The Circuit

E-Gov Bill Moves Along

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) is using the House version of the e-government bill to further his push for incorporating commercial practices and expertise into government processes. On Oct. 1, Davis, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee, added two amendments to the e-government bill (H.R. 2458) before sending it to the full Government Reform Committee for a vote.

One amendment was Davis' Digital Tech Corps bill (H.R. 3925), which passed the House in April but hasn't made it through the Senate. The measure would allow midlevel information technology managers in federal agencies and private companies to swap jobs for at least six months and as long as two years.

Rep. Jim Turner (D-Texas), ranking member on the subcommittee, introduced the e-government bill last year. He fully supported Davis' amendment, even though federal employees' unions oppose the Digital Tech Corps bill.

The other amendment Davis added fully authorizes the share-in-savings method in which the contractor pays for technology upfront and is paid back with savings realized by the modernization.

Turner opposed this amendment, pointing out that share-in-savings is still a fairly new and untested process.

Davis also blocked an attempt to make the leader of the proposed federal e-government office a Senate-confirmed position, an issue that has been debated for months in both the House and Senate.

The bill will be debated by the full committee alongside S. 803, a similar bill introduced by Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and passed by the Senate earlier this year.

Freeze? What Freeze?

The General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service, so far, is surviving the information technology funding freeze. Sandra Bates, FTS commissioner, said the agency hasn't lost any business because of the freeze the Office of Management and Budget has placed on the funding for planned systems in federal agencies slated to become part of the proposed Homeland Security Department.

Fortunately, much of FTS' homeland security work is at the Defense Department, which isn't affected by the freeze, Bates told a congressional panel last week. And other homeland work performed by FTS includes smaller projects at the regional level that don't hit the $500,000 threshold set by OMB.

But last year's terrorist attacks have FTS officials thinking about the service's role in homeland security, Bates said. She has been talking with Steve Cooper, chief information officer at the Office of Homeland Security, about how FTS can provide contract support for homeland security. They are still in the early discussion phase, she said, but the ball is rolling.

Shuffling the Deck at HUD

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has quietly made a few changes in its IT shop. Gloria Parker, who had been the agency's CIO, became the new chief technology officer this summer. Meanwhile, Vickers Meadows, a Bush appointee who was confirmed as HUD's assistant secretary for administration in March, has taken on the additional responsibility of CIO.

The CIO, a political appointee, is in charge of all IT at the department. The CTO, a career position, is in charge of implementing technical changes at HUD.

Meadows served as special assistant to the president, director of White House management and director of administration for the Bush/Cheney transition team. From 1995 to 2000, she was the director of administration for then-Gov. Bush in Texas. And during the Reagan administration, she served in the White House in various positions, including director of presidential gifts.

About a year ago, Circuit reported that Parker's role was changing. Now we have a little better idea of how.

What's in a Name?

John Gauss, CIO at the Department of Veterans Affairs, has plenty of rank to go along with his name. He's a retired rear admiral with the Navy and has a Ph.D. in electronic engineering. So what's a congressman to call him?

Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, asked that very question at a recent subcommittee hearing.

Gauss humbly said he decided to follow the practice established by Gen. Omar Bradley, one of the greatest wartime generals in U.S. history. When Bradley became head of the VA, he put aside his military title. And that's what Gauss is doing, too. So call him Dr. Gauss, if you please.

An A for Effort

Rep. Stephen Horn (R-Calif.) may be leaving Congress at the end of this term, but that doesn't necessarily mean that agencies will no longer be graded on their information security systems. Horn's grades first gained notoriety during the Year 2000 computer problem.

Now Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, is considering picking up the baton when Horn leaves. SANS already works with multiple government agencies on technical and policy security matters, and it would be a pity to let a source of motivation like this go unused, he said.

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