The Circuit

Who's That in My Parking Space?

The National Institutes of Health is taking e-government to heart. It announced plans to establish a new system of recording information about every person who works for NIH. The one-stop information shop is expected to be operational beginning May 24. It will include data such as registered users of NIH computers, home fax numbers and cell phone numbers. It will also include individuals' parking space numbers. So beware if you slip your silver Jaguar into a spot that isn't your own at the sprawling Bethesda, Md., facility.

CIOs on Stage

Never let it be said that chief information officers can't give a good presentation. At last month's Information Processing Interagency Conference in Orlando, Fla., Treasury Department CIO Jim Flyzik's presentation kept audience members entertained with wry commentary, special effects and video. Flyzik included a clip with Federal Public Key Infrastructure Steering Committee chairman Rich Guida, who declared that there will be a paperless federal government only when someone invents a paperless bathroom.

The biggest hit of Flyzik's presentation came thanks to his assistants. They figured out how to morph headshots of council members onto pictures of TV stars. Energy CIO John Gilligan became Jean-Luc Picard of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," replacing Patrick Stewart as captain of the starship USS Enterprise. Department of Housing and Urban Development CIO Gloria Parker became Tess from "Touched By An Angel" (Della Reese).

This Ol' Census

Those of you who are tired of this year's census stories, be forewarned — there's more coming in 2002. Statistical abstracts of census data become available as soon as the numbers are crunched. But by law, there is a 72-year embargo on the release of personal data captured by the federal census.

So, while you can find out the average number of TV sets in a given census tract for the 1990 census right now, the names of the people living in U.S. households in 1930 won't be available until 2002. And then, you'll find a few questions that are no longer asked, including whether the household has a "radio set" and whether a person being counted could read or write. The data is in the hands of the National Archives, but it will be available only on microfilm because it is too expensive to put it online. So much for the Information Age.

Computer Glitch

It couldn't have been an encouraging sign for hundreds of business operators invited to Washington, D.C., on April 27 to discuss how government might become less burdensome. The group converged on the lobby of the new Executive Office Building for sessions on "Collecting Information in the Information Age." But a half-dozen security guards couldn't get their computer terminals to cough up the names of those approved for admission to the building. After several attempts and phone calls, the guards were handed a long, faintly printed list of names, which they proceeded to search by hand. The snag made most attendees at least 40 minutes late for their sessions.

Ma Who?

As federal agencies try to transition to new telecommunication vendors under the FTS 2001 and Metropolitan Area Acquisition contracts, they are being caught in a tug of war over who owns what equipment. Former contract holders claim that telephone lines and other equipment installed at area agencies in the past 10 years belong to them, and no one else may use them without paying a price. Agencies believe the equipment is theirs, and a new vendor should have the right to use it.

The arguments, according to sources, have gotten petty, with both parties arguing over who bought the wires. Because records have been kept on everything from scrap paper to McDonald's wrappers, it's difficult to determine exactly who owns the equipment. Until a decision is made, new vendors have the option of installing new equipment or standing by as the government and former contract holders decide who owns what.

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