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
.... 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 repor
t.... 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
.... 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
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
.... IBM entered into an agreement to buy Internet
, 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
, 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.