The Circuit

Ready for departure

As the presidential election nears, those chief information officers who are political appointees are preparing their agencies for their departures. For example, Agriculture Department CIO Joseph Leo is getting his deputy, Ira Hobbs, in line for the job. At the Industry Advisory Council's Executive Leadership Conference last week, Leo said that many political CIOs are giving their career deputies the mantle to make sure someone with the know-how is ready to step in when the administration changes. That should make it easier to continue technology initiatives during the transition period following the election.

Outsource This!

Treasury CIO Jim Flyzik is one of those people who comes to mind when considering a list of candidates for an governmentwide CIO. When asked recently what would be the first thing he would do as "IT czar," Flyzik replied: "Start an innovation fund, push smart cards and outsource everything."

Web Site Rocks

Rep. Asa Hutchinson, (R-Ark.) found out just how pervasive the Internet has become during a recent visit to a rural area in his Arkansas district. A constituent approached him, intent on having a word with the congressman, Hutchinson recounted before an audience attending a Capitol Hill e-government conference. Noting the man's overalls and chewing tobacco, Hutchinson figured, "Here comes the gun control question." The man paused to spit, then looked Hutchinson in the eye and said, "You've got a great Web site, congressman."

Bye-Bye eFBI

Although the FBI's plan for reinventing its communications system via the World Wide Web remains in effect, the program's name has been changed, according to Mark Tanner of the FBI's Office of Information Resources Management. Several versions of the program and its name have been tried out in the past year, with some changes forced by technological advances and others by political pressure. The program originally was called the Information Sharing Initiative. ISI was a half-billion-dollar plan to connect FBI agents and offices nationwide using existing phone lines. Congress balked at the cost and froze funding. The FBI revised the plan after determining it would be much less costly to make it Web-based. The bureau called it "eFBI." But an FBI spokesman said some members of Congress apparently weren't comfortable with that name. Finally, the FBI has come up with the Technology Upgrade Plan. It doesn't have the same ring to it as "eFBI," the FBI spokesman said, but it's a more accurate description of the system.

Barcelona Baths

The United States took a couple of hits at the Information Security Solutions Europe conference in Barcelona, Spain, last month. The Commerce Department's undersecretary of export administration, William Reinsch, stood up against many disgruntled European security officials. He defended the administration's new encryption export policy, which is finally allowing encryption products and technology to be sent to European Union governments. As the sole official representative of the U.S. government, he also fielded questions about the FBI's Carnivore system from people who seemed even more nervous about the e-mail bugging system than the privacy advocates in the United States.

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