepts

* Schmoozing Hamre. According to my E-ring antenna site, Microsoft Corp.'s chief information officer, John Connors, dropped in last week for a high-level sales call on Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre, and topping his list of conversation topics was the Defense Department's Medium Assurance Public Key Infrastructure and the Defense Message System. This follows a visit last month by Netscape Communications Corp. boss Jim Barksdale to talk about his company's approach to PKI, which is a high-level concern for Hamre, who needs software-driven digital signatures to drive the development of projects such as the Defense Travel System and other paperless contracting initiatives. One can only wonder when Bill Gates, Microsoft's ultimate salesman, will make the same trip.

* The Y2K airborne. Bill Curtis, the Pentagon's new Year 2000 czar has already started beefing up his staff, recruiting Katherine Hollis, currently the director of the electronic commerce task force at the Defense Information Systems Agency, as his deputy, along with Tom Weber, another DISA hand. Hollis proudly noted that she is a former Army paratrooper like Curtis, giving her the "hooah'' spirit to tackle a risky mission equivalent to parachuting into Baghdad.

In a related development, the Army will host a Year 2000 conference April 13-15 at the Hyatt Regency, Crystal City, Va. According to Army widget boss Lt. Gen. William Campbell, the conference is of "vital interest to everyone who faces the Y2K problem, especially support contractors.'' I have a feeling we will soon see the emergence of Year 2000 groupies hanging around conferences like this, looking for autographs from aging Cobol programmers.

* DT V for sale? That is the scuttlebutt from the FOSE show last week, where more than one soul speculated Raytheon E-Systems would dearly love to unload the Air Force Desktop V contract that it inherited with its purchase of Hughes Data Systems. Raytheon, which builds high-markup gadgets like Patriot missiles, just does not have any inclination to stay in the tight margin PC business. Raytheon is in negotiations for badly needed new pricing on its DT V vehicle, which has some boxes priced at the $4,000 level. Felice Liston, Micron's federal pooh-bah, said her company has submitted "very competitive'' pricing on DT V for the new contract year.

* DT V delays. Based on a recent visit by the Interceptor to the 401st Expeditionary Air Base Group in beautiful downtown Tuzla, Bosnia, the Hughes/Raytheon DT V contract needs some management attention. Tech Sgt. Jeff Cantreel, who runs the group's local-area network and PC shop in Tuzla, reported that he did not receive delivery of fiscal 1997 year-end (Sept. 30) PCs ordered from DT V until late January. Ken Heitkamp, vice director of the Standard Systems Group, which manages DT V, promised to check this out and ensured faster deliveries to Tuzla in the future.

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