Federal Bytes

DESEVE HAS TO GO. At a House hearing last week before the Government Management, Information and Technology Subcommittee, subcommittee chairman Rep. Steve Horn (R-Calif.) wanted to know whether Ed DeSeve—soon-to-be former deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget—was going to poke his head back into government every now and then after his departure for a job with the private sector.

Horn asked whether DeSeve might serve as an in-house consultant for the administration at some point. Without missing a beat, DeSeve said to Horn, "I've been in-house and out-house for many years."

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THE SKED GRIND. You know you've got problems when the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Service approves contracts and modifications to contracts for about 1,500 companies. It is not easy for a limited number of people to handle that much work, and vendors have long complained about the time and effort that it takes.

In fact, one vendor representative recently confided that applying for and being awarded a GSA schedule contract for his company "was the most painful acquisition of my life."

That's bad enough, but it's worth noting that this representative, who declined to be named, is a former Defense Department official who worked on several of the government's largest and most complex acquisitions of desktop systems.

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MAN OF THE WORLD. When John Koskinen accepted his position last year as chairman of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion to coordinate the federal government's efforts to fix its computer problems, he didn't know that another major responsibility would come with the job a year later.Koskinen recently called a meeting with world leaders at the United Nations to discuss global Year 2000 computer problems, only to find out that very few leaders were aware of the issue.

"I didn't know that I would have to organize the world, but someone had to do it,'' Koskinen said.

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IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM, JOIN 'EM. At last week's Information Processing Interagency Conference (IPIC) in Denver, conference organizers were challenged by more than the usual number of scheduling conflicts—spring break, religious holidays and such—but it was the final game of the NCAA men's basketball tournament that threatened to clear the opening reception early.

To keep people at the party, the conference committee set up a large screen and piped in the game with picture but no sound. The scheduled music, a chamber music group with two harps, played as conference attendees ate shrimp the size of small trout, talked IT and cheered for their favorite teams on the silent screen. No one left early.

It wasn't the usual beer and pretzels, but wine and harps worked very nicely.

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AN OLD JOKE. Also at IPIC, Government Information Technology Executive Council president Sarah Jane League looked out across the graying audience of what used to be called federal data center directors and commiserated with them.

"The aging process could be slowed down," she assured them, "if only it had to work its way through Congress."

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