Letters to the editor

GSA's auction site needs a lot

It does not surprise me that the General Services Administration site has earned only $17.7 million in its first year, given the problems I have experienced trying to use the site ['GSA auction site earns $17.7 million in first year,' GCN, April 1, Page 49]. I appreciate GSA trying to use technology to get a better return for taxpayers, but in this attempt they are ripping off those taxpayers.

I was disappointed in the way the items are put up for sale. Unlike some live auctions or eBay.com and other Web auction sites, the GSA site auctions most items in large lots. That virtually eliminates an individual or a small business as a successful bidder.

Additionally, with the poor descriptions and lousy or missing pictures, sometimes you are not sure what is in a particular lot or what condition the items are in.
The solution would be to go and view the items in the lot. But there are no specified viewing dates and times.

I have also observed inflated initial prices for some items. Imagine a few low-end 486 or 386 computers with starting prices of $50! It's funny that you quoted sales director Victor Arnold-Bik as saying that bidders know the value of the property, because the GSA staff members putting the items and lots up for sale certainly do not.

When I e-mailed the GSA auctions site about this issue, the agency's response could be summed up with the statement, 'Then don't bid on it.'

Try finding the items you want. Some are put into the wrong categories. If you do find an intriguing item at a reasonable starting price, you might want to add it to your Favorites basket. Well, try pulling up your Favorites to see the lots you added. They do not show up.

Oh, and you'd better be using the favored Microsoft browser, because GSA's site design does not favor Netscape Navigator or other browsers.

Overall, GSA is trying its best to bring back a better return for taxpayers, but it has a ways to go to give customers the service and quality they deserve.

Timothy 'Irish' O'Brien
IT manager

Thomas Power Library

Omaha, Neb.

Keep an eye on computer use

I want to thank GCN for giving attention to important issues in 'On the rise: monitoring employees' Web habits' [GCN, April 15, Page 1].

It is well known that when you enter a password on a server, access a Web site or perform almost any activity on a computer, you become a line in someone's log.

The idea that a worker should have privacy when using government equipment paid for by taxpayers is ludicrous.

Do taxpayers care if civil servants and, yes, contractors at government sites spend tax dollars surfing the Net? Do they care if civil servants are creating entries in the access logs of pornographic Web sites?

Even if the government does not have logs, the porn sites could and do publish lists of government proxy servers that access their sites.

Does the public care if civil servants enter chat rooms instead of working for the good of citizens? Taxpayers care, but I know for a fact that many hard-working civil servants care more than anyone else.

When government workers are trying to provide a service and are slowed or even stopped from providing that service by a bandwidth-hungry MP3 download or streaming video, they care and they complain'loudly.

Let's allow public servants freedom from the few who hog their shared resources and give a bad name to the public service they work so hard to provide.

Paul Marino

Network administrator

AT&T Government Markets

Vienna, Va.

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