Editorial Cartoon

ApproveIt'it's interoperable

In your article, 'Digital-signature app lets DOD users work their way up to PKI' [GCN, Aug. 27, Page 9], about electronic signature and approval management software by White Sands Missile Range and the Army Medical Command, Barry West of the General Services Administration expresses his views on interoperability and scalability of this type of application used in government.

We share his views. However, his comments are presented apart from critical facts regarding our ApproveIt Desktop software and its interoperability and scalability with public-key infrastructure systems. Taken together, that could lead to a misunderstanding of the product.

As West correctly states in the article, ApproveIt Desktop does not replace a PKI. By the same token, PKI is not a replacement for an application such as ApproveIt, which provides software necessary for electronically signing any format of electronic document with whatever security infrastructure is in place.

A PKI simply issues and manages the certificates used by an application such as ApproveIt. If the PKI is not yet present, ApproveIt provides an X.509v3 digital certificate for each user until a PKI is deployed and then switches over to the PKI certificates. This flexibility allows ApproveIt to be used in both small office applications as well as enterprise applications.

West also expresses concern over future interoperability. ApproveIt has already been tested to be interoperable with Defense Department standards as well as commercial PKI systems. While under consideration for the Army Medical Command, ApproveIt was presented to the Army's director of information systems for command, control, communications and computers, and to the deputy director of DOD's PKI program management office. It was subsequently defined as a PKI-enabled application and suitable for installation on Army desktop computers.


Vice president, strategic planning

Silanis Technology Inc.

St. Laurent, Quebec

To retain 335s, reclassify us

First off, I love my job and the people I work with. I accepted this job somewhat knowing what I'm going to address now. I'm a workgroup manager in the Air Force as an air reserve technician, and my classification is GS-335, computer assistant.

We workgroup managers work extensively with GS-334 computer specialists and GS-2210 IT specialists, mostly doing the same tasks.

Our workgroup manager positions are fairly new, filled within the last year.

Here are some excerpts from my Civilian Performance Plan:

  • Administers information systems

  • Installs and maintains hardware and acts as the equipment custodian for information technology assets

  • Installs, upgrades and maintains software

  • Provides guidance to users on procedures when requesting hardware and software along with analyzing the needs relative to the mission

  • Researches and purchases IT assets

  • Evaluates operability of security plans and procedures

  • Provides training and assistance to customers, to include new computer installations and setting up system and user profiles

  • Creates and maintains Web pages.

    It appears to me a portion of the work force is being neglected. All the articles I've seen about recruiting and training concentrate on the 334s and the newly classified 2210s. Both apply to our civilian positions. Am I completely wrong, or are we as 335s not competent enough to be considered for reclassification?

    When 335s pursue other jobs in the government computer world, we get rejected because we're classified as assistants.

    The usual reason given is we have a lack of specialized experience, which is equivalent to not holding a previous classification of 334.

    That's ironic, because the government realizes there's a problem within the work force and has difficulty hiring and retaining qualified people in these positions.

    I recently learned that workgroup managers are going to be receiving training toward various technical certifications. So either we're trained computer techs making vital contributions, or we're just assistants. I can see it now, some decision-maker leaning back in his chair proposing this certification program, saying, 'I just can't figure out why we can't retain our computer people.'

    Let's address the real issue: reclassification.


    349 Logistics Group

    Travis Air Force Base, Calif.


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