Federal Bytes

RETURN OF THE GDAI. The General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service Network Services Conference '99 in Kansas City, Mo., last week took its cue from the "Star Wars" mania sweeping the country. At the opening session, FTS chief Dennis Fischer donned Luke Skywalker garb and wielded a light saber against a band of henchman working for the evil Lord VUCA (variability, uncertainty, change and ambiguity—a term favored by Fischer to describe conditions that make telecom management difficult). One of the henchmen who fought and was ultimately slain by Fischer looked suspiciously like his deputy, Sandy Bates.

Elsewhere, Becky Nolan of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association hammed it up as Princess AF-Lea, "from the planet AFCEA," and all conference attendees were dubbed GDAI (pronounced "gee-die") knights. It stands for Government Designated Agency Individuals, in case you were wondering.

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LABOR OF LOVE. Also at the FTS conference, representatives from Sprint and MCI were given 90 minutes apiece to describe how their services will help federal agencies achieve their missions. If you can imagine sitting through two 90-minute marketing pitches, you know how exciting this was.

Fortunately, there were moments within each vendor's presentation that stirred some interest.For example, a video made by Sprint featured sales rep Lori DeVenoge, who revealed that the Customs Service paged her for help with a pressing problem—while she was in labor with her second child. DeVenoge actually returned the page and had the problem fixed.

Don't they have "off" buttons on those things?

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CLINTON SLAMMED. Another Sprint sales rep revealed that the Executive Office of the President was, a few months ago, a victim of "slamming," the practice of terminating someone's telecom service and moving the account to a new company without authorization. It seems that an 800 number into the White House was illegally switched and assigned to a private company without the knowledge of anyone in the office or at Sprint.

When White House personnel discovered the problem, they notified the Sprint sales rep, who cleared things up within a matter of hours. We imagine that the perpetrators, who were not identified, had a lot of apologizing to do.

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HEEERE'S TONY! Tony Bardo, director of civilian networks at MCI, livened up his company's presentation with his version of Johnny Carson's Karnak the Magnificent routine. Bardo wore a turban and robe, pressed "hermetically sealed" envelopes to his forehead and predicted the answers to the questions within them.

"An honest lobbyist, Monica Lewinsky and an FTS 2000 sales office," Bardo intoned as he held an envelope to his head. Then, after ripping it open, he read, "Name three things you won't find in Washington anymore."

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WHO CAN YOU TRUST? Army Lt. Col. Hank Waters, the chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency's technical team for the Joint Intelligence Virtual Architecture program, last week gave a detailed rundown on the status of the program to attendees at the Software Technology Conference in Salt Lake City. JIVA is aimed at using IT to revolutionize the way intelligence analysts produce and share top-secret information.

But there seems to be a minor glitch in the code, according to Waters. "One of the problems in the intelligence community is trusted access," Waters told conference attendees. Sounds like it may be time for the CIA to consider more outsourcing contracts.

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