Federal Bytes

AND NOW A WORD FROM THE IRS. The first signs of the kinder, gentler Internal Revenue Service are beginning to show. At the CIO Council's Interagency Resources Management Conference last week in Virginia Beach, Va., IRS officials were on the stump, showing off the new look. The IRS' E-File program has a logo designed by a New York City advertising firm, and Congress has approved spending big bucks for marketing IRS programs to the citizens.

A polished and glitzy commercial featuring astronauts filing taxes from the moon showed a side of the IRS few have seen— the humorous side.

After the new TV commercial was shown to attendees, a round of applause broke out. An IRS official stopped in his tracks and said, "You have no idea how great that feels." Then he handed out trinkets with E-file logos like the best of the commercial world. Can it be long before we see IRS blimps or IRS-sponsored bowl games?

***

FLEET-ING TASK ORDERS. The Navy's Fleet Industrial Supply Center had some trouble making up its mind last month. On Aug. 13, FISC issued an order in the Commerce Business Daily for 44 330 MHz Pentium II systems. There was only one problem: There is no such thing as a

330 MHz processor. Fortunately, someone must have pointed this out because FISC issued a modification five days later, changing the order to 300 MHz Pentium II machines. And folks, these machines actually exist. Unfortunately, that change was obviously not satisfactory. On Aug. 20, FISC canceled the entire order. The center issued a whole new order the next day, almost exactly the same as the order it had just cancelled. Well, not exactly the same; the order now calls for the CPUs to be in a minitower case instead of a desktop chassis.

As far as we know, the requirement has not changed in the past two weeks.

***

THE Y2K AFFAIR. It had to happen. Someone has linked President Clinton's dalliance with Monica Lewinsky to the Year 2000 problem. Virtual Dynamics Corp.'s "Y2K awareness, preparation and survival site" (www.Y2Ktool.com) recently ran an open letter to Clinton, blaming him for the media's failure to adequately cover the Year 2000 issue.

The letter to Clinton said last month's Y2K Global Action Day got no press "because our myopic media was too busy covering and critiquing the latest performances in the three-ring circus you've orchestrated with your gal-pal Monica Lewinsky and attorney Kenneth Starr.

"We are trying to save the planet, Sir, and your affairs are in the way," the letter said.

***

POINT, CLICK AND WHACK. A free computer game that focuses on President Clinton's Lewinsky problem has been circulating throughout the country. The game, from Nvision Design Inc., puts the user in the shoes of a mallet-wielding Bill Clinton, who must "whack" the heads of the people who have been making his life miserable lately as they quickly pop out of holes like gophers on the White House lawn. Targets include Kenneth Starr, Linda Tripp, Newt Gingrich, Paula Jones and Sam Donaldson. But don't whack Socks the Cat or you will lose points. Click on buckets of fried chicken to energize Clinton. Or maybe you should just focus your attention on your work instead.

***

HEY, CATCHY NAME. Honeywell Technology Center late last month won a $10 million Air Force contract for research, data and hardware for the Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser-Based Interconnects in Very Large Scale Integration Photonics Architectures for Computational Enhancement Program.

Wonder how much of that $10 million will go into printing business cards large enough to handle new job titles for everyone working on the program.

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