BREAKING NEWS

The House this month unanimously passed a bill to give some businesses and
organizations the option of submitting data electronically to the government.


The Paperwork Elimination Act, HR 439, would let small businesses, nonprofit
organizations, educational institutions and others required to communicate regularly with
the federal government send information via computer.


Agencies would be required to provide this option “where appropriate,” the
bill notes. The House passed a similar bill last Congress, but the Senate failed to act on
the measure.


The Federal Technology Service has set up several ways to help agencies select
telephone and networking service under the eight-year, $5 billion FTS 2001 contracts,
awarded in the past two months to Sprint Corp. and MCI WorldCom Inc.


So far, the Treasury Department and the Federal Election Commission have selected
Sprint, and the Interior Department has chosen MCI WorldCom. Most agencies are still using
the two-year FTS 2000 extension contracts with incumbent vendors Sprint and AT&T Corp.


The Federal Technology Service is offering the Agency Service Election Tool, which lets
agencies estimate FTS 2001 costs based on two-year traffic volume forecasts. The General
Services Administration agency also opened a Transition Coordination Center in its Vienna,
Va., offices and a second center in downtown Washington to help agencies move from one
contract to another.


For transition information, contact the Vienna office at 877-387-2001. For more
information about the forecast tool, call Dave Foley at 703-760-7714.


With agencies geting more comfortable outsourcing PC operations and with governmentwide
acquisition contracts on the rise, seat management projects can expect an annual growth
rate of 7 percent, according to Input.


Year 2000 fixes have given contractors “a foot in the door” that they
otherwise would not have enjoyed, said Brian Haney, senior analyst for the Vienna, Va.,
consulting group’s electronic government program. The trend has made PC outsourcing
one of the fastest-growing segments in the federal information technology market, he said.


Agencies outsourced IT work to the tune of $2.3 billion in fiscal 1998, and the figure
will likely rise to $3.2 billion in fiscal 2003, Input predicted.


Procurement reform has made it “easier to put things in the hands of
contractors,” and downsizing has reduced the number of contracting officers, Haney
said.


The National Institute of Standards and Technology has certified the IBM S/390
cryptographic coprocessor at Level 4, the highest commercial security level under Federal
Information Processing Standard 140-1.


The coprocessor supports the Data Encryption Standard, Triple DES, key management and
digital signatures. Last year, NIST also certified the IBM 4758 PCI cryptographic
coprocessor card for non-IBM and IBM computers.


The latest Level 4 certification covers all S/390 cryptographic coprocessors shipped
since 1997 in IBM Parallel Enterprise G3, G4 and G5 servers, company officials said. The
OS/390 operating system’s Integrated Cryptographic Service Facility has an
application programming interface for the cryptographic coprocessor hardware.


Linux users read the fine print in Microsoft Corp.’s end-user license agreements
and decided to ask for refunds for the unused Windows 9x operating systems preloaded on
their computers.


The Windows license agreement states that a system buyer who chooses not to use the
preloaded OS is eligible for a refund from the system seller. The language applies not
only to Linux users but also to users of Windows NT, BeOS, NetWare and other OSes. But
some resellers and computer makers have refused to grant refunds because that would reveal
the prices they negotiated with Microsoft.


The Microsoft Office suite’s end-user license includes the same language. The
Internet Explorer agreement tells users not to install the free browser if they do not
want it; they would be eligible for refunds only if they had been charged for it.


Linux users and others staged a rally at Microsoft’s offices in Foster City,
Calif., last week to protest having to pay for preloaded Windows. They said they have no
way to find out the size of the refund they should seek from computer makers and
resellers.


More information about the refund drive appears on the Web at http://www.linuxmall.com/refund/.


Uncle Sam is tracking down how the public spends its money online. The Commerce
Department will report electronic commerce sales as a separate retail sector of the
economy. The department now includes online shopping figures with catalog sales.


Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration will make available online
shopping data for 1998 and 1999 in mid-2000. Consumers last year spent about $9 billion on
the Internet, with online sales expected to generate $30 billion by 2000, Daley said.


The Commerce bureau does not use the Internet or software tools to collect retail
shopping figures. Online retailers mail in their sales figures, said Jane Callen, the
bureau’s economics information officer.


The Chief Information Officers Council has named five members to leadership posts.


In a meeting last month, the council named State Department CIO Fernando Burbano and
Energy Department CIO John Gilligan as co-chairmen of the Security Committee.


The council also named Interior Department CIO Daryl W. White as co-chairman of the
Capital Planning and Information Technology Investment Committee. He is teamed with
Shereen G. Remez, the General Services Administration CIO.


NASA CIO Lee Holcomb is the new co-chairman of the Interoperability Committee. He will
work with Defense Department deputy CIO Marvin Langston.


Users who received an executable file called happy99.exe in their holiday e-mail
messages saw a cute fireworks display and a “Happy New Year” message. They are
not too happy now, though. Their computers have worms.


Happy99 is a nondestructive worm, not a computer virus. It perpetuates itself by
attaching to all e-mails and Internet posts from infected systems.


To exterminate it, users must update their antivirus software. Or users can can delete
four files—happy99.exe, ska.exe, ska.dll and wsock32.dll—from the Microsoft
Windows System directory and rename wsock32.ska to wsock32.dll.


For more details about the Happy99 worm and other infections, go to
http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/ and http://vil.mcafee.com.


Jason Byrne, Frank Tiboni, Christopher J. Dorobek and Michael Cheek


inside gcn

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