The Circuit

Stumping for a National ID

Scott McNealy, chairman and chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems Inc., had plenty to say about aviation security and how to improve it, when he took part — sans necktie, as befits a Californian — in an April 29 luncheon sponsored by the Council for Excellence in Government at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

A supporter of a national identification card, McNealy said he would not want to be on an airplane with anyone who was not properly identified.

And another thing: The idea of might being right doesn't necessarily apply to security in a post-Sept. 11 world.

"You can literally hire millions of cops with guns," McNealy said, and they still would not be able to stop a terrorist attack today.

He said many were still operating under the assumption that if you "hire lots of cops and buy lots of bullets," you will be protected. And showing his own plastic ID card with his picture on it, he pointed out that anyone "could have done this at Kinko's."

Let's All Get Along

The General Accounting Office's Commercial Activities Panel, which released its recommendations for improving competition among organizations in the public and private sectors last week, brought together 12 federal, industry and union experts and officials who often consider themselves lifelong opponents when it comes to certain topics.

But to everyone's surprise, the panel meetings were characterized more by cooperation and teamwork than the anticipated shouting matches. Officials from both sides even admitted to agreeing with some points made by people they never expected to agree with.

However, not everything went smoothly. The working groups, which the panel planned to create to address specific issues, did not go as well, according to several members. These smaller meetings degenerated into sniping, quickly became completely unconstructive and were eventually abandoned, they said.

Still, David Walker, GAO comptroller general, said that even though the overall cooperation was better than expected, getting a unanimous agreement on the 10 principles they put together was a "minor miracle."

E-commerce on Steroids

For most government agencies, around-the-clock service is still elusive. But e-government analysts at Accenture are already looking beyond that, and they see "u-commerce" as the next wave for e-government.

U-commerce looks like e-commerce on steroids. Instead of being able to buy almost anything almost anytime via computer, Accenture says u-commerce promises to let consumers buy through TV sets and telephones using "voice and silent commerce" — whatever that is.

And it could be coming to a government near you, Accenture says in its latest e-government study, "Realizing the Vision."

"U-commerce will provide new and exciting opportunities to build the relationship between governments and their customers," Accenture analysts say in the report.

With u-commerce, government agencies will be able to deliver services via every telephone and TV set.

"This is a world in which low-power radio frequency sensors allow for a constant flow of information in every environment — the home, the car, industry and government," analysts say.

But "not surprisingly," they add, there is "little evidence" so far that governments are buying into u-commerce.

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