Federal Bytes

CATCHING THE Y2K CONSPIRACY BUG. Just when it seemed like the fears of the Year 2000 doomsayers and conspiracy theorists would prove to be overblown, Wired magazine reported last week that some members of Congress are publicly discussing the possibility that President Clinton will use potential computer failures as a cover to declare martial law.

In the online article "Y2K Conspiracy Goes Mainstream," posted last week, Wired reported that at a U.S. Reserve Officers Association conference held last week, Rep. Jack Metcalf (R-Wash.) left open the possibility that Clinton, whom he described as "a power-hungry president," could declare martial law come Jan. 1.

Some may argue that Wired has yet to prove its point that the Year 2000 conspiracy theory has gone mainstream. After all, how many people would consider members of Congress and lawyers mainstream?

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USPS PEDDLES OR PEDALS ITS NAME. What happens when government agencies are allowed to act more like private-sector organizations? For one thing, they set up Web sites like the one the U.S. Postal Service did to hype the Pro Cycling Team it is sponsoring at the Tour de France this year.

The site includes daily reporting on the team's progress from a Postal Service spokeswoman "as she treks through the mountains and valleys of France," according to a USPS press release. You also can find photographs and other interesting morsels such as a press conference transcript of the team's star cyclist, Lance Armstrong.

You can find these goodies and more at www.uspsprocycling.com.

If this sponsorship trend continues, we might soon see NASCAR entrants with the Federal Highway Administration emblem embossed on their vehicles.

Or marathon runners wearing jerseys emblazoned with "Department of Energy."

Or perhaps the U.S. Geological Survey will sponsor the next Rolling Stones tour.

You heard it here first.

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SALARY, BENEFITS AND ALL THAT JAZZ. It would appear that the gimmicks used by IT companies to attract scarce technical talent are limited only by the imaginations of human resources shops. Scientific and Engineering Solutions, a consulting company based in Annapolis Junction, Md., has taken an innovative approach to recruiting. It offered prospective employees free admission to a concert last week by jazz artist Marcus Johnson in Washington, D.C.

The company is sponsoring a series of Johnson's concerts and has obtained permission to set up a booth at his shows to recruit IT professionals.

"A sizable segment of high-wage-earning professionals tend to be from the information technology career field, and many of them enjoy fine jazz," said Reginald Daniel, the company's CEO. "Why not explore that market and make a pitch for the higher-paying segment of research and engineering?"

Daniel's point is well taken. But judging from some of the hacked Web sites we've seen lately, the real IT talent might be more interested in death metal or gangster rap. Of course, that doesn't look as nice on a press release.

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