The Circuit

Unsung Heroes

In the hours and days after the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history, information technology vendors and other high-tech experts lent their help and resources to the government without thinking about cost, contracts or the clock. Coordination and collaboration efforts were remarkable, according to some.

"Companies who were competitors were working together to get things up and running," said Steve Miller, product leader of the U.S. Army Small Business Computer Program. As the dust settled, the Pentagon needed large quantities of laptops quickly so employees could work from remote locations, he said. "Vendors were very flexible in delivering the stuff."

In fact, competitors Dell Computer Corp. and GTSI Corp. worked side-by-side — Dell providing the laptops and GTSI sending personnel to help get the equipment to employees. "The cooperation in the IT community was phenomenal," Miller said.

And we at Federal Computer Week salute the IT community for pitching in during this national crisis.

A Select Audience

Law enforcement agencies thirst for information and new ways to collect it, particularly since the Sept. 11 tragedies. So much so that some agencies are considering unusual arrangements.

For example, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms relies on CNN's vast resources for information on events that fall under its purview. But not all events are newsworthy enough to make CNN's on-air news lineup, leaving ATF agents in the dark on events they would like to know about.

The agency has contacted CNN executives about providing ATF with news that does not make it on the air, according to the agency's chief information officer, Pat Schambach, who addressed an audience attending an FCW forum last week on how vendors should work with the government in the aftermath of the attacks.

No headline news from CNN yet on how such an arrangement would affect journalistic standards.

IRS Tax Relief

In the 48 hours after the attacks, Internal Revenue Service officials worked hard to set up an e-mail system allowing them to field tax questions from corporations about potential tax relief, according to Dwight Davis, acting deputy director for pre-filing technical guidance at the IRS.

"The business world has universal access to e-mail...and this helps us reduce the misunderstandings that can come," he said. The e-mail account, part of the IRS' corporate e-mail system, uses Microsoft Corp. Outlook running in a Windows NT environment. Security measures, including sophisticated user authentication, are in place to ensure the confidentiality of taxpayer inquiries.

Unitech Taps Friedman

Universal Systems & Technology Inc. (Unitech), a systems engineering and technology training company based in Centreville, Va., named Nancy Friedman president and chief operating officer. Friedman, 52, is well known in the technology arena. Before joining Unitech, she was president of Unisys U.S. Federal Government Group and also senior vice president and general manager of Litton Industries Inc.'s commercial information technology division. She also was president of Cargo Economics, a transportation consulting firm in Washington, D.C.

"I'm new to this company, but not to the quiet heroes of the [Federal Aviation Administration]," Friedman said.

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