Intercepts

Lotus Snub

My Treasury Department snoops report that the department is preparing to deny a protest from a Lotus Development Corp. reseller who claims that his company has not been given a fair shake in supplying an alternative to Microsoft Corp. products.

Treasury officials apparently have contacted IBM Corp. and Lotus about the not-so-subtle tactics of the reseller: Annandale, Va.-based Sales Resource Consultants Inc. delivered 535 three-inch binders to Congress full of what it considered to be a mountain of evidence that the government is biased in favor of Microsoft ["Microsoft, Lotus battle hits Marines," FCW, Dec. 6, 1999].

The tactics got SRC its day on the Hill, but the move also seems to have solidified the opposition. Sources say Treasury's rebuttal will include legal documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission that are likely to present roadblocks to more federal business for the company.

However, documents that "showed up" on the Interceptor's desk last week indicate that SRC has started a legal fund, has retained counsel and is in launching a campaign to alert other Lotus resellers of the government's "stone-walling" tactics.

Does Somebody Need a Hug?

My mobile listening posts have picked up strong signals that some in the military are downright flabbergasted at the notion of giving every fed a PC to take home ["Government issue," FCW, April 10]. One Navy source said he knows exactly what will happen if sailors are given laptops: "They will go straight out the gate, sell it, [and] get drunk ."

A graduate of the Army's Logistics Management College said the solution to better government is not smarter employees and a PC on every desk. "What I have learned is that government is more about power and control than information systems and computer science," said the disgruntled Army source. "Let me tell you, the government has smart employees, and I'm one of them," he added. "Problems are the No. 1 one reason why missions are not achieved."

Whew! Glad we cleared that up.

Cloaks, Daggers & Maps

The CIA's decision last week to fire one of the officers involved in the deadly targeting error that led to the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, last year has sparked conspiracy theories among academics and government "insiders."

Although the CIA officially blamed a "severely flawed" target identification process made worse by the use of outdated maps and databases full of bad information, the party line doesn't sit well with some who think it's possible somebody allowed the error to go unnoticed.

My e-mail queue has been flooded with theories that appear to be the work of avid Tom Clancy fans. The most intriguing theory is that the embassy was acting as a clandestine electronic eavesdropping post for the Serbs. But conspiracies require secrecy among scores of people.

According to one industry official, the information revolution has made it "virtually impossible to keep a secret within the U.S. government."

Unfriendly Skies

The General Accounting Office told Congress this month that because 36 foreign nationals had access to source code in the air traffic control system last year to conduct Year 2000 fixes, the system may be more susceptible to intrusion.

But there's another problem on the rise: "air rage." Hostile and criminal acts aboard aircraft are on the rise, according to GAO.

Intercept something interesting? E-mail the Interceptor at antenna@fcw.com.

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