Federal Bytes

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT. The Washington, D.C., area was certainly spared theworst of Hurricane Floyd's devastation, but it wasn't business as usualin the nation's capital. For one thing, most schools were closed, makingit difficult for parents to get to work. Some employers simply closed shop,but federal reseller GTSI had a better idea: The company set up an impromptuday care center at its office in Northern Virginia.

Employees volunteered to spend time at the center, and parents broughttoys, snacks and videotapes of Disney movies for the more than 30 childrenwho spent time at GTSI that day.

GTSI CEO Dendy Young said GTSI employees learned something that parentswho stay at home already know: "We did conclude that it is easier to sellcomputer systems than to run a day care center."

CROCODILE KELLETT. Attendees of the Federal Webmasters Forum meeting lastweek came expecting discussions of servers, architectures, privacy, e-commerceand maybe even a dose of Linux. But the horrors of the Australian outback?At the meeting, forum cofounder Rich Kellett briefly reported on his recentand occasionally terrifying honeymoon in the Land Down Under. As a warningto any adventurers who might want to tour the outback, the General ServicesAdministration's Kellett pointed out that one of Australia's native plantsgives you nasty poison ivy — for as long as two years. And there's no treatment.

Then there's the saltwater crocodiles that lurk "everywhere," Kellettsaid. And watch your step if you walk in the ocean, he warned. In the sealives a rogues gallery of sociopathic creatures that gladly inject unsuspectingtourists with deadly poison. He concluded his brief survey of Australiaby encouraging everybody to visit. "I loved it," he said.

YOU ASKED FOR IT. The Federal Trade Commission has long helped the publicwith complaints about false advertising, Internet scams and other consumerissues. But recently, the agency put in place an e-mail address for anyonewithin the United States who has a complaint about spam — unsolicited commerciale-mail that floods the inboxes of individuals, companies and agencies.

Paul Luehr, assistant director of the division of market practices atthe FTC, encouraged attendees at this month's Defending Cyberspace '99conference to send their spam to uce@ftc.gov. "We're probably the only organizationin the world that welcomes spam," he said.

The FTC had better make sure that its e-mail server can handle a lotof traffic, because an invitation like that is going to get a response.

We've sent a bunch already.

WORSE THAN SNAIL MAIL. Pretty much every federal organization is working with a tight budget, but how many don't have money for mail delivery? The Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office has been using a post office box held by the Pentagon. That no doubt ensures security, but it seriously cuts into the CIAO's response time because the courier service picks up and delivers the mail only once or twice each week.

However, the group does have funding to use Federal Express when it needs to get information out in a timely fashion. But what about the stuff that doesn't need to get there tomorrow? You'd think the 33-cent stamp would be preferable to FedEx's fee. But the CIAO has assured us that the issue will be solved next month. The group's new offices in D.C. have full mail service, both incoming and outgoing.

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