A Chapter in the Saga

For the Defense Department's DREN contract, it's like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.

When the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) last month awarded the Defense Research and Engineering Network, or DREN, to WorldCom Inc., DISA thought it had avoided the tricky financial issues of the once high-flying but now financially strapped Global Crossing Ltd.

But last week, Bernard Ebbers, WorldCom chief executive officer, resigned amid company woes — plummeting stock prices and a mountain of debt.

Meanwhile, three of the four unsuccessful vendors — Global Crossing, Sprint and incumbent AT&T — have filed protests with the General Accounting Office. Somewhat surprisingly, Qwest Communications International Inc. decided against filing a protest.

The $450 million DREN contract is for a high-speed network for Defense laboratories and researchers across the country.

Stay tuned for another riveting episode of "All My Chil-DREN."

What's Hot, What's Not

During his presentation at last month's Army Small Computer Program's information technology conference in Reno, Nev., Daniel Bradford, director of the Army's Technology Integration Center at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., listed more than a dozen hot Army technologies. Bradford singled out Gigabit Ethernet networks, as well as the related areas of IP and the World Wide Web, as the most complete solutions for achieving the service's goals.

Videoconferencing, bandwidth availability, directory services and Army knowledge management were among the hot areas that might be on the right track but needed more work, he said, adding that biometric technology also is promising, but is a "gimmick right now more than anything else."

Bradford named only two cold areas: Asynchronous Transfer Mode and policy-based networking. He said those technologies became obsolete with the emergence of sound Gigabit Ethernet networks.

The Army faces a "chicken-and-the-egg question" when it comes to IT modernization because its leaders want to save money on technology in order to bolster the future force, but a large initial investment is needed to make that happen, Bradford said.

Procrastinators, Unite!

What if you created an online discussion and nobody came?

DOD encountered that problem when officials decided to test a new way of eliciting public comment: Post issues online to spur cross-discussion in the hopes of improving proposed government regulations.

The first test was on DOD's proposed rule for implementing Section 803 of the fiscal 2002 Defense Authorization Act.

Deidre Lee, director of Defense procurement, speaking at a public hearing April 29, noted that only 18 comments had been posted. (By the middle of last week, DOD had received 26 comments.)

Traditionally, comments have been posted only after the public comment period closes, and most comments have been filed on the deadline. DOD has been working to educate people about the public comment pilot project.

Obviously, not everybody is used to it.

There may still be time to voice your opinion. Comments close May 6. Go to http://emissary.acq.osd. mil/dar/dfars.nsf and select item No. 2001-D017, titled "Competition Requirement for Purchase of Services Pursuant to Multiple Award Contracts."

With such a user-friendly Web address and subject title, it's hard to believe that it has been difficult to get comments, isn't it?

Intercept something? Send it to [email protected]

About the Authors

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine,, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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