Federal Bytes

Committee chair-men. How engaged is Capitol Hill in the recent round of seat management contracts? Not very, according to former Hill staffer Paul Brubaker, one of the architects of procurement reform legislation. Brubaker now works at Litton/PRC Inc., one of the companies awarded a Seat Management contract by the General Services Administration this month.

Brubaker said Seat Management is a "good contract" that has the potential to revolutionize the way government buys and manages information technology by outsourcing the desktop PC, but the contract has yet to attract congressional interest.

"Ninety-nine percent of the people on the Hill think Seat Management is a contract for chairs," he told FCW last week.

But it was your idea! Charlie Self, GSA's assistant commissioner for IT integration, frequently credits former employee John Ortego for coming up with the Seat Management idea. Now that those contracts have been awarded and Ortego has been running the Agriculture Department's National Finance Center since last year, Self has publicly invited Ortego to be among the first Seat Management customers. Self said last week at a breakfast sponsored by Federal Sources Inc. that he thinks Ortego "owes" it to GSA to become a customer. But he quipped that Ortego "hasn't returned my calls for a couple of weeks."

FCW managed to reach Ortego last week, and he said that he is hoping to meet with GSA personnel for a briefing on the specifics of the contract. Ortego said he is "very much interested" in the contract but would not commit to it until he sees pricing and more details.

This year's motto. Bob Woods, Fed Sources' chief operating officer and Self's former boss, likes Seat Management but notes that the contract needs a zippy motto. He offered a few suggestions: "If you can't manage your seat in the dark with both hands, call us." Or, "We've got the best seat in town."

Woods had other potential catch phrases, but they are unprintable.

Duh lighter side of Y2k. Who says the Year 2000 problem is no laughing matter? Just check out www.duh-2000.com.

The site— produced by an IT consulting firm called The Ken Orr Institute— features curious comments by Year 2000 observers, including former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan; Sally Katzen, former administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs; and federal Year 2000 czar John Koskinen.

For example, the site quotes Vladislav Petrov, spokesman for Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry, as having said the following in a recent Associated Press article: "We don't have any problems yet. We'll deal with the problem in the year 2000."

Each gaffe comes appended with a sassy zinger from the duh-2000 folks. With the Petrov comment, duh-2000 remarks, "This from the people that cheerfully brought you Chernobyl."

Why didn't Reno think of this? The Drexlers, a Boston couple that has been following the antitrust suit against

Microsoft Corp., wrote a letter published July 12 in the Boston Globe wondering whether there is another way for federal officials to, as they put it, "break [Microsoft's] stranglehold on the market."

Instead of the government spending all that time and money in court, the Drexlers proposed: "Couldn't [the government] accomplish that goal just as well if it simply stopped spending taxpayer money on Microsoft products?''

If only they knew how hard it is to tell an agency what it should buy, not to mention what it shouldn't.

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