- By Bob Brewin
- Jun 28, 1998
The Interceptor has folded his antennas for the next month to take some much-needed R&R overseas. In the interim, the FCW staff has erected new dishes to intercept the latest talk on the street at the Defense Department and civilian agencies.
Y2K TAR BABY. If you haven't heard all the Republican jaw-jacking over techie Veep Al Gore's apparent lack of leadership on the Year 2000 problem, you're probably living in a hole. But don't think the Republicans didn't try to do something about it.
Word on the Hill is that some folks on the Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology were eyeing bill language several months ago that would have made Gore the administration's head Y2K czar, a tar baby that Republicans would love to stick on the Democrats' front-running presidential candidate. That, of course, was before President Clinton tapped John Koskinen— the guy formerly responsible for the "M" in OMB— to tackle the problem.
So why did Hill leaders stop short of putting Al in the Y2K cockpit? The answer may lie in remarks made by subcommittee chairman Rep. Steve Horn
(R-Calif.) earlier this month, when he released a "report card" giving the federal government an F for the Year 2000. Horn, a stickler for details, said the Constitution assigns one duty and one duty only to the vice president: presiding over the Senate.
DANCING AS FAST AS THEY CAN. That's what agencies seem to be doing on the Year 2000. One way an agency can show progress in making its mission-critical systems Y2K-compliant is to reduce the number of systems classified as mission-
critical, therefore reducing the number of systems that need to be reprogrammed or replaced. That may explain why the number of systems that agencies report as mission-critical keeps decreasing.
In the quarter that ended May 15, agencies identified 7,336 mission-critical systems, down from 7,692 in the quarter that ended Feb. 15, according to the Office of Management and Budget's Y2K reports. Some on the Hill view the decrease as a deliberate fudging by agencies so that they can make their Y2K progress look better.
But Rona Stillman, the chief scientist for computers at GAO, said agencies aren't playing a shell game. She said some agencies are having trouble determining what is a mission-critical system and what is not. "If priorities are not clearly set, the government may well waste time and resources in fixing systems that have little bearing on its most vital government operations," Stillman said. Now that wouldn't be a first, would it?
COLONELS DON'T MAKE THE CUT. The Marine Corps is putting a general officer in the driver's seat at the Warfighting Lab at Quantico, Va., in an effort to provide the project with a little more horsepower. From now on, the directorship— which historically has been a colonel position— will now be a brigadier-
general slot. This new policy shows just how serious the Marines, which have few generals to spare compared with the other services, are about IT.
SEEING DOUBLE. The Army is creating a Leader Development Laboratory at Fort Leavenworth to study technologies for the "Command Post of the Future," which will transform the posts where the services' commanders make battlefield decisions, co-ordinate maneuvers and issue orders to troops into high-tech, mobile posts. But the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is spending millions of dollars on a similar project.
Word on the street is that the two agencies are coordinating to make sure the programs are not duplicating efforts because that would raise a funding red flag in Congress. We'll keep you posted. (Pun intended.)