The Circuit

Making a mint

In late October, the U.S. Mint had its first $5 million day from online sales of coins and collectibles. The grand total of online coin orders in the past year is $156 million, according to Glenn Hall, Electronic Business Office director at the U.S. Mint. That makes the U.S. Mint one of the Top 20 electronic retailers in the world.

Who's running HUD IT?

Changes are looming in the looming in the IT shop at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Scott Cragg, who has a stellar reputation as the deputy assistant secretary for technical services, will be working more closely with HUD chief information officer Gloria Parker. Meanwhile, Joseph Smith, the assistant secretary of the administration office that oversees IT, may lose some clout. None of those folks are returning phone calls, but something is going on. HUD spokesman Veda Lamar confirmed that there are "changes under way, but they are not complete. We have no information to provide publicly."

Another Ralph Nader?

Lance Brown, the creator of the StopCarnivore.org, is setting his sights on the 2008 presidential race. By then, Brown, 27, will be old enough — by law — to hold the office. He's drawn some public opinion already: Brown's online petition against Carnivore, the FBI's e-mail sniffer, had picked up 1,517 signatures as of Nov. 17. Brown's petition argues that the Carnivore violates constitutional protections against illegal search. FBI officials argue that Carnivore falls into the same category as phone tapping and can be used without violating a person's privacy.

State site getting makeover

The State Department is revamping its Web site, beefing up its home page with nine section portals to replace the five it currently uses. The makeover is designed to be more user-friendly, said Colleen Hope, director of electronic information at State. "The site was created in 1997. and anything from 1997 is pretty old right now," she said. The new site, slated to go online by the end of January, will offer icons linking users to nine second-tier locations, including general information about the department; countries and regions; international topics and issues; history, education and culture; travel and living overseas; and a business center and employment opportunities.

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