The circuit

Seats That Remain Warm

What's good for the goose may not necessarily be good for the gander. Last week, we reported that officials at the General Services Administration were rethinking seat management, where agencies use a single contract to manage network hardware, software and services.

But over at the Treasury Department, officials like seat management so much that they have recently awarded a $45 million contract to Verizon Communications for the Digital Telecommunications Switching System 2 (DTS2). Verizon — for one year with four one-year options — will maintain and support Treasury's voice communications network in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. The network connects Treas.ury headquarters with its bureaus and offices in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia — overall, 50 locations and 35,000 employees. Verizon will be responsible for the total life-cycle management of the Treasury's DTS2 network. And no rethinking is involved.

Crossing Palms at the CIA

Security is the Information Age's biggest challenge, and no agency is more paranoid about it than the CIA. Visitors to headquarters in Langley, Va., must park mobile phones at the reception desk, and officials disable floppy disk drives in classified computers to prevent the downloading of sensitive data. So some staff members were taken aback when the agency recently lifted the ban on personal digital assistants, including some Palm Inc. products and Handspring Visors.

"We don't want to prevent anyone from moving into the Digital Age," a CIA spokesman said recently in U.S. News and World Report. But some worry that even basic PDAs pose a security risk, as they boast infrared transmission abilities, which can be intercepted, and can store reams of data. CIA brass defend the new policy as safe because more advanced PDAs — those that have wireless Internet connections or have a recording capacity — are still banned. But hard-liners still fret. "There are those," one official told U.S. News and World Report, "who want strip-searches at the gate."

The Times Still Need a Changin'

We note with great sadness that the federal government has a long way to go in dealing effectively with security issues. Just recently, security officials at Energy Department headquarters refused to admit Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) the only Chinese American ever elected to Congress.

When he arrived to give a speech, even his congressional ID couldn't get him in the door. Never mind that he's a two-term member of Congress, a graduate of Stanford and Yale Law School and a member of the House Science Committee. Despite all that, officials told him that IDs could be faked. Wu was finally admitted after 15 minutes and the assistance of two other security types.

As Luck Would Have It

Mike Alexander, former special assistant to Joseph Leo, chief information officer at the Agriculture Department, left USDA last year to take a job working for Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, ranking Democrat on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. And now he has lucked out. With the change of Senate leadership, Alexander will now work for the majority and handle such issues as e-government, election reform and federal employee issues.

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