Federal Bytes

STARR GAZING: PART I. It seems the president's problems over his relationship with Monica Lewinsky may have more than just congressional Democrats trying to distance themselves from the White House.

At a recent Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association breakfast, a panel moderator mentioned that David McClure, assistant director of information technology policy and issues at the General Accounting Office, was a former presidential intern.

McClure, however, was quick to note when he took the stage that despite being an intern, "I have never been inside the Oval Office."

STARR GAZING: PART II. The folks at THOMAS—- the legislative-information World Wide Web site of the Library of Congress—- know traffic-driving information when they see it.

THOMAS officials gave a link to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's report to Congress top billing over a link to the main THOMAS site, thomas.loc.gov. The first words a visitor reads on the new THOMAS site are "For information on the Independent Counsel's Report, click here." The next line: "If you want to go to THOMAS, click here."

Given the overwhelming interest in Starr's $40 million tale, we're guessing the THOMAS folks made the right choice in giving the report top billing. Smut will always outsell the Congressional Record.

FISH STORY. If you've ever wondered how the Defense Department comes up with its code names for its classified missions and spy planes, don't rack your brains; it's simpler than you may have thought. When asked how the Air Force came up with the name "Speckled Trout" for its sophisticated KC-135 command and control aircraft, a member of the flight crew explained as follows: "Well, the original program manager's last name was Trout. And Ms. Trout had red hair and freckles." Hence the name "Speckled Trout."

After all, Speckled Trout sounds a darn sight better than JC3IAFSJFACC (for the Joint Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence Aircraft for Support of the Joint Forces Air Component Commander).

BIRDS, THE SEQUEL. The Air Force continues to look for high-tech tools to combat a low-tech but serious threat: birds that unknowingly wander into the flight path of aircraft. Last year, as reported in Federal Bytes [FCW, Sept. 9, 1997], the Air Force's Wright Laboratory and the Air Mobility Command undertook an initiative to develop computer-based bird avoidance models that help air crews avoid the dangers posed by birds in flight.

It would appear that initiative bore some fruit. Earlier this month, the 12th Contracting Squadron at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, awarded a $136,520 contract to a vendor for a "non-lethal, radio-controlled, programmable, automated bird-deterrent system."

Evidently Alfred Hitchcock's classic film "The Birds" only told half the horror story.

SOMETHING'S MISSING. John McCain, president of CIO Services at Electronic Data Systems Corp., unveiled the company's new Year 2000 product-compliance database last week in front of John Koskinen, chairman of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion. McCain hailed the system's capability to track more than 129,000 products from 3,000 vendors.

There was just one problem: To his surprise, a skilled Web surfer who dialed into the press briefing noticed that of the 3,000 vendors listed in the database, EDS was not one of them.

Apparently unable to explain his company's absence, McCain thanked the caller for his question and said he would look into the matter.

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