Federal Bytes

I'll do the talking. If being president means you have to endure a constant barrage of partisan criticism (as well as questions about your sex life), it also apparently includes moments to savor. One of those occurred this month when President Clinton finally made his first speech on the Year 2000 problem. Vice President Gore, who is known for his technology smarts, was also on hand but sat silently by during the speech.Gore didn't seem bothered by the scenario. But Clinton was a bit surprised that he was the top speaker on an issue that clearly interested his right-hand man.

"This is one of those days that I never thought would ever arrive, where Al Gore has to listen to me give a speech about computers,'' Clinton said gleefully. "Being president has its moments.''

Clinton also took a moment to acknowledge the federal Year 2000 czar. "Before I became president, John Koskinen was a personal friend of mine—I doubt if he still is now that I got him to do this,'' he said.

Y2K Solved! Marine Corps Year 2000 managers last week met in Quantico, Va., to discuss the current status of the Corps' Year 2000 efforts and various contingency plans the Corps has put into motion. To the surprise of some in the audience, the Corps' Electronic and Security Systems program office briefing included a glimpse at what may be the Corps' overarching contingency plan for Year 2000: "Be prepared to post armed sentries at critical facilities aboard installations."

We expected nothing less from an institution famous for quotes such as "Retreat, hell! We're just attacking in another direction."

Armageddon outta here. Of all the places one might think to look for a commentary on federal procurement, the last place would be the recent special-effects blockbuster "Armageddon."

But the film does offer some offhand insight into NASA contracting.

As an unlikely group of deep-core-drillers-turned-astronauts are about to take off in the space shuttle to blow up an asteroid the size of Texas, Rockhound, played by Steve Buscemi, offers this comment: "Hey Harry, do you realize we are sitting on top of 4 million pounds of fuel, one nuclear weapon and 200,000 moving parts, all built by the lowest bidder? Kinda makes you feel good, doesn't it?"

Perhaps Rockhound would feel less nervous if the shuttle had been purchased through the GSA schedule.


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