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United States

Federal Technology Czar Proposed 106

Alien54 writes: "The E-Government Act, which Sens. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) introduced Tuesday, is designed to make it easier for citizens to access federal information and services online. As reported in Internet Week, the bill [S.803]will create a federal chief information officer and allot $225 million annually to improve government services over the Internet. The Bill text has yet to be posted to the web, but should be up in a week or so."
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Federal Technology Czar Proposed

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    . . . since the Drug Czar is working so well at stamping out illegal drug use, that there should be a Technology Czar working on doing the same thing with the use of technology in government :).

    ~~~

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I guess the $225 million is for covering license fees to Microsoft :-) //AC
  • as part of today's plan to take over the world.

    Sorry.

    Yours
    The Brain

    p.s. Pinky says "Narf!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2001 @04:46AM (#248645)
    I can see the result, a set of guidelines for all software purchased, installed, or used by Government agencies, employees, or contractors:

    1. It shall be approved by this agency on a product basis.
    2. If used for classified processing it shall be from an even more restrictive list.
    3. It shall be developed under a set of guidelines approved by this agency.
    4. It shall be developed, tested, installed, and supported by approved vendors.
    5. File formats will be standardized based on industry recommendations including word processing, spreadsheet, multimedia streaming, web page and back end processing, etc.
    6. All O/S software shall meet C2 or common criteria requirements as approved on a case by case basis by the agency.
    7. Risk shall be minimized through the primary use of domestic sources of software.
    8. Software shall be compatible with automatic software updates, subscription updates, network consolidation, software leasing, and other state of the art practices.
    9. Under license, the Government may view the source code if required (e.g., as provided by Microsoft).

    To make the list as short as possible, a subset of vendors will be chosen based on product cost, stability, market share, ease of use, and standardization (i.e., market share).

    This will be in the summary from a 2000 page report on the infotech industry, comparing best practices, software development methodologies, license structures, IP property issues, etc.

    The report will be written with the assistance of industry (read Microsoft) and most of the lawyers who co-authored the DMCA and UCITA. It will strongly support IP protection at the expense of fair use. It will not permit the use of GPL software except on a case by case basis and after a complete security and risk audit (read a 1500 page report and 1 year). It will demonstrate that the TCO of Word is cheaper than that of Open Office, especially since Word was free with the last computer you purchased. It will demonstrate that .NET saves you money and reduces risk as it consolidates all your data on secure servers.

    The bottom line:

    • Primary hardware vendors, in this order: Dell, Compaq, Gateway, IBM.
    • Processor vendors: Intel, AMD
    • O/S vendors: Microsoft
    • Application vendors: Microsoft, Oracle
    • Applications approved: MS Office, MS SQL server, MS IIS, Oracle databases, Microsoft .NET., MS IE (all platforms)

    Alternate product list (with special approval):

    • Hardware: Sun, Apple
    • OS's: Solaris, BSD, OSX
    • Applications: WordPerfect, Lotus Notes

    Banned product list:

    • All GPL'd software
    • Linux
    • Open Office
    • Any GNU product or related product
    • Netscape, Mozilla, Opera, etc.
  • ...have the government return the $225 million to the taxpayers, along with most of the rest of the budget, instead of spending it on crap designed to socially engineer a nanny state and dependent public. At least push most of it down to the state level so I can choose to live in a state where government does only that which it can do well: enforce the laws (in particular, contract law) and provide a judiciary for resolving conflicts between parties.
  • ...you could build one heck of a Google-like site as the portal. Since you are the Feds, I'm sure you see the advantages of setting this network of servers up over a wide geographically dispersed area. And building it using proprietary should be grounds for immediate dismissal. And what's with ``www.firstgov.gov''? A leading candidate for one of the dumbest sites names I've ever heard.

    Oh, and ``Hey TechWeb! Your link's broken! The protocol is ` http ', not ` htto '.'' (OK, I can cut spme slack; I spmetimes hit the wrpng keys, tpp.)



    --

  • ``Because you know, hearing about, or seeing depictions of anything remotely related to violence apparently is the ONE AND ONLY reason kids commit horrible crimes these days...or that's what I gather from listening to Joe Lieberman.''

    Who was it (Dick Cavett?) that made a comment once that went something like: ``We've had comedy on television for decades and it hasn't resulted in an increase in people's sense of humor.'' Is there, indeed, reliable evidence that violence on the tube has lead to recent Columbine-like incidents? Has anyone ever shown conclusively that watching violence on television was why some people brought their personal arsenals to the office and wiped out their former co-workers? Didn't think so.

    OK. That's enough topic drift for today, thank you.



    --

  • ``I can only think of one real Democrat left ... James Traficant ... and no one listens to him because he's so different.''

    Man, he sure is that. I moved out of Ohio when Howard Metzenbaum was a senator from there. No, he's not why I moved (heh heh) but he embarassed me every time he opened his mouth (at least I didn't vote for him). Now, Traficant is the kind of guy you gotta love. Even if he does come off as severely paranoid at times.


    --

  • by RasputinAXP ( 12807 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @03:14AM (#248650) Homepage Journal
    Forwarded by: Joe Lieberman <lieberman@senate.gov>

    MAKE MONEY FAST!

    You're not going to believe this!!

    If I start getting magic Tweetie birds and Neiman-Marcus cookie recipies from my senators and representatives because they got $225 million to start reading their e-mail I'm going to get upset.
    --

  • I thought POSIX was specifically developed to be the government "standard" for computing. Isn't that good enough for you? :)

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • I'm just nervous about having one centralized decision maker. My company did that and now we're stuck with slow Exchange email and Outlook viruses galore. Such is the cost of progress and standardization, I guess.

