Intercepts

Montgomery, Ala. - Frye Hanging In. The Interceptor mobile unit spent last week here focused on the Air Force Information Technology Conference (AFITC). It was hosted by the Air Force Standard Systems Group, which is headed by Robert Frye. Frye debunked reports from inside the Beltway (ITB) that he plans on leaving his post as executive director anytime soon. Frye, who has just finished four years at his current post, acknowledged that a move would be logical at this time but said strong personal considerations argues for at least another year in command.

Frye said he loves his job, which he considers "the best SES job in the government" and particularly relishes the chance of working with the enlisted personnel who make up the bulk of the SSG work force, something that does not happen ITB, where rank has such a premium that light colonels supervise the delivery of bottled water to various assistant secretaries on the Pentagon's E-ring.

Frye's son enters Auburn University as a freshman this year, and the SSG executive director said he would like to stay close for at least that first year. This should serve Frye well, because his new boss, Lt. Gen. Leslie Kenne, commander of the Air Force Electronic Systems Center, is a proud Auburn graduate and started her career in Auburn ROTC.

STAR MOLASSES. Sun Microsystems Inc.'s bold acquisition of StarDivison and a plan to offer office productivity software on the World Wide Web - instead of paying Microsoft Corp. $500 and up for shrink-wrapped software - garnered a lot of buzz at the AFITC.

But the Air Force, which has an enterprise software deal with Microsoft, will have a difficult time taking advantage of the deal because of bandwidth limitations inherent to deployed forces, according to Lt. Gen. William Donahue, Air Force computer and communications honcho.

Deployed Air Force units rely heavily on battlefield communications systems that have a throughput of only 512K. Donahue pointed out that such throughput is not enough to support Web-based word processors or spreadsheets as well as carry a normal load of phone and data traffic.

Those systems, called Tri-Tac gear and developed in the 1970s, also have a long future with the expeditionary Air Force, Donahue said, with current plans calling for its use until 2016.

That's a-mor-tization.

Texas E-Mail Madness. No one ever has enough bandwidth, but Donahue told the conference in his keynote speech that personnel throughout the military can conserve it through more intelligent use, including stifling the use of global address lists that seem to include everyone even vaguely in the chain of command.

Donahue would dearly like to see his name and e-mail address removed from the global address lists of seemingly everyone in the Texas Air and Army National Guards who flood him with e-mails about things he already knows, such as the outbreak of the "Melissa" virus earlier this year.

Web Invoices. As the clock ticks down to the Jan. 1 deadline for paperless contracting for all of the Defense Department - as promised by DepSecDef John Hamre - many doubt the realism of the goal. But the Software Factory at SSG has developed a program for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service that will help DOD inch toward the target, according to Capt. Chad Riggelman, project manager for the Web Invoicing System developed for DFAS.

Riggelman said about 8,000 vendors already have signed up to use the Web-invoicing system, which in itself probably has saved thousands of acres of forest.

SPS and St. Francis. The Defense Logistics Agency's Standard Procurement System, developed by American Management Systems Inc., serves as another key piece of the DOD-wide paperless contracting project.

SPS users here at AFITC detailed the catalog of problems with the SPS one encounters in any session on the troubled program outside the Beltway.

But the briefer (who will go unnamed because SPS critics often find themselves quickly slotted for a tour in Iceland) neatly summed up the reality of SPS in the final slide of his presentation, which indicates that St. Francis has become the patron saint of SPS.

The slide read, "Accept what you cannot change."

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