Week in Review

The difference a year can make

One year ago, Hurricane Katrina was leaving a lasting mark on the Gulf Coast. The storm also left a lasting mark on government -- federal, state and local -- and on the Homeland Security Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

An undercurrent of anger still exists along the Gulf Coast. Just this week, Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) told the Biloxi Sun Herald, "FEMA is a four-letter, dirty word." Some people have called for FEMA to be taken out from under DHS' umbrella, and others have debated what role the government can -- or should -- play during natural disasters.

Katrina has also had an impact on the government's procurement system.

Again, just last week, House Democrats released a study showing that the government awarded 70 percent of Katrina relief contracts without full competition, which they said wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.

Some of the post-Katrina debate has been more political than real. Critics complain about the lack of competition but then chastise agencies for taking too long to get aid to citizens.

Government officials mostly look back at Katrina with one eye on the good work that got done, but also with a wary eye on the problems that still exist.

Other noteworthy news
Army commands must identify computers that users might travel with and begin encrypting them immediately, the Army's chief information officer said.... The Energy Department plans to create a new associate CIO position to track information technology innovations and introduce new IT products to the department.... The Navy's Special Communications Requirements Division awarded CACI International a recompeted $96.4 million prime contract for integrated mobile communications systems.... The Defense Department found that the General Services Administration and DOD made numerous procurement errors, according to a yet-to-be-released inspector general's draft audit report.... Apple Computer announced a voluntary recall of lithium-ion battery packs containing battery cells manufactured by Sony, which Apple used in some of its notebook computers.... The Defense Information Systems Agency said it wants to issue a request for qualifications within 60 days in preparation for awarding a second contract for collaboration tools.... The Agriculture Department issued a request for proposals for modernizing its aging financial management system, which handles the biweekly payroll for one-third of all federal employees.... The Education Department and its Web site contractor said they would offer free credit monitoring as long as necessary to any of 21,000 student borrowers whose personal data was exposed on a student loan Web site.... The Army Small Computer Program issued an RFP for an IT Enterprise Solutions-2 Hardware contract potentially worth $5 billion.... President Bush signed an executive order directing federal agencies to publish price and quality information about health care and to use standards-based systems to exchange health care records.... The Interior Department's National Business Center will offer services to help agencies meet an Oct. 27 deadline to begin issuing secure identification cards to employees and contractors.... IBM entered into an agreement to buy Internet Security Systems, a publicly traded Internet security provider based in Atlanta.... President Bush nominated Susan Dudley, director of George Mason University's Regulatory Studies Program at the Mercatus Center, to be administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget.... Thales and Alcatel announced they have devised a way to encrypt data traveling over high-speed optical networks equipped with Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing modules.... The Homeland Security Department has good control over the physical security of its radio frequency identification systems, but it needs to address some related vulnerabilities before the systems are secure, according to the department's IG.

A roundup of the week's news, complete with links to the original stories, can be found on FCW.com Download's Week in Review.

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