Letters to the Editor

Thin reed to lean a system on

I was disturbed by 'Debriefing', about the FBI's Rapid Start system. Here's an application that's been around more than half a decade, apparently in its third iteration, and, judging from the article, still using a Microsoft Access database.

I may be mistaken, but I'd expect an application of this critical importance'one which must be available to many different agencies using many disparate systems'would be using a more robust database management system such as [one from] Oracle Corp. The security and multiuser aspects alone would seem to be sufficient to warrant this.

Allen Owen

Fleet analyst

Gwinnett County

Lawrenceville, Ga.

Water cooler talk is more than chit-chat, and there's no spam

Robert Gellman's column, 'Banning e-mail'it's not so crazy', raised some interesting points. First, the use of e-mail is becoming so pervasive that it is beginning to replace normal face-to-face conversation. Second, the convenience of e-mail can be offset by the impersonal nature of the medium and the inability to spur instantaneous side conversations.

It's this impersonal quality of e-mail that may inhibit productivity and creativity within the workplace. The concept of capturing and managing knowledge in today's business environment is receiving increased attention. One aspect of this concept is sharing tacit knowledge'the knowledge that individuals possess internally'and generating innovative ideas.

Face-to-face communication is a more effective way for employees to share this knowledge. Managers need to encourage employee collaboration. Perhaps one method is banning internal e-mail on designated days.

More importantly, managers should not view informal group conversations on various topics throughout the day as unproductive work. They are breeding grounds for collective knowledge. These 'water cooler' sessions are essential to innovation. Not only do they share workers' business successes, failures, and experiences, but they also spur ideas. More organizations need to realize this concept and institute a cultural change to promote face-to-face collaboration.

Christopher Blumberg

Business analyst

Army Materiel Command

Alexandria, Va.

NCS has a distinct role

Thank you for your online article, 'DISA at halfway point in rolling out wireless priority system'[www.gcn.com/vol1_no1/dod/20426-1.html]. This is a very important program to national security and emergency preparedness responders.

Just a couple of clarifications, however. Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege serves two roles. He is not only the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, he is also the manager of the National Communications System. The NCS is not a subordinate organization of DISA. The secretary of Defense serves as the NCS executive agent, but the NCS also serves the White House through the Executive Office of the President, and has dealings with 22 federal department members, the National Security Council, Office of Management and Budget, and Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Finally, the Government Emergency Telecommunication Service traces its beginnings to 1984. The NCS as an organization will celebrate its 40th anniversary next summer. Additional information on NCS programs can be found at www.ncs.gov.

Steve Barrett

External Affairs program manager

National Communications System



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