Circuit

Overloading BlackBerries

New technology is making a difference in Congress but not always the difference that people want.

Many lawmakers and their staffs now have Research in Motion Ltd. wireless BlackBerry e-mail devices, which they carry everywhere. This makes some people much more productive, but it's also become a problem at times, said Bob Dix, chief of staff for Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee.

One of the biggest disruptions occurs when an e-mail is sent out to a group and people get caught in the wave of one-line responses that go back and forth like a Ping-Pong ball, he said.

What's in September?

September's flower is the morning glory and its birthstone is sapphire. But if the Council for Excellence in Government has its way, the month would also be designated "Homeland Security Preparedness Month."

Council officials, who recently released a report on the public's homeland security vision, asked Tom Ridge, secretary of the Homeland Security Department, to bestow that designation on the month. September also would herald a number of events to underscore homeland security's significance, such as public meetings with elected leaders and emergency officials and on-site workplace training and information. School officials and students also would coordinate activities.

Dave McClure, vice president of e-government at the council, also wants members of Congress to include an emergency preparedness at-a-glance card in that month's constituent newsletter.

Bates wins

Sandra Bates, commissioner of the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service, received the John J. Franke Award for her contribution to federal service.

The American Council for Technology presented the award at the Management of Change Conference in Philadelphia.

Seniors win, too

Officials at AFCEA International's Washington, D.C., chapter — an active sponsor of higher education in science, mathematics, computer IT and engineering — have announced their 2004 college scholarship recipients.

The AFCEA chapter raises funding for the scholarship program through year-round program activities and corporate donations. This year, the association awarded 15 scholarships worth $87,000, bringing the chapter's donations to $1.3 million distributed among 200 winners in the Washington, D.C., area since the program's inception in 1989.

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