DREN, Chapter 11

The latest chapter in the saga of the Defense Department's contract for a high-speed network for researchers takes us to bankruptcy court.

Previously, WorldCom Inc., which was awarded the $450 million Defense Research and Engineering Network (DREN) contract, announced that it had accounting problems — leading the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to examine DOD's options.

But last week, WorldCom added a new chapter to the DREN tale — Chapter 11, that is — when it filed for bankruptcy protection. It would seem that DISA could now feel free to pull WorldCom's DREN win. That, at least, has been the trend. Global Crossing Ltd., which had won the DREN contract last year before DOD withdrew that award because of protests, was about to be tapped again for the contract. But when Global Crossing officials notified DOD that the company was about to file for bankruptcy protection, the award was delayed. DISA then removed Global Crossing from the competition.

But in the latest twist, WorldCom's filing means that DOD cannot immediately terminate the DREN contract.

"The DREN contract is considered an asset under federal bankruptcy laws," said DISA spokeswoman Betsy Flood. Therefore, any legal action, such as terminating the contract, would have to go through the bankruptcy court because of rules that prevent "adverse contractual actions" without court approval.

This is merely the latest in the roller-coaster history of this contract and comes just weeks after two of the losing vendors — Sprint and Global Crossing — filed new protests with the General Accounting Office objecting to the WorldCom award. Those protests are pending.

Uniform Pagers, Phones

It's now commonplace to see people of all ages, from students to executives, with multiple wireless phones, pagers and other electronic devices clipped to their belts or ringing from their purses. But the new Army uniform regulation, which goes into effect Aug. 1, could be bad news for soldiers who have become slaves to their personal digital assistants.

Under the new regulation, only one electronic device — either a wireless phone or pager, but not both — will be authorized for wear on the uniform when soldiers are performing official duties. The device must be black and may not exceed 4inches by 2 inches by 1 inch.

Wireless phones and pagers that do not comply with the criteria may not be worn on the uniform and must be carried in the hand, bag or other carrying container, according to the new policy.

Wireless phones and pagers once were used mostly by medical personnel, but now soldiers are doing more than one job and need to be mobile to do them, Lt. Col. Margaret Flott, chief of the Individual Readiness Policy Division for Army G-1, told the Army News Service.

Stupid Army Tricks

Rarely do the subjects of these pages garner mention on late night talk shows. That changed after an audit of Army credit card purchases found all kinds of interesting items — from mortgage payments to Elvis Presley photographs.

CBS late night host David Letterman July 18 seized on Army personnel who used their government-issued credit cards to get cash, which they then used at strip clubs. (The Government Accounting Office noted, however, that some establishments masked those purchases as "food" or "restaurant." Auditors said that this was part of an effort to bypass the blocking of such purchases.)

Letterman quipped that former President Clinton, when he heard about the Army's purchases, was disappointed he hadn't come up with the idea while he was in office. Bah-dah-dum!

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.


  • Workforce
    White House rainbow light shutterstock ID : 1130423963 By zhephotography

    White House rolls out DEIA strategy

    On Tuesday, the Biden administration issued agencies a roadmap to guide their efforts to develop strategic plans for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA), as required under a as required under a June executive order.

  • Defense
    software (whiteMocca/

    Why DOD is so bad at buying software

    The Defense Department wants to acquire emerging technology faster and more efficiently. But will its latest attempts to streamline its processes be enough?

Stay Connected