The Circuit

Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too

With all the angst over missing computer hard drives at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) was quick to point out that his public library is better at keeping track of library books than the government is at keeping track of nuclear secrets.

At a June 13 hearing called by the House Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee to discuss the security breach, Stupak said that in his hometown of Menominee, if you want to check out Winnie the Pooh from the library, you have to have a card, and a record is kept that you removed the book. If you are late in returning it, you get a notice and are charged a late fee.

"While most Americans would find it hard to believe that the Menominee Public Library has a more sophisticated tracking system for Winnie the Pooh than Los Alamos has for highly classified nuclear weapons data," Stupak said, "that is exactly the situation we are faced with."

Moral: We wouldn't want to leave our copy of Winnie the Pooh at Los Alamos either.

Charging a Fee

Before moving to the Defense Department earlier this month, it appears that Deidre Lee, former head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, made sure one of her high-priority projects — the Electronic Posting System — does not fall by the wayside. Lee recently asked the FAR Council to figure out what changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulation are needed to designate EPS as the single online point of entry for government business opportunities.

OFPP wants to have a rule proposed by July 15 and ready for publication in the Federal Register. Still under discussion: whether agencies will be charged a fee to use EPS.

Hacker's Dream

Don't want to be the last to know that your favorite Web site has been hacked? Now you can subscribe to a mailing list that will automatically let you know when a site has been defaced.

The service is offered by Attrition.org, an irreverent, security-oriented Web site that is also a clearinghouse for collecting and disseminating news on hacking and site defacements. The site tracks a wide range of defacements and includes a separate mailing list devoted to dot-gov and dot-mil sites.

A Gentleman's C

Some agencies are more creative than others when it comes to linking performance to results. In NASA's fiscal 1999 performance report, the agency declared that it had met its target in demonstrating the Mars Polar Lander's robotic arm, even though the lander was lost in December and the arm was never deployed. The report has House Science Committee chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) fired up.

"A lot of phrases came to my mind upon hearing that the Mars Polar Lander was lost," he said in a statement. ""Performance target achieved' was certainly not among them. NASA's achievement is like Napoleon declaring victory when his troops were assembled before the battle of Waterloo."

NASA says the only performance target for the Mars Polar Lander was to demonstrate an advanced robotic manipulator that was better than the one used on Viking in 1976. Although the Mars Polar Lander's robotic arm was never deployed in space, NASA viewed it as a success for passing tests on Earth.Have a tip? Send it to circuit@fcw.com.

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