• No wires. Some state police officers at Boston's Logan International Airport are using wireless handheld PCs to conduct background checks of suspicious persons and vehicles.

    State troopers have been testing 10 BlackBerry devices from Research in Motion Ltd. of Waterloo, Ontario, said Barbara Platt, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs the airport. The devices are equipped with the PocketBlue application from Aether Systems Inc. of Owings Mills, Md.

    PocketBlue taps into the FBI's National Crime Information Center to search for outstanding warrants on suspects or to check license plate numbers, Platt said. The application keeps track of recent queries, so troopers don't have to run multiple checks on people.

    Before the pilot, officers patrolling Logan's five terminals had to call in queries to a dispatcher via radio, Platt said.

  • Rookie outsourcing. Pennsylvania awarded a five-and-a-half-year outsourcing contract valued at $100 million for Medicaid and other health care claims and payment processing to Electronic Data Systems Corp.

    Under the contract, EDS will use its InterChange Medicaid Management Information System to process claims and payments, including those to 60,000 providers of home and community health care services for more than 19,000 elderly or disabled state residents. In all, state and federal Medicaid funds give health coverage to 1.4 million Pennsylvania residents.

    The award to EDS is 'the biggest change in our provider payment technical and business solution in 23 years,' said Peg Dierkers, deputy secretary in the Public Welfare Department's Office of Medical Assistance Programs.

  • Honors. California has the most functional state Web portal, according to a study by professors at Indiana University. Rounding out the top 5 were North Dakota, Maine, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. They were cited for their capability for customization by users, openness of information, usability and transparency.

  • Opportunity. The federal Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services funds programs to provide assistive devices and conduct research that benefits disabled persons. See

    'Patricia Daukantas, Trudy Walsh, Matt McLaughlin and Susan M. Menke
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