The best of the federal blogosphere

No DNA tests at airport checkpoints
TSA Blog
Feb. 26, 2011

Is the Transportation Security Administration about to start scanning the genetic makeup of airline passengers?

No way, writes TSA’s Blogger Bob. In a recent post refuting an erroneous news report, Bob assures readers that “TSA is not testing and has no plans to use any technology capable of testing DNA.

So why do some people think it does?

“An article was posted to ‘The Daily’ today with the misleading headline ‘Genetic Patdown,’ " Bob writes. “Even more misleading, the first sentence leads off with the mention of airport scanners. So obviously, even though the rest of the article says nothing about airports or TSA, some readers naturally assumed this was a new technology that would be heading to the airports, and the tweets went wild. It didn't help that ‘tsa-scanner’ was included in the URL.”

The Daily news service, which launched in early February, publishes articles directly to the Apple iPad and online.

Broadband plan and recent failure
The Hill’s Congress blog
Feb. 28, 2011

Craig Settles, a broadband industry analyst, writes that President Barack Obama’s National Broadband Plan is uncomfortably similar to the push for municipal broadband just a few years ago.

The problem, Settles argues, is the insistence on wireless communications. “Official D.C. is doing the same thing hundreds of elected officials did in 2006 — advocating a great set of significant, attainable economic goals, but betting on the weaker technology horse to carry us across this finish line,” he writes.

During the recent push for municipal broadband, the idea was to have towns and cities provide centralized Internet connections, which anyone with a Wi-Fi device could connect to from anywhere within range.

“Politicians nationwide glorified the power of Wi-Fi to produce a host of economic outcomes, from attracting new companies and making local business more profitable to keeping college grads from leaving town," Settles writes. "Soon every city and hamlet had to have a Wi-Fi network. In 2007, communities woke up to the fact that Wi-Fi was inadequate for enabling the kind of computing tasks required to achieve the economic outcomes promoted.”

Settles argues that a broadband policy should put fiber-optic cables ahead of wireless and let local areas determine what approach is best for them.

“D.C. policy people are enamored with wireless,” he writes. “With this fixation, much money and time will be lost. In those communities whose successful networks attract companies with new jobs, propel local businesses into global markets and transform education, wireless usually is just part of the picture. They understand that businesses and other job-producing organizations require fiber in the next three to five years.”

A full tank of hydrogen
Feb. 24, 2011

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wrote about the day that five fuel cell-powered cars from major manufacturers visited the Transportation Department.

The cars came from General Motors, Honda, Kia, Mercedes and Toyota. "Fuel-cell vehicles are zero-emissions vehicles that run on electricity from hydrogen and oxygen," LaHood writes. "And they represent an exciting new automotive technology that promises to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and lower our greenhouse gas emissions."

He didn't mention the reason for the visit but used the opportunity to tout the technological advancement the cars represent. However, widespread adoption of the technology is hampered by the same obstacle that conventional cars had to overcome: availability of fuel.

DOT is helping address that through special programs, he said. For example, the department is helping the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District in California build a refueling station for a fleet of 12 — so far — fuel cell-powered buses. The station will also allow members of the public to fuel hydrogen-powered cars.

"So when this technology hits the market, we're talking about a zero-emissions car powered by a fuel created with zero emissions," he writes. "That's American innovation at work for all of us."

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Shutterstock image: looking for code.

    How DOD embraced bug bounties -- and how your agency can, too

    Hack the Pentagon proved to Defense Department officials that outside hackers can be assets, not adversaries.

  • Shutterstock image: cyber defense.

    Why PPD-41 is evolutionary, not revolutionary

    Government cybersecurity officials say the presidential policy directive codifies cyber incident response protocols but doesn't radically change what's been in practice in recent years.

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group