The Circuit

The Legality of Sharing

Anthrax scares are shining the light on the inadequacies of current state laws designed to combat bioterrorist attacks. So Oct. 30, the Center for Law and the Public's Health at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins universities released model draft legislation, now on the fast track in many state governments, to empower state and local public health officials with greater authorities. The draft includes improving information sharing.

"The laws need to facilitate information sharing between their networks and those in law enforcement and emergency management...among various agencies and from state to state and from federal to state," said Georgetown professor Lawrence Gostin, the center's director. "At the moment, confidentiality laws thwart that vital information sharing."

The Check can be E-mailed

With anthrax and mail scares proliferating, Social Security Administration officials have an idea for the more than 10 million recipients who do not have their Social Security checks deposited electronically — sign up and get your money on time and with no hassle. More than 80 percent — or 36 million Americans — get their checks electronically every month, avoiding the current hassles and fears over tampered mail.

Direct deposit has many advantages, according to Larry Massanari, SSA's acting commissioner. There's no need to wait in line or worry that a check has been stolen. "The only difference with direct deposit is that checks are not printed or mailed," he said. And there's no need to worry about anthrax or any other chemical.


Government and industry leaders came together in an open forum last week, hosted by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), to discuss cybersecurity in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. They chose the high-tech venue of a real-time Web chat, and Paul Kurtz, director of critical infrastructure protection at the National Security Council and the chat's "featured expert," said he hopes the forum is "repeated as often as possible" to bring together government and industry ideas.

But before they hold the next Web chat, they might want to consider a slight upgrade. Online participants who were idle for 20 minutes were automatically disconnected from the more than one-hour discussion. It was impossible for users to read what was said while they were off-line, leaving gaps in the conversation.

Where's Gloria?

We hear from some very good sources that the role of the talented Gloria Parker, chief information officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is changing. We're just not sure how. She is no longer co-chairwoman, with the Agriculture Department's acting CIO Ira Hobbs, of the CIO Council's Federal IT Workforce Committee, and we hear that one very big HUD contract — the HUD Information Technology Service — has been transferred from her jurisdiction.

Parker isn't commenting and neither is Hobbs. But folks in the office of Treasury Department CIO Jim Flyzik said there is no mystery — the CIO Council is looking at bigger and better assignments for Parker. n

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