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FCW Insider: Catching up... and Fed 100 thanks

First off, a big thank you to everybody who submitted nominations for the Fed 100 awards. We received literally hundreds of nominations -- not a record number, but I didn't expect a record number. Given that we are heading into the final year of the Bush administration, I'm thrilled that we got as many as we did. I know it takes work to get these done and, speaking personally, I appreciate the work. I'm a big believer in this program. It offers a real opportunity to recognize the good work done by people in this community. That being said, my life is a bit hectic for the next few weeks. So, again, thanks.

A few round-up items before I get back to Fed 100 stuff... and a bunch of business stuff out there today...

* Unisys federal on the market?
This item from the Philadelphia Inquirer

Investor urges Unisys spin-off [PI, 1.9.2008]
Sell the U.S. government business to triple value, says the 3d-largest shareholder.

Unisys Corp.'s third-biggest shareholder is demanding that the Blue Bell computer-services firm sell or spin off its profitable U.S. government business, saying such a move could triple the stock price.

MMI Investments L.P., of New York, which owns 9.9 percent of Unisys' outstanding shares, asked the board in a letter to break up the company and expressed "tremendous frustration with the seemingly continuous stream of management, operational and financial missteps" at Unisys.

MMI, owned by New York hedge fund Millbrook Capital Management Inc., said in a regulatory filing yesterday that the company's "ruinous stock-price performance" had eroded investors' faith in management's turnaround plan.

MMI, which owns 34.8 million of the company's shares, said a spin-off would "unlock the value" of the U.S. government business, which is being dragged down by the company's weak technology-and-hardware business.

The separation of the U.S. government business, with about $1.5 billion in annual revenue, could result in a stock price of about $8 to $12, assuming the business trades in line with its peers, the shareholder said.

MMI urged the board to hire an independent investment bank to review strategic alternatives, with a focus on divesting the U.S. government-services business through a sale, tax-free spin-off, or initial public offering.

"In our view, the best alternative would be an initial public offering of 19 percent of the shares of a subsidiary of Unisys comprising all the U.S. government-services business," said a letter from Clay Lifflander, president of Millbrook.

The shareholder demanded a "meaningful response" by Jan. 23 or said it would consider taking action at the forthcoming annual shareholders meeting....

* IBM changes
I had to hint about a whole series of changes going on at IBM.

Last Friday, Washington Technology confirmed that "Anne Altman, formerly vice president and managing director of IBM’s U.S. Federal division, has been named general manager of IBM’s mainframe platform technology business. Her new role is part of a yearlong general transformation to make IBM’s Systems and Technology Group more client-focused. It’s the largest such realignment in 15 years, said Lia Davis, an IBM spokeswoman."

IBM named Altman's replacement today -- Todd S. Ramsey. Washington Technology has the story:

Ramsey has more than 30 years of experience helping government clients use information technology to enhance services, improve efficiency and effectiveness of operations, and promote economic development.

Most recently Ramsey led the company’s Global Government and Education organization, which under his leadership grew significantly, IBM said. 

One interesting wrinkle: Altman was the industry chairwoman of ACT/IAC's ELC conference. Not sure if that will change her role with ELC.

* The Fed and transparency

Recently, I got this WSJ.com news alert:

Federal Reserve policy makers recognized at last month's meeting that their reduction in a key lending rate might not be the last amid continued problems in credit and housing markets that have crept into consumer spending. Officials "agreed on the need to remain exceptionally alert to economic and financial developments and their effects on the outlook, and members would be prepared to adjust the stance of monetary policy if prospects for economic growth or inflation were to worsen," according to the minutes of the Dec. 11 Federal Open Market Committee meeting. The FOMC voted 9-1 to lower the federal funds rate by a quarter point to 4.25%, with Boston Federal Reserve Bank President Eric Rosengren dissenting in favor of a half-point cut.

How does the Fed get away with such lack of transparency? They post their minutes weeks after their meetings and then hand out little pieces of information.

* Doan makes a year-end list

The SF Chron posted a Washington Post story highlighting Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics' inaugural list of the year's top 10 ethics scandals. Making the list: Lurita Doan.

Here is the Chron/WP wording:

Lurita Doan remains chief of GSA despite alleged illegal conduct: Lurita Alexis Doan denies allegations that she gave a contract to a longtime friend and was involved in illegal Republican politicking in the General Services Administration.

Not to rehash a very tired issue, but... Perhaps I'm nitpicking, but there was no allegation that she tried to give a contract to a friend. She has acknowledged that she tried to give a contract to a friend. I certainly am no Doan apologist nor do I want to revisit old, tired issues, but... Doan isn't perfect, but this just wasn't malicious. Remember: It was a $20,000 contract.

* 2007 tech highlights from the SJMN

These are consumer focused, but... given the world we live in these days, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on the consumer market.
This year will go down as an exciting one for technology. Here are 10 things that caught my attention in 2007:

By Dean Takahashi
Mercury News

Apple iPhone
: It was missing a few features but no other product generated as much hype and attention. Apple tossed out the design parameters for cell phones and came up with a device based on what you wished cell phones would be. The phone has a 3.5-inch display, a touch screen that makes it easier to use your fingers to browse Web pages, an instant link to YouTube's top videos and an easy way to call contacts or create group calls. The price started out high at $600 but now seems like a bargain at $400. Oh, and it doubles as an iPod, too. It is shaking up the industry and inspiring numerous copycats. You can expect more converged devices, competition from Google, and open networks that accommodate innovative devices such as the iPhone.


Regular readers will know that I love my iPhone.

One other item worth noting:

7. Amazon Kindle: For a first try, this electronic book reader is a very interesting product that tells us where we will be a few years from now. The reader costs $400, which means Gutenberg and paper still have the advantage over Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos. But you can download your daily newspaper onto it over a wireless cell phone data connection and store 200 books on it. The display quality is as good as the Sony Reader 505 ($300), but the Sony model requires you to download books to a computer and then transfer them to the device.

I bought a Kindle last year. I'll do my review... well, I hope soon. Suffice it to say, I love it.

I'm back to Fed 100.

Posted by Christopher J. Dorobek on Jan 09, 2008 at 12:17 PM


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