    On second thought, maybe just havin a centralized bad decision maker was the real problem...

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @04:35AM (#248653) Journal
    The Bill text has yet to be posted to the web, but should be up in a week or so.

    Presumably this is exactly why we need a technology czar. The senators are probably preparing the bill electronically anyway, so why does it take so long to post it?

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • Check this out: We paid NOAA to chart our waters. NOAA gave the data to BSB Electronic Charts, LLP [bsbcharts.com] for nothing. And now to get our data we have to pay juice to Maptech [maptech.com]. This [noaa.gov] is a start to giving us our charts on the OS we choose. But the data (charts) need to be made available for free and the file spec needs to be opened.
  • There is Hugo [mayko.com]. It reads bsb charts. The project could use some help though - hey how's your C these days?
  • /.
    It was bad enough when the "Drug Czar" was an acknowledged nicotine addict and alleged alcohol abuser. Now we're going to make the commissar of the nation's electronic information an appointed official?
    Ooh, like that won't be abused for short-term political goals.
    We should get to elect the poor sucker who gets this job. National elections every four years just like the vice president.
    And y'know, it'd probably be the only fedgov election that'd make me consider voting for Al Gore.
    --Charlie
  • by sharkey ( 16670 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @08:55AM (#248657)
    "Welcome to the Tech Czar's site. You MUST be running at 1024x768 resolution or higher, be using Windows XP, Internet Explorer 6 or later, have Flash 5.0 or later installed, have Java and Javascript enabled, have an IPP printer shared via Personal Web Server, you must accept cookies from any server, your connecting IP must match your MAC address from your XP key validation, as well as the street address on record at your ISP, and you must accept the EULA on the next page to use this site."

    "Click here to continue to EULA. By clicking this link you fully agree to all terms currently included in the EULA on the next page."

    CLICK!

    CLICK!

    "Please enter your Active Directory name and password for the following Object: Lieberman_Carnivore."

    Clickety-click

    CLICK!

    "Pay no attention to the man outside your window. Or the one on your roof. The beeping which will accompany all your phone calls from now on means nothing. Enjoy your documents."

    --
  • And does anyone use it ??

    If there's a Fed CIO, he/she can make policy and require everyone to follow.....

  • After all, I first started playing with Linux (RedHat, version 5.1) while working at the Pentagon.

    I know it was naive, but I look at the potential... not the likely outcome, but the best outcome...

    Color me "Byers". . .

  • Ah. Think harder. They'd also be getting rid of a lot of admins. Especially the M$ ho's, excuse me, MCSE's. . .

    You know. . . the 12-week night-school-and-Transcender specials. . .

  • Actually, Uncle sells them.

    I picked up a couple of P-120's and P-133's several months ago: ~$35/cpu only, or ~120 for CPU/Monitor/keyboard/mouse. All had either 64 or 128MB of RAM, and were circa 1994 vintage.

    Of course, the trick is knowing when and where to buy them, and beating the professional buyers who grab everything in sight. (it's a real feeding frenzy. . .).

    Can't tell you for everywhere, but in the Washington DC area, details are here [gsa.gov].

    Not in the DC area ?? Try here [gsa.gov]

  • Government IT is INCREDIBLY fragmented. Standards ?? What standards ?? It might be a good thing to get Uncle Sugar to standardize on a few things, to get the cost down. (Trust me, I've been there. . .)

    Like, say, a "standard" server. I've seen everything from mega-Sun boxen, to 486's as servers, running everything from Novell 3 and NT 3.5 to RedHat, BSD, and Solaris boxes. . .in some cases, mixes of NT and Unix, with no SAMBA, and zero configuration managment (i.e. Mail is one department, Users a second, Fileservers a third, and all run independentely. . .). We're talking some real nightmare networks, from an admin standpoint. . .

    Now imagine a caveat, from the top down: a standard Federal Webserver (Apache), a standard Federal Mailserver (Sendmail) , on 2-3 standard platforms (say, Solaris, OpenBSD, and [insert your favorite distro here]. Desktops are Mandrake with StarOffice or OpenOffice.

    Yes, Uncle Sam would need a lot of new admins. But imagine the savings in software costs. Consider a central Federal security site: "Here are today's patches for Config X...". Imagine the chagrin of BillGatus of Borg. . .

  • And the federal government didin't even have to show it self an obviously losing business model to get all that venture capital. Wish I could just pull one of these over on VCs.
  • So you're saying that our government should pay someone to write closed source software instead of open?

    I don't get it. Other than for very specialized programs (like launching ICBM's), why should the government be in the business of software development at all? Most of the programs the government uses are available without charge (things like word processors, spreadsheets, email, etc.).

    Even if the government purchases these programs off the shelf (i.e. paying for closed source software development) they still have to have people on staff to install and maintain them.

    In any case, a quarter billion dollars is a lot of friggin money just for software. Even if you argue that the government should be paying for closed source software development, that's too much.

    Again, I feel the money would be better spent training the next generation on engineers and scientists who will contribute to our GNP directly and indirectly.
  • You're right, I don't understand. If it's such a unique application that there isn't already a similar open source application available (which could be cheaply customized), then such a cost justification should be easy to make.

    Either way, you pay. You pay someone to develop it as closed source software (i.e. you buy the package) and every department, agency, whatever who uses it has to pay and pay again. Or you can pay someone to customize an open source application (or in the rare instance, write an application from scratch) and then you make it open source so that any other agency or department can make use of it if they need. It should be easy to see which approach has the greater public benefit.

    Not that government should be about public benefit or anything. I wouldn't want them to start bucking a trend now.

