Federal Bytes

BIRTH OF A NATION? Leave it to Rep. Steve Horn (R-Calif.) to inject a little levity into his often very serious hearings.

Horn, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Government Information, Technology and Management, was overseeing a Year 2000 hearing earlier this month when the discussion turned to the impact of the Year 2000 on the nation's power grid.

Noting a pattern in historical power outages, Horn made it painfully obvious that the immediate effects of a power failure from the Year 2000 problem might be just the tip of the iceberg. "If those grids go down, you can just count on an increased population nine months later," Horn quipped.

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A FIGHTER BY TRADE. Emmett Paige, former Defense Department C3I chief and current president and chief operating officer at OAO Corp., has found at least one advantage to his new life in the private sector. During a recent panel discussion on telecom, Paige said he was relieved that the discussion would not degenerate into the traditional "argument" between the General Services Administration and DOD over who should be providing phone service to DOD employees.

Noting that GTE and MCI were involved in legal battles over WorldCom Inc.'s proposed takeover of the latter company, Paige said the discussion more likely would turn into a fight between GTE and MCI. In fact, Paige clearly reveled in his role as instigator between the GTE and MCI panelists.

For his part, Tim Long, the MCI representative, promised "not to throw any chairs," and there were no reported injuries. Better luck next time, General.

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OUT OF ORDER. Talk about micromanaging. One Navy organization last week put out a request for bids on the purchase of a single Intel Corp. Pentium processor-based workstation and storage. Published in the Commerce Business Daily, the request ran just short of 2,000 words, going so far as to specify that the 104-key keyboard should come "with appropriate cable."

Evidently the acquisition reform juggernaut has not yet reached all the nooks and crannies of DOD.

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