Letters to the editor

Lisagor gets it

Michael Lisagor couldn't have been more correct when he wrote in the March 29 issue, "It is vitally important to listen to what your employees have to say."

Good managers already get it. Unfortunately, managers ruled primarily by ego and self-promotion rather than aiming to make the organization the very best it can be will never get it.

T. Rose

U.S. Air Force

Who's watching the watchdog?

The General Accounting Office's report on critical infrastructure protection, "Challenges and Efforts to Secure Control Systems," falls far short of enlightenment and contributes little, if anything, to the burgeoning literature on protecting the nation's critical control systems.

Indeed, the lack of specifics or a clear focus on exactly what the problem is or might be

for existing control systems, coupled with the constant reference to all sorts of cyberthreats in general, makes the report difficult to read. Treating control systems as a monolithic entity, the report provides no indication of what the weak links really are or what elements need greater attention. The cursory treatment given existing security measures for control systems is particularly appalling.

If GAO is concerned about coordination, perhaps it should have addressed a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report published in July 2003 on the same subject titled, "Critical Infrastructure: Control Systems and the Terrorist Threat." Striking similarities in structure and content raise serious questions about duplication of effort. And why would it take from July 2003 to December 2003 for GAO officials to complete the report given the work done by CRS? How much did the report cost taxpayers? Who reviews this work to ensure quality?

Jim Weidner

Independent analyst

Keep licensing simple

A comparison of the benefits of buying new, discounted copies of software and choosing a licensing agreement favors licensing. But licensing management, metrics and agreements constantly change, which makes licensing more difficult than buying new software. Simplified and stable licensing agreements would help. I'm waiting for Linux and Sun Microsystems Inc. to give Microsoft Corp. some competition.

James Grundman

Rohnert Park, Calif.

Defense infrastructure protection has gaps

Being in the intelligence community and working closely with the government, I am happy to see the significant

emphasis government officials are placing on defense infrastructure security.

However, I notice that there is still a gap within the information assurance and Common Criteria areas. These two elements make up a crucial part in hardening information technology security as well as setting standards within the multiple-system environment in which federal entities operate 96 percent of the time. What good is it to fund a million-dollar project if you are not going to make sure the system will meet certain standards other than commercial industry standards and that it incorporates interoperable security countermeasures?

Corey Martin

Red tape hurts fed performance

As I read your Feb. 11 online article, "Assessments: There ought to be a law, officials say," and others that try to force private-industry comparisons on the federal government, I am also thinking about my workload.

If I were to compare my performance for this set of tasks to what I would be doing at Boeing Co. or Lockheed Martin Corp., I would have to say I am not as good as those in the private sector. Why not? Although I can do the job for less money, I have been sitting on several projects that are held up by regulations and procedures that I have to follow in the public sector that I wouldn't have to follow in the private sector. So why keep my co-workers and me around if we cannot compete because of the mandated rules we have to follow? When looking at a rosebush, if you only see the woody, thorny stems, then you would dig that plant up. But if you looked further, then you would see the flowers.

R. White

Senior test engineer

Hill Air Force Base


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