Intercepts

- Reform thyself. That's the advice Rep. Floyd Spence (R-S.C.) and his buddies on the House Committee on National Security delivered to Secretary of Defense William Cohen in the House version of the 1999 Defense authorization bill. Taking a look at one of Cohen's pet projects, the Defense Reform Initiative, the committee discovered that the Office of the Secretary of Defense has yet to stand up to promises to reduce its staff by one-third by the end of this year, as outlined in the DRI plan.

To focus thinking on this issue, the committee slashed 1999 OSD funding by $15.9 million to "bring the budget in line with the DRI." This sounds like a priority task for newly appointed DRI director Bill Houley. Houley, Intercept fans remember, lucked into the job by reading, then quickly responding to, the ad the Pentagon placed in the Wall Street Journal one day before the cut-off date for applications.

- Whine alert. Ann Miller, the Navy chief information officer, plans to release the public version of the service's Information Technology Standards Guideline document on its World

Wide Web site (www.doncio.navy.mil) on May 20, and I'm told the 300-page-plus IT cookbook has product-specific "buy" and "don't buy" recommendations. This, in turn, will lead to a long line of vendor supplicants making its way to Miller's digs in Crystal City, Va.— where I'm told the staff has stocked up on tissues and has a team of counselors standing by. Luckily, for the truly disgruntled, it's easy to jump on the Metro and zip over to the Hill for congressional whines.

- Doing the ATM at DISA again. After a Sprint protest blocked a maneuver to add ATM circuits to MCI's DISN bandwidth manager contract, Defense Information Systems Agency DISN contract manager Pete Smingler decided to take the requirement to the street last month with a CBD notice for a mess of wideband ATM circuits all around the country. One cynic said Sprint quickly will discover that its protest will succeed only in transferring the business from MCI to Qwest, the feisty new competitor in the federal long-haul market.

- Sun Ra could do the song. The Senate Armed Services Committee, in its version of the DOD authorization bill, wants the ASD/C3I office to be renamed Assistant Secretary of Defense, Space and Information Superiority to better describe "the full range of responsibilities" of the new organization. I bet Art Money and the rest of the gang over at ASD/C3I would agree with the late Sun Ra— a jazz artist who claimed Saturn as his home— that "Space is the Place."

- Brand X confusion. The Interceptor thought everyone knew what the phrase Brand X meant: an anonymous reference to an inferior product. But not the Navy and the sellers of BICC Brand-Rex cable, who besieged our base units last week with calls saying our reference to bad Brand X cable stained the escutcheon of Brand-Rex cable. Not so. Brand-Rex is of such high quality I use it at home for almost everything— including using leftover bits of cable as a collar for my cat, Sarge Brewin.

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