  • I guess I missed something here. Just what was the pressing need to create this position anyway? Are the citizens of this country really requesting that our government meet this "need", or is the government doing this just because they think they can?

    Another thing that steams me, and this fuels the fire, is that our government seems to think that we own, control, and rule the internet. Yeah, right....after all Al Gore invented it so it's ours to do with as we please.

    I suppose it would be too much to ask that the quarter billion be used to fund the education of more engineers and scientists. It seems to me that is a greater need and would actually do more good for our country.

    But then what the hell do I know. In a government of the people, by the people, and for the people I am just one of the people.
  • Perhaps a technology czar would create the expertise in the civil service to bring those services in house, where they can be maintained without the danger of future problems often associated with the extensive use of contracting.

    Eh? You mean like the awesome efficiency of the Postal Service, which just announced they lost over $100 million last year? Or maybe you mean the IRS, known for customer service so poor that citizens had to go begging to Congress for a customer's bill of rights? Thanks, but I'll take the contractors any day. :-D
  • Will this Czar wear a beeper in case a citizen had networking problems with the government database?

    No, no, Al Gore's the guy on call for networking problems. He's Mr. Infrastructure.
  • I filed my taxes online this year. I'm filing for student aid online this year - did you know you could do that? They [ed.gov] do the whole process online, right down to your digital signature. I can renew my Texas driver's license online.

    In fact, I can't think of a single interaction I've had with state or federal governments in the last year that I haven't been able to do entirely online. I'm not quite sure where that $225 million is going, but I don't like it. Instead of making more services accessible, they should give Senators and Representatives e-training classes to make them more aware of current issues and get them to check their friggin' e-mails. Start there, before throwing more money at the problem.
  • by Bob-K ( 29692 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @06:05AM (#248670)
    Okay, I know the commies were against the Czars. But that doesn't mean czars are good. Why is it that in this democracy, we appoint a czar everythime we want to fix something? Geez, if they called him a king, exerybody would be against it. How about a dictator? Strongman? Capo di Tutti?

    What the hell is the difference?
  • Why has this bothered me since the US electorate swallowed a "drug czar" hook, line, and sinker instead of just getting the government out of the tax and spend war on (some) drugs.



    Now, nobody seems bothered by yet-another 'czar,' but didn't the Russians even get rid of their czars (not saying they installed anything different/better, just making a point because this crap still bothers me).
    JMR

  • The US Government's desire to increase its involvement in technology can hardly be considered news. Let's not forget which government practically funded the development of the Internet in the first place.
  • Good News...

    It apparently isn't working for the war on drugs, so I suspect the open source movement will continue right on through like a locomotive without an engineer.

    Yes, GPL junkies will be strung out in the streets, whino's will be hitting you up for some blank cdr and pretty soon your little brother will be spending late nights trying to get his fix by installing the latest distro.

    Once RedHat moves to Columbia (prefered base of operations) we can start seeing some real thrill rides as smugglers attempt to get 1000's of CD's across the border in a mad dash of excitement.

    The United States and participants of the private industry (ie Microsoft) will be spending millions of dollars to stop something that they cannot possibly fathom.

  • Thanks for the links. Check the second link [gsa.gov] again. It's a good example of why the Feds need a IT Czar:
    • GSAAuctions.gov [gsaauctions.gov] - GSA's premier on-line surplus property auction site
    • GSAauctions.gov [gsa.gov] - Purchase surplus Federal Government property here.

    They show the same URL twice but change the capitalization (though in fact the second link go to an entirely different URL than the one listed, of course the only thing on that page is a link to gsaauctions.gov).

  • Actually, no you can't. The problem is that the government can't afford to compete with Nortern Virginia based high tech industry in terms of salary. While the government does offer a pretty good benefits package, the salaries its allowed to offer to recent college grads are a joke. There was a recent effort to boost starting pay for computer specialists, but even after that, the best that a recent grad can get is the high 30's. Of those that start off in the government, probably half leave after 6 months for double the salary.

    The high tech 'down turn' may help a little, or we may be able to pick up some older tech workers that are ready to kick back some and work 40 hour weeks so they can start to raise families, however, these workers still have to pay exhorbitant housing prices to live in the area, and that makes it hard to live off a government salary. At least for a few more years the government will be dependent on contractors.

    One solution that is starting to pay off, is to decentralize the IT function by setting up data and call centers in various location all over the country. This may work, but unfortunately it is being done while we are still dependent on contractors and so many of these new data centers are being run by contractors instead of feds.
  • Giving the government more control - more power is like give a fire more fuel. I would not be surprised if we are in the stone age in five decades due to regulations.
  • by discore ( 80674 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @05:59AM (#248677) Homepage
    I'd much rather see $225 million alloted annually to public schooling.

    That's 7,500 Teachers making $30,000 a year to educate students.
    That's 450,000 $500 computers for kids to learn computers.
    That's 9,000,000 $25 desks for more/better places to sit.
    That's 56,250,000 $4 paperback books for students to read.

    I have a feeling the internet will be fine without a "Federal Technology Czar."
  • This will be at least as effictive as our
    Drug Tzar and cost a lot less in lives and money.

    I have a hard time imagining this headline
    "Missionary family blocked from net access. News at 11." Causing that much uproar.

    Another $250 Million down the frelling toliet.

  • by holzp ( 87423 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @04:23AM (#248679)
    if they do as good a job as the Drug Czar, the Internet will be back in the money in no time!
  • I want that job! I will rule the federal networks with an IRON FIST, ruthlessly CRUSHING all who stand in my way! Mua-ha-ha-ha-ha!

    Er, I hope the guys taking the applications don't read slashdot...

