Federal Bytes

BIG SHOT AT DOJ. You shouldn't tangle with her in court, and it's probably not wise to tangle with her on the court either. We're talking about Janet Reno, of course.

Word on the street is that the attorney general plays a mean game of hoops. Actually, the word came not from the street but at a federal telecommunications conference last month. Robert Bratt, director of the Wireless Management Office at the Justice Department, recounted a tale in which Reno recently decided to take DOJ staffers up on an invitation to play in one of their regular basketball games involving Criminal Division staff and organized-crime prosecutors.

Early in the game, Reno got the ball, and two defenders quickly threw their arms up to prevent a shot, according to Bratt.

But when it dawned on the defenders that it was the attorney general of the United States who was about to shoot, their arms slowly came down, he said.

Then a light bulb went on. "We figured that the way to win was to feed the attorney general the ball," Bratt said. As we know, Reno has never hesitated to take an open shot.

* * *

SUING HIMSELF. Assistant Interior Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Gover finds himself in quite an interesting situation. As the top official at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Gover, an American Indian, represents the government, which other American Indians are suing over mismanagement of Indian trust funds.

A judge recently held Gover, as well as Interior Department Secretary Bruce Babbitt and Treasury Department Secretary Robert Rubin, in contempt for failing to produce documents for the case. But last week, at a Senate hearing on Indian trust accounts, Babbitt revealed that Gover also is considered a plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit because he receives trust money. It's not much, though: Gover's trust account - whether accurate or not - generates about 7 cents a year. If money has anything to do with it, Gover's decision on whom to support in this case will be an easy one.

* * *

GLAMOROUS GEEKS. Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, has an idea that he says may help alleviate the government's IT worker shortage.

Miller said the government should sponsor a new TV drama called "L.A. Engineering," modeled after the old "L.A. Law" series.

During a conference panel on IT work-force challenges at a recent conference, Miller said applications to law schools increased substantially as "L.A. Law" gained popularity.

"Why not? All you saw were great-looking guys and great-looking girls driving fancy cars and getting lots of sex because of what their jobs were," Miller said.

Although it's a bit of a stretch, Miller thinks a similar show based on the frolics of IT personnel could lead to an explosion in the number of applications to computer science and engineering schools.

So far, the government has not taken the bait.

"I haven't been able to get the Commerce Department to fund that project," Miller admitted.


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