Intercepts

Although nobody has heard a word from the Interceptor since he set out last week on vacation in his canoe, I'm optimistic that the avid Global Positioning System user took a lesson from one of our joint story endeavors here at Federal Computer Week and affixed a handheld GPS system to the inside of the canoe with Velcro. We expect to see him again next week, when the Infiltrator can begin planning his own getaway.

For now, here's a rundown of the week's Intercepts:

ANOTHER MAALOX MOMENT. It seems that my allusion last week to a Chinese proverb had Lotus Development Corp. resellers within 25 miles of the Beltway wondering if they needed to start looking for a headstone. But based on information I've received via my well-camouflaged Tysons Corner receivers, it is the Defense Department's enterprise software initiative that's digging its own grave.

According to sources, DOD's decision to turn its back on Lotus SmartSuite in favor of Microsoft Corp.'s Office could cost the department $500 million per year in license upgrades and maintenance costs.

In fact, a recent letter sent by one of the above-mentioned Lotus resellers to Floyd Groce in the office of the Navy's chief information officer spelled out the need for "an alternative" to the "Gentle Giant" throughout DOD. The letter focused heavily on the cost savings the department could realize through a Lotus deal.

According to the reseller, an offer has been made to DOD to acquire an enterprise license for 50,000 Lotus SmartSuite users at the cost of $15 per desktop - a $184 per desktop savings over Office.

"While we realize there would be some fear in replacing Microsoft as your desktop solution, the department must surely recognize the tremendous need for an alternative to Microsoft," the letter said. Although I have no way of independently verifying those numbers, this interesting turn of events reminds me of yet another Chinese proverb: "You must have crossed the river before you may tell the crocodile he has bad breath."

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ARMY A-76ING ITS FUTURE? Intelligence reports indicate that the Army, still trying to define its role and its relevance in the "911 Force" world of rapid deployments and information dominance, is toying with the idea of replacing its cadre of noncommissioned and staff noncommissioned recruiting officers with civilian contractors. Those contractors and civilian marketing pros who happen to have past experience in the Army also will be allowed to wear Army uniforms.

Believe it or not, somebody in the Army thinks that outsourcing recruiting programs across the country will help solve the critical recruiting and retention problems brought on by a robust economy and the largest shortage of IT workers since Bill Gates began peddling the first copy of Basic. This is sure to spark a debate on how the Army decides what functions are "inherently governmental."

HI-TECH PERSONNEL SHORTAGE? My inbox has been flooded with e-mail messages from highly trained reservists and former reservists for information on how they can become members of the Joint Reserve Component Information Operations unit recommended by a recent internal DOD study [FCW, July 26].

Some former and retired reservists, touting the much- sought-after laundry list of Microsoft certifications, have even offered to come out of retirement to get involved in this effort, which, at the moment, remains vaporware.

Maybe DOD's problems retaining its cadre of high-tech personnel are not really a problem at all.

In fact, there might be a very simple answer to the mystery: DOD isn't losing its high-tech talent - it's in the Reserves!

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