  • To mandate that federal departments justify that using closed-source licensed software is in fact cheaper over a given period (Say, 10 years) than hiring an OSS developer or development team to write a comparable version to be released under GPL.

    Leastwise, that's what I'd do with that position.

  • If the department couldn't justify the expense of the closed source software, they'd have to hire a guy or a team to write a comparable solution, which would then be released under GPL.
  • by shaper ( 88544 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @06:18AM (#248683) Homepage

    No way! Your new Federal Standard will be MS Windows for the OS, MS IIS for the web server, MS SQL Server for the database, MS Visual C++ as the main development language, MS Office for productivity apps, and so on and on and on....

    This is not just your standard anti-MS rant, because I have been-there-done-that with Gov't "standards" efforts, including representing the US Navy on IEEE POSIX committees, only to watch it all go to waste in the last 7 years of Microsoft's ascendancy.

    The movement to an all-Microsoft world in US Gov't IT has been going on for some time now, at least in the Dept. of Defense, all in the name of supposed cost savings from using COTS (Consumer Off-The-Shelf) products. And don't even say that you can buy Linux off the shelf. In the minds of 99% of management types, off-the-shelf means Microsoft, and gov't management is the same as corporate management, only more so in all the bad ways.

    And if there is any significant IT standardization across much of the US Federal Gov't, watch out. The US gov't is the single largest procurer (both dollars and volume) of software in the entire world. Overall US Federal Gov't procurement in products and services makes the largest multi-national corporations' all look like piddling chump change. You're dreaming if you think that any Federal CIO would pick a free or open source product for any significant Federal IT standard.

  • This post scores a rating of 5/5 troll points.

    If I had a nickel for every anarchist who
    I've heard make similar predictions more than five years ago, I wouldn't be sitting here like a lemon looking for a gin. But, I don't, and I am. =)

  • "Rabbi, is there a proper blessing for the Tsar?"

    "A blessing for Tsar? Of course! May God bless and keep the Tsar... Far away from us!

    Fiddler on the Roof

  • California [ca.gov] has already begun this process. All Website portals must have the same look and feel (and before you start complaining, no, they are NOT all on IIS, most are in fact on Solaris). They are passing bills down the street [ca.gov] at the Capitol [ca.gov] to require posting of certain information to the Web (chiefest among them decisions by the Public Utilities Commission [ca.gov], those electricity whores, and enforcement actions against insurance agents by the Department of Insurance [ca.gov]).

    The drive for the digitalised government here in sunny CA is actually kind of working. While it's true that there IS a digital divide, more people have access to the Internet than don't, at least in this state (libraries are required to provide access over government-sponsored pipes), and they don't want to alienate the ones who DO use computers for everything, who are, after all, the rich and famous and BOFH :)

    The U.S. Government will take a lot longer to move online, but it will eventually happen... and those in government jobs (and those who apply during downturns because "the government doesn't shrink") will be forced to sit there and do noth... oh wait, never mind.

    Zaphod B
    When duplication is outlawed, only outlaws will have /bin/cp


    Zaphod B
  • Will millitary and law enforcement information be off-limits to anyone under 18? Because you know, hearing about, or seeing depictions of anything remotely related to violence apparently is the ONE AND ONLY reason kids commit horrible crimes these days...or that's what I gather from listening to Joe Lieberman.

    With his logic, such a system would be another part of the "cultural pollution" he likes to refer to when hinting at future censorship.

    (Hey, "cultural pollution"...where have I heard terms like THOSE before?)
  • GAO audit after audit shows how piss-poor in general government site security is. Now they want to put _more_ information out on the Internet? They should take that money and start by closing the existing security holes and ensuring that new ones don't crop up. All we need is to have more potential for our personal data to be pilfered by 13 year olds.

    -core
  • This group should *hopefully* be better informed about technology and what is and isn't right. It's possible that with this group's help it may be possible to have the DMCA exposed for what it really is, if the right people are placed in it.
    =\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\= \=\=\
  • Main Entry: czar Pronunciation: 'zär, '(t)sär Function: noun Etymology: New Latin czar, from Russian tsar', from Old Russian tsisari, from Gothic kaisar, from Greek or Latin; Greek, from Latin Caesar -- more at CAESAR
    Date: 1555
    1 : EMPEROR; specifically : the ruler of Russia until the 1917 revolution
    2 : one having great power or authority (a banking czar)

    I believe it's being used in the 2nd sence of the word, someone with great power.
    =\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\ =\=\=\=\
  • by BradleyUffner ( 103496 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @04:20AM (#248691) Homepage
    Could you explain how it will "bridge the digital devide between the rich and the poor"?
    =\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\ =\=\=\=\
  • Not to mention everything database is supposed to be Oracle, and the use of COTS means NT on every ship...
  • I'm a contractor in a gummint site.

    Yes, there are many competent people, but the management structure strongly favors the stereotype. A big part of this is pay - they can't possibly keep young'uns when the young'uns see people with decades of experience making maybe 60K. The young'uns just hang around long enough to get something hot on their resume (without necessarily doing much), and their MBA, then off to 130K jobs BS'ing dotcoms, I mean b2b presales, or whatever. So you are left with single parents, the physically infirm and golden handcuffed burnout cases. Another big part of it is the management culture itself, but that is something that could be changed top-down. Although more likely the top would spew platitudes and the rest will be business as usual.

    The other side of this is, they get dependent on contractors (and probably resent the pay differential). So I bitch, moan and whine all the way to the bank in my big BMW.

