Letters to the Editor
I'm a regular reader of Federal Computer Week and find its coverage of government
and technology above other similar publications.
There is one point that I would like to make regarding FCW's content. Although
you do on occasion report on products and technologies from Apple Computer
Inc., I find it rare and far under-represented.
Apple's upcoming Mac OS X will bring a new era for Apple. Mac OS X will
bring the platform to levels unseen in a desktop system and will allow it
to take its place next to heavyweights such as Solaris, Linux, AIX and Irix.
Furthermore, its FireWire and QuickTime technologies are industry standards
but few know they were innovated by Apple.
On a slightly different note, I read your article "iPaq a solid, easy-to-use
tool" [FCW.com, July 26, 2000]. I agree with the author's point that the
iPaq probably satisfies the needs of most PC-based users who need a simple
workstation with a network connection. And I agree with her analogy when
she says, "Why buy an ocean liner if all you need is a rowboat?"
However, I'd like to add the analogy, "Why buy a Yugo when you could have
a BMW?" (The Yugo being the iPaq and the BMW being an iMac.) The iMac's
elegant hardware and OS integration makes for an extremely simple and powerful
system to use and support and it'll be able to run Mac OS X when it's
released early next year.
My point here is FCW needs some Macintosh proficiency on its editorial staff
to give readers a truly balanced picture of information technology. The
only reason the industry is one sided is because the media has made it so to the disservice of the general public.
U.S. Postal Service
Your article ["Lack of embassy e-mail 'laughable,'" FCW.com, July 20, 2000]
paints an unnecessarily grim picture of the state of information technology
at our diplomatic missions overseas. The picture is not perfect, but not
nearly as dire as the article would have readers believe, and efforts are
under way to improve interagency collaboration and communication.
The State Department recently completed an aggressive modernization effort
to upgrade the unclassified IT infrastructure at all of our diplomatic missions
overseas. In 1997, State's IT infrastructure included about 250 obsolete
minicomputers, which suffered frequent breakdowns, were expensive to maintain
and did not provide employee access to the Internet, robust e-mail or other
powerful, Information Age IT services.
During the past three years, State has transitioned to a state-of-the-art
PC-based infrastructure that provides a full range of reliable and modern
IT capabilities. This new system A Logical Modernization Approach (ALMA) is an unclassified intranet that allows Internet e-mail capability. Today,
every State employee has access to a PC with Internet e-mail capability,
and every embassy has Internet e-mail capability. But this is only the first
step in improving our IT capability.
Today, the nearly 40 U.S. government agencies resident in our diplomatic
missions overseas operate discrete IT systems designed to communicate with
their headquarters. Many of these systems have an Internet e-mail capability
through which they can communicate with other agencies. While these systems
provide functionality in meeting the goals of the individual agencies, their
independence often makes communications and the sharing of information between
agencies difficult and complex. It should also be noted that all these overseas
agencies were offered connections to the new State ALMA intranet system
In its report, "America's Overseas Presence in the 21st Century," the Overseas
Presence Advisory Board (OPAP) cited issues that must be addressed if we
are to achieve the strategic goals of our foreign policy in the 21st century.
OPAP cited a need to improve IT to support the flow of information among
the foreign affairs community.
State is leading the interagency effort to develop and implement an interoperable
IT infrastructure and a knowledge management system to enable all agencies
to share data, provide rapid, secure e-mail and work collaboratively to
achieve foreign policy objectives. With Congressional support and timely
and adequate funding, we will pilot the new infrastructure and systems at
our diplomatic missions in Mexico and India during 2001.
Chief information officer