Federal Bytes

NOT TOO INVENTIVE. During the opening debate of the 2000 presidential campaign season, Vice President Al Gore was asked what he thought was the biggest mistake of his political career.

His reply certainly wasn't debatable. "If I was going to pick one right off the bat," Gore replied, "I would say that my biggest mistake was in my choice of words when I claimed to have taken the lead in the Congress in creating the Internet."

The Bytes column has gotten a lot of mileage out of the I-invented-the-Internet comment, and so have many Republicans in Congress. We can only hope that—in the spirit of political fairness—George W. Bush will provide us with another gaffe so rich.

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STATE OF Y2K. State IT officials last week clearly demonstrated that feds could stand to lighten up when it comes to discussing the Year 2000. NASIRE, an association of state CIOs, presented what it termed the Last Y2K Session as part of its 1999 annual conference in Indianapolis. To commemorate this fourth and final annual panel, the moderator handed out T-shirts emblazoned with, "The NASIRE Y2K Farewell Tour: 1996-1900."

Later, one panel member began his presentation by asking everyone in the auditorium who was tired of hearing about the Year 2000 problem to raise both hands, beginning with one side of the room and working toward the other—in mock imitation of the "wave" frequently seen at sporting events.

Another panelist, a state senator from Wisconsin, showed the kind of humility and unforced humor not often seen at federal Year 2000 hearings, noting that "PowerPoint, to me, is pointing a finger at someone else at the table."

The lone federal representative on the panel (we're not naming names) never got into the spirit, keeping her comments dry and to the point.

Maybe some of those feds need to spend a little more time outside Washington.

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A PLACE AT THE TABLE. During an impromptu celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act, Bill Gormley, assistant commissioner of the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Service, presented a token of appreciation on behalf of the government to industry's Larry Allen, executive director of the Coalition for Government Procurement.

Since the five-year anniversary gift is silverware, Gormley presented Allen with what he called the "government's definition of silverware"—a plastic knife and fork wrapped in a red ribbon.

After five years of streamlined procurement—and, consequently, billions of dollars in GSA sales—you would think Gormley at least would have had the utensils monogrammed.

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