BREAKING NEWS

Federal records officers from 45 agencies have formed an interagency group to try to
influence government information management practices, including electronic records
management.


The Federal Information and Records Managers Council plans to make its suggestions on
information management to Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, and
the Office of Management and Budget.


FIRM officials said the new panel will provide a unified voice for records managers and
will work with federal archivists, librarians, program staff, technical staff, the
information industry, professional associations and other information management
professionals.


FIRM is the result of a merger of three groups: the Small Agency Council Records
Officers Committee, the Electronic Records Management Work Group and the Automated Records
Management Interagency Working Group.


The Veterans Affairs Department is lagging on date code testing, according to the
General Accounting Office.


The Veterans Benefits Administration and the Veterans Health Administration have not
completed year 2000 systems acceptance testing of their mission-critical systems, said
Joel C. Willemssen, director of civil agencies information systems in GAO’s
Accounting and Information Management Division.


VBA has completed tests for three of its six mission-critical systems: insurance, loan
guaranty, and vocational rehabilitation and counseling. The agency last month began
testing the compensation and pension systems, and most of its education system, Willemssen
last month told the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.


VHA had to delay testing its Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology
Architecture, and Veterans Health Administration Corporate Systems because it did not have
a 2000 test environment.


The OS/390 Processor Resource Systems Manager (PR/SM) for the IBM Generation 5
processor has received E4 certification based on the European Union’s Information
Technology Security Evaluation Criteria.


The PR/SM certification, together with Level 4 certification of the S/390 cryptographic
processor under Federal Information Processing Standard 140-1, validates the
company’s S/390 Parallel Enterprise Server as a secure platform for server
consolidation, IBM Corp. officials said.


The PR/SM partitions the OS/390 operating system area, running separate workloads in
secure logical partitions. PR/SM prevents data from flowing among logical processor
partitions so that information at different security classifications is kept apart,
officials said.


The State Department last month awarded a four-year task order worth up to $9 million
to Computer Sciences Corp. to develop a refugee admissions system.


CSC will work with State’s Population, Refugees and Migration Bureau to develop
the Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System. The department wants to increase
efficiency of refugee entry processing, said Michael W. Laphen, CSC civil group president.


The Falls Church, Va., division of CSC will build WRAPS to run under Microsoft Windows
NT in a client-server environment. The application will tap a relational database
management system and provide users with Web-style access. The system will operate in a
distributed but secure environment, Laphen said. 


The high-speed Abilene backbone operated by the University Corp. for Advanced Internet
Development is connecting to European research networks through access points in New York
and Chicago.


Abilene, a primary component of the Internet 2, is linking to SURFnet, the Netherlands
national research and education network, and NORDUnet, a network run by the governments of
Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. The University of Chicago operates the Star
Tap high-performance connection point in Chicago for the National Science Foundation.
Transatlantic connections for the New York peering point are through Teleglobe Inc. of
Montreal.


Abilene went into operation earlier this year [GCN, Feb. 22, Page 8]. With the government’s very-high-performance Backbone Network
Service, it fosters development of high-end networking hardware, software and
applications.


A single-user license for Informix Dynamic Server for Linux will sell for $99 until
Aug. 7, under a deal worked out between database vendor Informix Corp. of Menlo Park,
Calif., and Linux distributor Red Hat Software Inc. of Research Triangle Park, N.C. The
two companies are considering other co-branded products.


Informix Dynamic Server is a multithreaded relational database management system
developed to run under Unix and Microsoft Windows NT on symmetric multiprocessing and
massively parallel servers or server clusters. The $99 downloadable Linux suite requires
30M of storage and does not include certain features of other versions, such as the
Netscape FastTrack Web server. It works instead with the freeware Apache Web server.
E-mail support is free for 30 days.


Informix officials said they have distributed more than 270,000 copies of the database
engine for Linux. More information appears on the Web at www.informix.com and
www.redhat.com.


The Federal Aviation Administration plans this summer to release a revised schedule and
new program cost figures for its long-delayed $1 billion radar upgrade project.


FAA officials said the revised plan will focus on developing a fully operational
Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System as soon as possible while simultaneously
meeting short-term requirements for controller displays at a small number of FAA
facilities.


FAA will roll out the Early Display Configuration of STARS at the Syracuse, N.Y., and
El Paso, Texas, Terminal Radar Approach Control facilities late this year and early next
year.


FAA plans to use STARS to replace computer systems and controller workstations at 172
FAA radar centers and 199 Defense Department facilities. The system will provide air
traffic radar data within about a 50-mile radius of an airport.


The Magstar 3590E tape subsystem will store up to 10G at uncompressed data rates of 14
megabytes/sec, said IBM Corp., which expects to ship the new subsystem May 14.


IBM on-site service technicians can upgrade existing Magstar 3590B drives to the
higher-capacity 3590E cartridge drive, IBM officials said.


The company has not released a price for the 3590E tape drive, but it likely will be
comparable to that of the $43,500 Magstar 3590B1A model. Data cartridges will cost about
$35. All the 3590 subsystems run under IBM AIX, SunSoft Solaris, Hewlett-Packard HP-UX and
Microsoft Windows NT.


Contact IBM’s federal information call center at 800-333-6705.


FAA continues to test the STARS prototype at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The agency
expects to finish the systems development by next April.


Several government agencies have beta-tested the Magstar 3590E, IBM product marketing
manager George Mower said. Government sales represent about 20 percent of Magstar 3590
revenues.


—Christopher J. Dorobek, Frank Tiboni, Florence Olsen,William Jackson and
  Susan M. Menke



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