From the federal blogoshere...

A made-for-TV mystery, a new Navy blog, and TSA says 'relax'

A Made-for-TV Mystery
Justice Department
Feb. 25, 2010

A combination of new and old media helped the Justice Department close a missing-persons case after 22 years, writes Tracy Russo.

A woman watching ABC’s “The Forgotten” — a fictional mystery show about missing-persons cases — was inspired by a public service announcement to check out the Justice Department Web site, which stands for the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

She came across the record of a woman whose tattoos resembled those of her sister, who had gone missing decades earlier. A DNA analysis settled the case, and now her sister’s remains can be buried alongside their mother's and grandmother's. was launched in 2007 but became fully operational only last year, Russo writes.

Hand Screening: No Cause for Alarm
Transportation Security Administration
Feb. 23, 2010

Blogger Bob tries to calm public concerns about the increasing use of hand-screening systems at airport security stations.

In theory, the Explosives Trace Detection system might alert security personnel to potential terrorists. But apparently some gun enthusiasts are worried that an afternoon on the shooting range could lead to a false positive.

“From reading responses on our blog and elsewhere, it’s almost as if people think that if they alarm during an ETD test, a net is going to drop from the ceiling and federal agents will start rappelling down the walls,” he writes.

He says there's no need to worry. TSA has been working with the technology since 2002, and agency officials have a process for clearing individuals who trigger a false alarm.

The Navy’s Big Agenda
Navy CIO
Feb. 18, 2010

The concept of enterprise mobility is one of the top 10 items on the agenda of Navy Chief Information Officer Robert Carey.

Smart phones are making it possible for employees to stay securely connected to the service’s network. “This is freeing our workforce from the Industrial Age model of the ‘desk,’” Carey writes.

His office is also working on a metrics-based approach to determining where to invest money in cybersecurity. Other items on Carey’s agenda include social media, cloud computing and, of course, the Next Generation Enterprise Network.

USDA offers 100 years of food for thought
2, 2010

When it comes to American eating habits, experts at the Agriculture Department finds it helpful to take the long view. Thanks to the Food Availability Data System, that view stretches back to 1908 for many foods, writes Jean Buzby, an economist at USDA’s Economic Research Service.

USDA measures food availability by measuring the per capita amount of food available for human consumption. The experts also look at per capita calories per day for several hundred foods, which has a clear bearing on obesity concerns. Most notably, the data shows a sharp rise in the consumption of cheese since the 1970s and soft drinks since the 1940s, Buzby writes.

A Pioneer Blogger Plots a New Course

Navy Chief Information Officer Robert Carey is taking the concept of blogging in a new direction.

Two years after starting his public blog, Carey has set up shop behind the firewall with a new site called the "Pulse." He hopes that restricting access to Navy personnel will encourage a more free-flowing and substantive discussion about information technology management.

The original blog, which Carey continues to write, has proven to be a good source of ideas and has drawn responses from people across the department and beyond, he said. But the public nature of the blog limited the topics he could discuss.

The new site, which is restricted to personnel with Common Access Cards, changes all that. “The discussion can be more informal and candid as we formulate our ideas and strategize the way forward before they are ‘ready for prime time,’” he wrote in an e-mail message.

Unlike the public blog, the Pulse will allow readers to post comments immediately rather than submitting them for approval. Also, readers will be invited to write their own blog posts. 

Carey will contribute as well, but “my user account and posts will look just like everyone else’s,” he said. “As registered users, they will have the opportunity to shape the direction of the department, and that’s a pretty powerful thing.”

About the Author

John Monroe is Senior Events Editor for the 1105 Public Sector Media Group, where he is responsible for overseeing the development of content for print and online content, as well as events. John has more than 20 years of experience covering the information technology field. Most recently he served as Editor-in-Chief of Federal Computer Week. Previously, he served as editor of three sister publications:, which covered the state and local government IT market, Government Health IT, and Defense Systems.


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