The Circuit

The Times They are a Changin'

The world was a different place when the Industry Advisory Council planned its annual three-day Executive Leadership Conference in Hershey, Pa., Oct. 14 to 16. The topic was e-government, but when participants arrived at the conference, terrorism was on everyone's mind. Even as the conference got under way, some chief information officers were conducting urgent calls following anthrax scares at some federal buildings in Washington, D.C.

"It isn't that our priorities have changed," said Ira Hobbs, acting CIO at the Agriculture Department. "They have intensified in some ways."

When the fire alarm went off during the first full day of the conference, only a few took it seriously, including K. Adair Martinez, CIO at the Veterans Benefits Administration. She's worked on emergency plans for government and was taking no chances. She spotted an exit and left the building. We note that she was the only high-ranking government information technology official we saw do so.

Terrorism Alert

A new e-mail subscription service is now available that provides statements, transcriptions and fact sheets issued by the State Department on the campaign against terrorism. The e-mail service, DOSCoalition, is free to anyone who registers at www.state.gov.

Meanwhile, a nonprofit consortium of more than 50 leading health care companies is offering a blueprint of how IT can help the U.S. public health infrastructure. The companies include Electronic Data Systems Corp., IBM Corp. and Pfizer Health Solutions Inc. The blueprint calls for working with the federal government to provide information in the event of a bioterrorism attack.

"To successfully address the challenge of bioterrorism, we must work together to [improve] the health care infrastructure," said Russell Ricci, general manager of IBM's Global Healthcare Industry business. "It makes more sense to expand and link existing clinical information and response systems, rather than try to construct a whole new infrastructure from scratch."

FirstGov Gets a Workout

G. Martin Wagner, associate administrator of governmentwide policy at the General Services Administration, said the FirstGov Web portal got a real workout last month. There were 1.3 million unique visitors, 2 million visits and an average of two to two-and-a-half minutes per visit, which Wagner said indicated successful searches.

The site averaged about 30,000 visits Sept. 10. Two days later, that was up to 160,000 visits, with that holding level for a few weeks. Wagner said the site still has a long way to go, but was a valuable resource to many in their searches for government information after Sept. 11. A Quiet Anniversary

Linda Cureton, acting CIO at the Energy Department, had her one-year anniversary at the agency Oct. 23 and celebrated by serving on a CIO panel discussion at the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association 2001 Vision Conference.

Cureton joined DOE as associate CIO for operations last year and became acting CIO when Howard Landon's term in that role expired last month. Before joining DOE, Cureton was deputy director of the computer services staff in the Justice Management Division at the Justice Department.

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