Get in line

If you absolutely, positively want to be first in line for a shot of avian flu vaccine, join the Reserves or National Guard while holding a day job at a vaccine factory.

Military workers and employees of antiviral drug manufacturers are in line ahead of the rest of the population for avian flu drugs such as Tamiflu, according to the priority list buried in Appendix D of the Bush administration's pandemic plan released earlier this month.

If a pandemic hits, working in a drug factory or carrying a radio as a Marine grunt would be better than having a White House pass or being a member of Congress. Critical government leaders rank lower than medical workers who have patient contact, people older than 65 with high-risk conditions and pregnant women.

A top spot on the priority list evens the rather bleak odds of getting a vital vaccine as soon as one is available or a dose of Tamiflu. The United States has a population of almost 300 million, but the plan calls for stockpiling only 20 million doses of vaccine and just enough antiviral doses to treat about 70 million people, or 25 percent of the population.

Tracking counterfeit Indian handiworks

Work began last month on a federal database that will track sales of counterfeit American Indian jewelry and crafts. The database will be accessible to the Interior Department's Indian Arts and Crafts Board through a protected intranet connection, said contractors who are supporting system design.

All too often, fake American Indian weavings, pottery, fetishes and other handiworks show up on the Internet, in shops and on the streets. This summer, Interior launched a Web page for filing online complaints about falsely labeled products.

The maximum penalty for peddling fake wares is $250,000 and five years in prison for one person and as much as $1 million for a business.

Veterans wanted

GI Jobs, a monthly magazine, recently released its annual survey of the 25 best companies for veterans. EDS was listed as No. 13, the only information technology firm on the roster. The reason is simple, said Gordon Markley, recruiting manager at EDS' global recruiting group.

"We have a great cultural history of hiring a lot of folks from the military," Markley said. "They have strong leadership skills and have held positions of responsibility and authority. There are a lot of skills that transfer well into the private sector."

So far this year, the government integrator has hired 230 veterans, including many who have recently returned from Iraq.

Merge or not

The Justice Department is looking into Oracle's potential purchase of Siebel Systems to ensure that it does not break antitrust rules.

In an e-mail message, an official at the Department of Veterans Affairs wrote that Justice wanted to interview VA officials even if they don't know anything about the agency's recent purchase of Oracle's CRM software for $400,000. They are looking for folks "who can comment or theorize" on the merger.

That seems to be an odd way to determine whether a merger is a good idea or not.

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