- By Judi Hasson
- Oct 16, 2000
Ready for a Facelift
Despite its popularity, the Internal Revenue Service's Web site needs
a new look, according to Terry Lutes, the new acting chief of the IRS Electronic
Tax Administration. He has tapped Greg Parsons, the director of modernization
at ETA, to study the site and look at a "fundamental redesign." Lutes also
wants to know "who comes there and why." That puts IRS among the agencies
trying to keep up with the public's demand for good-looking sites with easy-to-read
and easy-to-find information.
Bob Dies, the FBI's assistant director for information resources, says
the bureau should concentrate on what it does best: investigation. "I'm
not a phone company, so I probably don't need to own telephone lines," he
said in an interview Oct. 11. However, he said, the bureau buys computer
servers and FBI employees write applications even though the FBI is not
in the computer or software business. "The question we should ask ourselves
is, "Why don't we outsource it?'" Dies said. "At the end of the day, the
bureau is here to investigate. I think we should try to outsource as much
as we can." Dies knows what he's talking about. For decades, IBM Corp. where Dies spent 30 years operated its own manufacturing and applications
operations, he said. Ten years ago, IBM outsourced those areas to concentrate
on its core business.
Shh... VA Benefits Online
The Department of Veterans Affairs has been holding up the official
announcement of a new Web-based service that would enable veterans to apply
for benefits online. The official reason: The VA is still testing it out.
The unofficial one: "It's the campaign, stupid." The department and others
connected with the site (vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp) have been trying
to snag Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore to help with the official
launch but were turned down by his campaign. They are now "exploring their
options," but so far, there's no time, date or communication to tell veterans
that the new service will be available. But Edward Meagher, the special
assistant to the secretary who has been nominated to be the next chief information
officer at the VA, has been appointed to make sure the VA is able to demonstrate
a "single, interactive interface to multiple VA applications." The deadline
for compliance is Oct. 16.
Evelyn Lieberman, the undersecretary of State for public diplomacy,
recently underscored how information can be missed even in the Information
Age. Sabile "Billi" Tmava came to the United States earlier this year to
receive an FCW award for her work at a refugee camp in Germany. The teenager
from Kosovo had trained other refugees how to use the Internet to locate
and contact family members, but the State Department would not let her in
the door because she had no proof of identity, Lieberman said at NetDiplomacy
2000, a three-day program at the State Department. Tmava did make it into
the building without the documents and "into the hearts of a lot of people
in this building," Lieberman said.
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