Letters to the Editor

Cohen didn't do it alone

I enjoyed reading the articles about your annual award recipients.

One of the citations caught my attention: 'Cohen changed the course of federal IT.' I would like to provide information I believe is needed and was not included in the article on the Clinger-Cohen Act.

When he was the Republican senator from Maine, William S. Cohen was the main proponent for the bill and getting it enacted. But too often the real architects and visionaries are not recognized. A reference was made to Paul Brubaker, who'as well as Mark Forman and John Koskinen'worked for the Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Work Force and the District of Columbia at that time in 1996. But the original architect for the legislation was Bill Greenwalt. He worked with Brubaker on this full time.

Bill still works on the Hill and was the primary author of the 1994 report GCN mentioned, Computer Chaos: Billions Wasted Buying Federal Computer Systems.

Another person instrumental in navigating the political waters and crafting the legislation was Kim Corthell, who was asked to head up the subcommittee staff in 1996. In my opinion, without these two individuals, the Clinger-Cohen Act would not exist.

A third person, Chris Condon from command, control and communications in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, was a legislative fellow and also provided key input in drafting the legislation.

With such acclaim being given to the Clinger-Cohen Act and Cohen making the GCN Hall of Fame, you should also recognize Corthell, Greenwalt and Condon for their invaluable contributions to getting this monumental federal IT legislation drafted, refined and enacted. They worked many extra hours, sacrificing nights and weekends for months. Their dedication made this idea a reality.

How do I know? I served as a Brookings Institution congressional fellow on the subcommittee in 1996.

Marty Grenn


Naval Audit Service


Don't overlook OS X

I'm surprised at GCN's lack of coverage of Apple OS X.

Apple Computer Corp.'s new operating system, with its robust Unix core, innovative user interface, 128-bit file encryption, native support for developing Portable Document Format documents, and vast amounts of engineering and scientific applications deserves an article or two.

When you compare Apple G5 workstations to their Sun Microsystems Inc., IBM Corp. or Hewlett-Packard Co. peers, you can't beat cost versus performance. The G5 weighs in between $1,799 and $3,000, and it's more capable than competitors costing up to $50,000.

The same can be said about Apple's enterprise hardware and software. They include rack-optimized servers between $2,799 and $8,000 that have proved to work on par with other servers costing 10 times as much.

OS X uses the same compiler as Linux, supports most of the same applications and integrates a free X Window server. Did I mention that Microsoft Office X for Apple OS X has better features than Office XP for Windows, and that you can also run OpenOffice on Apple OS X through X Window?

As a Defense Department contractor and former civil servant, I know for a fact that the cost to purchase and support Microsoft Windows products is much higher than those of alternative OSes with the same or better features.

What was the cost of government productivity loss from the recent rash of viruses and worms that hit Windows platforms?

Rob Potts

Software engineer

Advanced Information Engineering Services Inc.

Arlington, Va.

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