• Hearts and flowers. Soldiers overseas received electronic hugs and kisses on Valentine's Day.

    A database run by Operation Dear Abby and the Navy's LifeLines services network logged more than 400,000 messages of support and encouragement to service members protecting American interests abroad, according to a news release from the Defense Department.

    Messages were sent to service members worldwide from the LifeLines Web site, at The e-mail messages were a Web alternative to bulk postal mail deliveries, which were suspended Oct. 30 due to security concerns.

    To receive a message, service members logged on to the site and chose messages based on their branch of service and home state. Users sending a message were allowed include a return e-mail address.

    The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command gave technical support to the LifeLines network. John Maguire, an information architect with SPAWAR, designed and built the system. The developers created the site using Microsoft Active Server Pages and HTML. Security protocols are built in because the address uses the .mil domain.

    Operation Dear Abby was founded by newspaper advice columnist Abigail Van Buren and has delivered mail to service members overseas during holidays for more than 17 years. The AnyServiceMember mail program began during Operation Desert Storm in 1990 and grew during operations in Bosnia in the mid-1990s.

  • Comm award. The Navy has awarded a $28.6 million contract to Signal Corp. to install, maintain and test satellite communications for Navy ships and shore installations.

    The work will be performed primarily in Charleston, S.C.; Tidewater, Va.; and Dahlgren, Va.

  • Buying mandate. Defense has proposed a new procurement rule that would require its agencies to look first to DOD's enterprise software agreements when buying commercial software and maintenance services. The blanket purchasing agreements offer DOD agencies discounted prices for large software buys.

    In 1998, the department began the Enterprise Software Initiative, a joint program aimed at reducing software acquisition and management costs.
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