Bite that hand

The Terrorism Information Awareness (TIA) program might be dead, but the researchers working on the project aren't going quietly into the night.

Appearing before the Defense Department's Technology and Privacy Advisory Committee, several researchers took time to theorize why the program didn't make it.

Some blamed bad luck, others pointed to bad public relations and still others found the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency itself responsible.

"DARPA does not properly appreciate the privacy problem and they never did," said Latanya Sweeney, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University and researcher on DARPA's Bio-Event Advanced Leading Indicator Recognition Technology (BIO-ALIRT) and Privacy, one component of TIA. "America [felt it] had to choose between safety and privacy, but it did not have to be a choice. That was something DARPA never embraced."

David Jensen, a computer science professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and project member on another TIA component, blamed public backlash.

"DARPA was caught in the path of a perfect storm of public opinion," Jensen said. "It was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. They did a rotten job at communicating the research they were doing and [communicating] that they are not an intelligence agency."

DIMHRS on Slim-Fast?

It turns out the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System (DIMHRS) development and integration contract wasn't delayed for three months because it had trouble receiving approval. The real reason was because it was too heavy.

According to Navy Capt. Valerie Carpenter, joint program manager for DIMHRS, the proposals received from the five bidding vendors — Northrop Grumman Information Technology, Lockheed Martin Corp., IBM Corp., Computer Sciences Corp. and PricewaterhouseCoopers -weighed more than 4,800 pounds.

"There were technical specs and management and cost analyses, and the list goes on," Carpenter said. "We had to give them each a fair evaluation of their proposal, and that simply took more time than we would have liked."

But when the final decision was made — Northrop won the contract — she likened the selection process to Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel: a long and laborious process.

Borland Consulting LLC

Dave Borland, retiring Army deputy chief information officer, will start a consulting firm.

The 33-year civil servant said Sept. 30 that he will specialize in information technology and information infostructure. The Air Force veteran and George Washington University master's degree graduate announced Sept. 26 that he will retire Nov. 30.

The flexible hours that personal business and consulting provides should help his golf game.

Morgan smacks NMCI

Morgan Stanley late last month issued a report on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, and the news from Wall Street ain't good for lead contractor EDS.

According to the 23-page report, Morgan gives the company "less than a 1 percent probability of meeting current [fourth-quarter fiscal 2003 and first-quarter fiscal 2004] accumulated cutover seat targets, given current cutover seat rates averaging 290 per day [during the past nine months], compared with 1,500 seats per day required to achieve its objectives."

The report says that 2004 could be a pivotal year for the company and the project, as EDS will have "ample opportunity to improve NMCI's free cash flow generation."

Morgan will be monitoring transition rates, the Marine Corps' rollout and government funding to determine the program's health from EDS' perspective.

We, too, will be watching the vital signs.

Army branding blitzkrieg

Gen. Eric Shinseki, retired Army chief of staff, first categorized the service forces as the Legacy Force, the Stryker Brigade Combat Teams and the Objective Force.

Gen. John Keane, retiring acting Army chief, then changed their names to the Legacy Force, the Stryker Force and the Objective Force. Gen. Peter Schoomaker, new Army chief of staff, now wants them called the Current Force and the Future Force.

"We're not supposed to say Objective Force anymore," said a top official in the Army's Office of the Chief Information Officer, who spoke Sept. 30 at the 2003 Army Directors of Information Management Conference in Atlanta.

So out is the Legacy Force, the Stryker Force and the Objective Force. In is the Current Force and the Future Force. Roger that.

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