The circuit

If You Say it Often Enough

Even though they are not slated to receive new money for information security until fiscal 2001, chief information officers in the federal government seem to be taking the approach that if they utter the phrase "emergency supplemental" often enough, maybe some money will drift their way from Congress. State Department CIO Fernando Burbano has been pushing the idea every chance he gets. Now, Agriculture Department CIO Joseph Leo is taking up the cause. After numerous agencies were hit by the recent "love bug" attack, Leo suggested there may be an emergency supplemental fund for cybersecurity this year. The one time the concept was suggested this year in public to the lead budget gatekeeper, the Office of Management and Budget, OMB said it didn't want to get involved.

Maybe Transportation Department CIO George Molaski had the right idea when he suggested that the first time the World Wide Web site of a member of Congress who is running for re-election gets hit, the money will pour in.

Missing Messages?

Last month, Sens. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) called on agencies to talk about their progress in implementing the Clinger-Cohen Act four years after its passage, and many wondered why no one had asked before. But apparently someone had — the Office of Management and Budget. According to one federal official, OMB asked agencies to give it an update on Clinger-Cohen in the fall of 1997. Letters were sent out and responses received. But nothing was ever done, and any trace of those responses has long since disappeared. It makes you wonder if the agency responses were bad enough that OMB didn't want to take the time to fix the problems or good enough that OMB decided to leave well enough alone.

Glowing in the Dark

At the National Archives and Records Administration, where they usually worry about preserving electronic documents for a few decades or paper documents for a century or two, researchers discovered some really long-lasting stuff in their files — uranium samples with a half-life of 4.5 billion years. The samples were found in envelopes tucked in with 50-year-old Army documents that had been sent to NARA in January for declassification. Officials said a small amount of radiation was detected on four envelopes containing the uranium, but none was found in the records processing area or on NARA employees who handled the records. Try electronic filing next time.

Don't Add it to the Map Room

White House information managers doubtless earned a "D" in geography recently after posting a map of the United States on the official White House Web site that mixed up Kentucky and Tennessee. The map was picked up by "journalist" Matt Drudge, who brought it to public attention on his Web site, The Drudge Report. The map was posted in connection with the president's school reform tour and located Owensboro, Ky., in western Tennessee. The mistake was swiftly corrected, but not before Drudge had splashed it online. To help prevent this from happening again, we note that there are several excellent software packages that include maps, and there are even free maps available on the Net.

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