    All that aside, I think the gummints job should be to tax and spend, including spending for "free" fiber access to every home in the county. Go ahead and laugh and make fun of me, then go read a damn history book about those electrical wires going into your house.
  • In much the same way that I killfile trollers in newsgroups and block spammers in my inbox, I think I'm just going to block Mr. Liebermann. He's lost all my respect in the last week or (the two ounces he had left). Has anyone else noticed that the American "Democratic" Party is looking more and more Socialist every day? In fact, I can only think of one real Democrat left ... James Traficant ... and no one listens to him because he's so different.
  • by YIAAL ( 129110 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @05:36AM (#248695) Homepage
    For hundreds of years the term "Czar" was synonymous with a corrupt autocrat. (Hmm, come to think of it, that makes sense where the Drug Czar is concerned). But why, in a supposedly free country, should we think it's a good deal to create "Czars." And has any federal "Czar" actually accomplished anything?
  • by dharmacat ( 134157 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @04:46AM (#248696)

    Here's the URL for the bill:

    http://cio.gov/egov/s803/050101_press-bill%2520tex t.pdf [cio.gov]

  • I'm not a USian either, but it looks like they mean Senators.
  • In fact, I can't think of a single interaction I've had with state or federal governments in the last year that I haven't been able to do entirely online.

    Having worked PT at this [ezgov.com] e-gov company, I can tell you that there are lots of local, state, and national agencies that do not have electronic services for their transactions. It sounds like you have had a good experience in Texas, but there are a ton of other local and state governments that have nothing in place for online transactions.

    Plus, there are federal agencies exluding the IRS (such as the INS or passport acquisition or renewal) that aren't online, IIRC.
  • Well, I like the idea, but...

    Visions of a Novell evangelist who talks the good talk on the hill occupying this position makes me ill at ease. We (as in "The Open Source Community") could stand to benefit greatly from a knowledgeable person occupying this position, especially with the big software (M$) corps lobbying in Washington.

    The other side of the cookie would present us with a truly political appointee. Anyone who's worked for a "political" rather than "technical" CIO/CTO knows that this is rarely a Good Thing, but hey, it's Washington. They'll do the right thing.

    (maybe they'll appoint John Dvorak, that would be interesting, if nothing else: "Government Mandates that PCs Suck, story at 11"

    -JPJ
  • by Zara2 ( 160595 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @04:04AM (#248700)
    If the IT czar is anything like the drug czar they will appoint a anti-technology luddite who doesnt understand anything at all about the nations IT issues. Any new technology that comes out that didn't come from major licenced IT companies will be illegal by default because it hasn't gone through the rigorous testing programs. Now that it is illegal it can't get testing because you can't do testing on illegal software/hardware. School and college campuses will have open source rehabilitation centers where you can go to and learn why free software isn't good for the country. "Just Say No" policies towards Napster and other file sharing services will be touted by police officers in DDIT (dont do IT) classes taught to kids everywhere. SWAIT teams will be busting down doors useing now standard no knock warrents to check for illegal music codecs on your boxen.

    "Shut up! Be Happy! Your government has taken care of this for you"

  • ... where you can slack off and still live off the fat of others .. I suggest you move there.

    Our (USA / govenment / country ) was not founded by people who expected *someone* to help. This is something we can *choose* to do, either on an indivitual, or group basis.

    Life has always be unfair ... grow up.
  • Man it astounds me how good the government is at wasting money ! $225 million dollars is a LOT of money when it comes to the internet. Putting up websites is dirt cheap (well, at least as compared to other endeavors).


    There's a big difference between putting up web sites and co-ordinating Federal / State / Local government services / access for the internet.


    this comes to about $4.5M / state, chickenfeed

  • Has anyone else noticed that the American "Democratic" Party is looking more and more Socialist every day?

    LOL.

    There are not even close to the current Socialist platform. Perhaps in another ten years... If you don't believe me check this out [broody.org].
  • Man it astounds me how good the government is at wasting money ! $225 million dollars is a LOT of money when it comes to the internet. Putting up websites is dirt cheap (well, at least as compared to other endeavors).

    My suspicion is that this is yet another exciting and politically 'relevant' way for the government to justify itself. You see, if the government can't figure out how to spend the ridiculous amounts of money it collects in taxes, it has a problem. Ergo they create bogus programs noone needs and basically find ways to pork barrel our hard-earned dollars.

    I worked for a startup, and with about one tenth of that money (about 25 million) this company was able to put up a full-featured e-commerce site, hire dozens of people, and stay in operations for two years. I expect that for 225 million dollars, the government ought to be able to completely do away with any and all of it's myriad physical offices and do everything online. However, will that happen? NO! Will you see any kind of change or benefit after the government is done spending your money on useless internet functionality? NO! What you may see, down the line (and especially if we get another Democrat in office), is possible tax hikes. After all, all this great stuff the government is doing for YOU isn't free, right? I mean.. since this $225 million dollars will have changed the face of the internet and life on earth as we know it, you owe it to good 'ole Uncle Sam to fork over even more of your already anemic paycheck for the benefit of humanity!

    A lot of the slashdot readers are still in school and aren't as aware of how bad the tax situation is. However, you guys will soon join the workforce and end up seeing how, after all is said and done, between the bankers and the rapine the government commits on your paychecks, you end up keeping less than half your money. (After you figure in sales tax and interest and all that.)

  • Amen brother! It really amazes me how you and I seem to be the only two people who posted that can see through the bullshit in this. WAKE UP PEOPLE! . You should always question the government's motives.. especially when they plan to spend even more of your hard-earned dollars on useless crap!

    The government is finding more ways to justify its existance. Who the hell needs them to be involved in the Internet? The internet is doing just fine without this stupid $225 million dollar program. Will YOU see any benefit from this? Will ANYBODY (except for the people in the government)?? I doubt it! wake up and smell the bullshit, cause Uncle Sam lays it on thick every time!!

