Circuit

Secret warrants

Lawmakers are trying to amend the Patriot Act, a move Bush administration officials oppose.

"Now is not the time for us to be engaging in unilateral disarmament" on the legal weapons available for fighting terrorism, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told lawmakers April 5.

Among the law's controversial provisions is a section that permits officials to get secret warrants to search books, records, papers, documents and other items from businesses, hospitals and other organizations. Gonzales told lawmakers that the provision has been used 35 times, but not to obtain library, bookstore, medical or gun sale records.

Gonzales supports giving someone who receives a secret warrant under the provision the right to consult a lawyer and challenge the warrant in court. And he will support tightening the standard somewhat for issuing subpoenas.

However, opponents say that neither change addresses their central concern, which is that the provision allows government officials to seize records of people who are not suspected terrorists or spies.

Honk if you telework

A group of public and private executives unveiled a new Web site last week to help promote telework in the federal government and end the gridlock that has prevented it from flourishing.

The Web site, www.teleworkexchange.org, provides information to federal employees about how they can become teleworkers. It also provides an online chat room, dubbed the Water Cooler, for federal workers to discuss telework problems.

The online effort was prompted by a survey showing that only about 20 percent of federal workers telework. Karen Evans, administrator for e-government and information technology at the Office of Management and Budget, said that telework provides benefits for federal agencies that go beyond cost and environmental savings.

"We really want to eliminate the telework gridlock," she told a press conference at the annual FOSE show last week. Bumper stickers handed out at the press conference included "Honk if you'd rather be teleworking" and "My other car is a PC."

Industry partners in the group, known as the Telework Exchange, include Intel, CDW Government, Citrix Systems and Juniper Networks.

Calling the taxman

Some still prefer to call rather than e-mail the Internal Revenue Service to ask questions, according to a survey.

In a random phone survey conducted for the IRS Oversight Board, a majority of respondents said it was very important that they could e-file their tax returns, surf a Web site with tax information and submit tax questions via e-mail to the IRS. However, a larger majority said access to a toll-free IRS telephone number was very important.

Money in the bank

The Industry Advisory Council raised more than $300,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation at its annual dinner gala April 2.

During the event, the council also announced winners of IAC's awards for outstanding commitment to community service. They included Marcella Banks of the General Services Administration and Lou Anne Brossman of Juniper Networks, who received Dedication to Making a Difference awards; Col. Tom Catudal of the U.S. Army and Anne Reed of Acquisition Solutions for Dedication to People awards; and Mike Sade of the Commerce Department and Rick Miller of Lucent Technologies for Lifetime of Dedication awards.

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