• Costly allegations. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board violated state procurement regulations and incurred $408,000 in cost overruns as it issued $1.5 million in sole-source contracts for its new Warehouse Management System, state auditors charged.

    Auditor general Robert P. Casey Jr. said the board, which runs the state's retail liquor stores, violated competitive bidding requirements when it awarded to Logistics Consulting Inc. of York, Pa., three contracts between 1997 and 2000.

    According to the report, liquor board managers admitted that the warehouse system hadn't been tested properly, couldn't locate products for storage or shipping, had other bugs, and hadn't been reviewed by outside IT professionals. Board spokeswoman Donna M. Pinkham said, 'The board's position is that every decision they have made with regard to the contract was appropriate.'

  • Vox populi. Utah's Transportation Department last month launched the first voice-activated 511 traveler information network.

    The system uses Voice Advantage software from Tellme Networks Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., to convert HTML Web pages into Voice Extensible Markup Language, making Web site information accessible by voice commands.

    Utah's DOT has a Web site with continuously updated traffic information, at Tellme Networks spokeswoman Megan Dyer said when a caller phones 511 and says 'traffic,' the call is converted into VoiceXML and transmitted to the Commuterlink site, which sends the traffic information back in an audio file.

    For the 2002 Winter Olympic Games next month, 511 callers will be able to request event schedules, driving directions, news headlines and tips for avoiding traffic jams, Tellme officials said.

  • Opportunity. The Federal Commons portal, at, shows federal grants in broad categories, listed by agency.

    Also see, and the Federal Customer Center, at, for live links to joint federal-state sites and services.

    'Wilson P. Dizard III, Trudy Walsh and Susan M. Menke
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