    The military being involved in the internet is one thing (they DID help build the arpanet), but the Legislature should stop thinking of ways to waste money on useless programs. They should just make laws and be humble about it. Who the hell made them the f'ing solver of all the nation's problems which noone knew it had until they came along anyway?

  • Yeah, whatever. It's still government waste. Or do you LIKE paying taxes? Maybe you are still a kid and only mommy and daddy have to worry about that. But one day you will enter the workforce and see how your paycheck gets raped!
  • notice the first letters of each name spell out "GARC"...which is approximately the sound i would make upon seeing that ballot

    --

  • I'd much rather see $225 million alloted annually to public schooling.
    That's 7,500 Teachers making $30,000 a year to educate students.
    That's 450,000 $500 computers for kids to learn computers.
    That's 9,000,000 $25 desks for more/better places to sit.
    That's 56,250,000 $4 paperback books for students to read.

    I have a feeling the internet will be fine without a "Federal Technology Czar."

    They're going to pay this guy/gal $225M?!?! Holy shit I need to go work for the government! They've up'd the pay grades!!!


  • Does this mean we will get to snoop on their e-mails too?

    It's about time the gov't invested a little into actually using the internet, instead of ruling it. At least now we will be able to keep better track of how fast we loose our rights.

  • I don't recall the /. article saying the govornment watching your every move online. It says that they are going to improve their services by making them accessible online. Basically, every Federal service that causes you to drag your butt down to some musty old building and wait till they call your number would now be able to be done online.

    In most cases regarding government actions such as this, I tend to be 75% conspiracy theorist. But this bill doesn't trigger that response. They're just proposing to put someone in charge of the IT departments of all the government agencies so that there is a single point of focus and standardization in this online effort.

    If I were to nominate anybody, I'd nominate the person in charge of making e-filing of our taxes possible. That process worked well for me in the past couple of years.

  • wear a beeper in case a citizen had networking problems with the government database? Imagine the overtime this poor person would rack up...

  • This whole "Czar" (I always thought it was Tsar) thing is a bad idea.. The Soviet Union may be gone, but I don't think even now the Russians look kindly on Czars... We already have enough problems with them because of this missle-defense crap... the last thing we need is for them to think that we're Czarists....

    Blah, fine, it was a bad historian joke, but it had to be said.

  • The Bill text has yet to be posted to the web, but should be up in a week or so.

    Back when I was still an SGA Officer at UAH [uah.edu], I usually kept Senate's stuff updated all the time. But it kept me from doing other things [biggest complaint was that the University wouldn't let me even run basic CGI, so I was forced to build static HTML pages...ugh].

    But if the Feds can't have a group that rushes stuff up on the Web quickly enough, isn't that a sure sign that we need it?


    --
  • >Forwarded by: Joe Lieberman <lieberman@senate.gov>
    >
    >MAKE MONEY FAST!
    >
    >You're not going to believe this!!
    >

    I'd bet the congress critters will be spamming each other to sell their pork-barrel projects

    TAKE MONEY FAST!!!

    And of course they already have a pyramid scheme - they call it Social Security

  • Sens.? Is that the abbreviation for sensei? Nice requirement for a CIO, whouldn't you say?
  • We're talking about connotations, not about dictionary definitions.

    To me, anyway, "czar" connotes the corrupt, autocratic leadership of an inbred ruling house. To me, "czar" suggests Nicholas II. But that's just me.

    hyacinthus.
  • Go ahead and laugh and make fun of me, then go read a damn history book about those electrical wires going into your house.

    I won't make fun of you. You're talking Rural Electrification, I assume?

  • In theory, we can turn the administration in charge of the IRS out of office. (Notice the bloodbath at the IRS a year or so ago?) We don't have anywhere near as direct a chain accountability with contractors.

    While I understand your concerns about an inept civil service, we as citizenry don't have to take it as a given--we can demand a competent civil service, and get it. And they're not all incompetent and lazy. And, no, if you're wondering, I'm not a civil servant :).

    And the Postal Service may have lost some money, but where would we be without one? If it weren't for the USPS, if you lived in the boonies, you'd have no mail delivery, because it'd only be done where it's profitable, probably in the cities.

  • by acceleriter ( 231439 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @03:14AM (#248719)
    I'm filing for student aid online this year - did you know you could do that? They do the whole process online, right down to your digital signature.

    While it's certainly cool that you can file your FAFSA on line, the PIN number they use is only a digital signature in the legal sense--it's not a public key based digital signature, but, rather, a shared secret. (The government is working on public key certificates, q.v. the Federal PKI group [nist.gov].) The IRS does it the same way, with pins.

    I think if you look closely, you'll find that the guts of these operations are outsourced to contractors in both the Departments of Education and Treasury. Particularly egregious is the symbiotic relationship between Treasury and electronic tax filing services--Treasury has basically agreed not to compete with them, so there will never be a way to file electronically without paying a fee, save for the sop thrown to very low income people filing very simple forms. I believe the taxpayers have already paid once for the IRS infrastructure, and should not have to pay either a private vendor or the government an additional fee to file electronically.

    Perhaps a technology czar would create the expertise in the civil service to bring those services in house, where they can be maintained without the danger of future problems often associated with the extensive use of contracting.

  • Alright, I've already been modded down for this idea, so please don't do it again. I think that one of the things holding down entrepreneurship (true entrepreneurship, not some of the lame crap that passes for it on the internet) is the cost. If the government built a public fiber network, it would help promising ideas develop into maturity. For example, an inner city kid who is a talented programmer could make a killer app, but if he doesn't have a means of promoting it, he'll never benefit from it. Free fiber internet access would allow him to use cheap hardware and free software to make a professional-looking (no ads, etc) website to market his app. Public internet access is the next step after free software. I think that it is one of the few areas in which the government could spend money on which there wouldn't be deadweight loss. of course, most slashdotters are hopelessly clueless about economics, so i can't expect you to agree with me on this.
  • The Bill text has yet to be posted to the web, but should be up in a week or so.

