Palm unveils new devices

Palm Inc. introduced two handheld devices March 19 featuring expandability and security options that the company hopes will appeal to federal customers.

The Palm m500 and m505, which use Version 4.0 of Palm's operating system, enable users to add storage, wireless modems and more.

Agencies and commercial organizations have been requesting handhelds with more memory and more robust security, said John Inkley, Palm's manager of federal sales.

The latest operating system also lets users mark data as private so it can be hidden when someone else uses the device. Users can also make the device accessible only with a password.

State speaks Spanish

The voice may say "State Department," but the speaker will be an employee of TeleTech Holdings Inc.

Under a contract awarded to Denver-based TeleTech by Computer Sciences Corp., the company will route Spanish-language calls for U.S. visa information to a communications center in Leon, Mexico. When foreign callers to a U.S. consulate or embassy indicate a preference for Spanish, the calls will be routed to Mexico. TeleTech's agreement with CSC has a one-year base period and nine one-year options, for a total value of $100 million.

Tax break for telework?

Stay home, says Rep. Frank Wolf.

The Northern Virginia Republican introduced legislation March 13 to let workers deduct $500 from their taxes to offset the cost of setting up workstations at home if they use them at least 75 days a year to avoid commuting to offices. "There is nothing magical about strapping ourselves into a car, driving sometimes up to an hour and a half to an office only to sit in front of a computer terminal," Wolf said.

Last year, Wolf added language to the Transportation Department budget requiring federal agencies to identify employees whose jobs are appropriate for teleworking one or more days a week. This year agencies are expected to begin offering employees the option to telecommute.

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