    So it currently takes "a week or so" to get a government document that was produced in a word processor onto the net? Gee, maybe we do need a technology Czar...

  • they should give Senators and Representatives e-training classes to make them more aware of current issues and get them to check their friggin' e-mails

    Actualy, I'd be willing to let them allocate a totaly unreasonable amount of money just to get their email addresses posted in a reasonably logical fassion. My representive is Robert Goodlatte of Virginia [house.gov]. Now if you follow the provided link you'll find a cutsy little page that his staff has set up. But if you try to e-mail [house.gov] him you get thrown into a little web-craplet which will allow you to email him. Why oh why don't they just give me his flippin address so I can email him myself????

    I'm sorry, for someone with his list of credientials [house.gov] I'm really shocked he's not more attuned to those of us who actualy have our own email accounts and harbor a deep and personal hatred of webmail.

    I belive it was Plato that said "If the people are given the right to choose their rulers they will elect fools and naives."

    This has been another useless post from....
  • You're damn right there is. We don't need the Federal government telling us what to do. If anyone followed the encryption battle, the Internet tax battle (all but lost it now seems), and yes, the war with Microsoft (looks better for Microsoft lately), they ought to know what to expect out of a technology czar: even more of the same.
  • since the Drug Czar is working so well at stamping out illegal drug use, that there should be a Technology Czar working on doing the same thing Does that mean the TC is working on stamping out technology? Or just that that's the likely effect of appointing a "technology czar".

    Wasn't the Czar a corrupt and ineffective hereditary dictator? Maybe they should look just a little higher -- the Presidency is coming pretty damn close to fitting that, on all counts...
  • Well I don?t know if you were trying to be funny, sarcastic or truthful. I will say I found your post funny.

    I also believe that this position is very important because it will lighten the halls of ignorance (at a cost of many millions). I will say that, the person that is elected should be someone that has fought against M$. At least that person should have a chance of providing us with better laws.

    Will the open source community benefit, maybe but I don?t see how. What they (government) may request of the open source community is their input. I would like to see some basic standards that are followed by the OSC be in general practice. Could you imagine if we could get a re-write of the contract between the seller and purchaser (renter, lease holder, whatever) of software. Maybe some basic government help manual on securing your system. How about some government web site design basics ever try to find something that has been buried so deep that you get lost on those gov. sites. I truly hope that the elected person is well educated in the processes of the internet.

    ONEPOINT
  • Look at the ages of the Reps and Senators, then factor in that most of them are layers, and there is a nifty combo for near zero IT intelligence. Must people over 40 or so, with little or no previous computer experience, probably find the current incarnation of computers and the 'net something akin to sorcery. Is it really a wonder that these folks don't have 1/100 the IT knowledge most of the people here do?
  • Or you could go to the local library to access the 'net, just like my wife did before we got married. And, are the poor really going to spend $20/month to get 'net access, or however much AOL costs now? The techno-illiterate are probably not going to know any ISP besides AOL, much less the few reamining free ISPs.
  • I think this could be used for good. Too sad it won't.

    Putting a good database with legislation to the web. It should also contain information on the legislation that is in preparation and other activities of the government agencies. Bills can be influenced much more when they are in preparation.

    This would give the citizens a view about what the government is up to do. It could make the bureaucracy more transparent. The government could not wipe their big mistakes under the carpet. And this is the reason for the government not to do it.

    they should give Senators and Representatives e-training classes to make them more aware of current issues

    I agree with you that the Senators and Representatives should have more clue on modern technology and science. However, I think e-classes wont solve that problem. It is lack of interest that makes them ignorant, not lack of information. They have chosen to give www-related matters a low priority. Maybe we should vote only people with clue.

  • by Caid Raspa ( 304283 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @04:28AM (#248729)
    I think this could be used for good. Too sad it won't.

    Putting a good database with legislation to the web. It should also contain information on the legislation that is in preparation and other activities of the government agencies. Bills can be influenced much more when they are in preparation.

    This would give the citizens a view about what the government is up to do. It could make the bureaucracy more transparent. The government could not wipe their big mistakes under the carpet. And this is the reason for the government not to do it.

    they should give Senators and Representatives e-training classes to make them more aware of current issues

    I agree with you that the Senators and Representatives should have more clue on modern technology and science. However, I think e-classes wont solve that problem. It is lack of interest that makes them ignorant, not lack of information. They have chosen to give www-related matters a low priority. Maybe we should vote only people with clue.

  • by Caid Raspa ( 304283 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @04:51AM (#248730)
    such a czar should have the government buy pcs and handhelds for the poor, that's what i say. even if 90% are resold/ used to play games/ view porn/ insert your own waste of time, it's the 10% that are used to turn minds that are otherwise wasted on the street into genius that makes all the difference.

    Good point, but couldn't this be done by just giving the still functioning but 'old' computers that are scrapped today to the poor instead.

    One of my frieds is working a sysadmin in a company that is dumping dozens of functional computers every week. The only reason this is done is that the computers can not be used with the latest versions of Windows and Office. Now, the "Czar" should step in and add a Linux Installation CD.

    I think this would be a better way of bridging the digital divide

  • 1. The Bill text has yet to be posted to the web, but should be up in a week or so.

    2. I'm not quite sure where that $225 million is going, but I don't like it.

    Perhaps the money will hasten and improve the process of posting government data online. Maybe one day bill texts will be online instantly. Also, in the far furture, we may be so advanced that we no longer require a representative legislature. People might vote on bills from their homes, or public buildings like libraries. Then again, the thought of million-man fillibusters is daunting, as is the fear of hacker attacks.
  • Maybe.. There are two points and possibilities here, please read them both before moderating:

    1)

    Lieberman proposed this to gain the votes of the exponentially growing technology-aware crowd. He is running for President the next term, and this could surely give him some points. Meanwhile, the republicans realize this and don't want it to be construed as a democrat "innovation," so they throw someone at the mix hoping to gain some recognition -- but alas, that person will be forgotten. He doesn't have the 'mindshare' of Lieberman, nor he is a major candidate for the next presidential race.

    2)

    In the real world, IMHO, this is a bad thing -- we don't need *more* government on the Internet, we need *less*. Government regulation has, to a degree, stunted our growth in regions of technology, infrastructure, and mindset. They jump in to regulate things, they jump into the bubble (they even try to take credit for it!); and when things go awry, they offer to make a committee to 'fix' things and bring 'innovation.'

    Unfortunately this is nonsense.

    Government, do you want to help your country, its people, and the Internet?

    You [government] need to change your mindset, to begin with.

    Please use that money to furnish those unable to access computers/the Internet/necessary education with such.

    5-10 years from now, when the 10% of the people you've helped have become reasonably capable, allow them the chance to provide a service to the government and the people of the country. Education and competition have driven us very far.

    It seems we have forgotten about capitalism. If the government really wants to offer new 'services,' it simply needs to become *ITSELF* more open to ideas presented by the capitalist society.

    If I'm a company and I can foreseeably provide the government with a service to allow them to take speeding ticket payments through a web site, take an ICANN approach to it and let me make X amount per ticket, or a %, and provide you with the service while providing the people you've spent money training with a job.

    Jason Fisher
    feroxtech.com

    TECH-COMMUNITY: SOMEBODY SET UP US THE COMMUNISM
    GOVERNMENT: MAKE YOUR TIME

    (Sorry for that. ;))
  • Goody, a technology Czar... Will he be in charge of the US Government's "war on thought"?

    --
    Rob White,
    Cv - Cv = 0 Therefore there is an absolute frame of reference.
  • by Richthofen80 ( 412488 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @04:34AM (#248734) Homepage
    Yeah, I agree, but why stop there? The government spent millions of dollars developing a national highway system... I want a brand new honda civic! do any of us driving-o-philes really want to see the majority of americans view the roads as just another toy of the rich? What about the auto divide?

    *sigh*

    The government is NOT there to hand out things. The point of any government in a free society is to protect its citizens in their pursuits of live, liberty and property... not to provide any of those. We are free to choose how we want to spend our lives... but we are not free to demand that any folks, rich or not, MUST give us their money for computers.

    If you want to give your money to a computer charity, fine, just don't force me to. If you have the government use my tax money to give stuff to people, i have no control over it. I either pay my taxes just the same or get arrested.

  • I paid a fee to file my taxes, too.

    34 cents for a postage stamp.
  • No, the Clinton junta categorically proved that Executive Branch email is off-limits. Heck, they hired highly-paid experts to make sure it wouldn't see the light of day.

    And President Bush has gone further, and just won't be using email at all.
  • Yes, Uncle Sam would need a lot of new admins. But imagine the savings in software costs.

    Those two sentences contradict each other. Hence it makes absolutely no sense.
  • My point is that 'cost of software' includes the chimps that have to be kept around to keep it running. Hence there's no real savings at all, just a budget shift to people who have to constantly be scanning Usenet for emerging bugs, etc.

  • I've always wondered that myself.

    I suspect that even the sheeple who don't know much history would have reacted badly to a "drug fuhrer"...

    ~ If you like the War On Drugs, you're gonna just love the War On Guns...

  • First we will have a tech Czar then the department will become the ILA (Internet Law enforcment Agency). this is a scary thing, congress will pass bills for industries and the ILA will be out the next day to round up violaters, and send them away for life.

    worse even, what if this department will be give powers like the FCC has, but instead of regulating communications mediums, they regulate internet activity, this would be 10 times worse then the ILA since they will have almost unlimited power to regulate.
  • this czar idea is really important if such a czar embraces one more big important idea other than just "gee i can get my driver's license online!": make tech something other than the domain of rich white guys.

    i am rich (moderately so relative to the average american and certainly the rest of the world), i am white, and i am male. if someone did an analysis of /. readers i think that it would become rapidly apparent that an overwhelming majority of us are the same.

    this is not good.

    if anything, the computer/ pc/ web revolution promised to be egalitarian, and i'm sorry, i just don't see it!

    government usually does very little while at the same time rapidly spending a lot of our money. if the government allocated some money to the digital divide problem under such a technoczar i'm sure 99% of it would get chewed up by talking heads and some offices shuffling papers around and no real world effect, but i still hope terribly that something really can be done to empower the poor if such a czar is set up.

    such a czar should have the government buy pcs and handhelds for the poor, that's what i say. even if 90% are resold/ used to play games/ view porn/ insert your own waste of time, it's the 10% that are used to turn minds that are otherwise wasted on the street into genius that makes all the difference.

    do any of us technophiles really want to see the majority of americans view tech as just another toy of the rich? something to not empower lives, but just something rich people have and use, and therefore just another symbol of a classist society? is tech something that helps keep the poor poorer and the rich richer? tech can elevate anyone up the economic food chain... let's see government realize what kind of social ills can be solved with that truth.

    i'm sorry, but compared to the digital divide, who cares if i can get my electronic refund from the irs faster...

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