Business & Finance
03:52 PM
John Soat
John Soat

IT Confidential: Old Europe Or New: Can Tech Take Sides?

Congressman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., introduced legislation last week calling for the use of CDMA cell-phone technology in the reconstruction of Iraq, instead of the system being proposed by the Department of Defense that's based on the European GSM cell-phone standard. CDMA was developed in the United States, and Qualcomm, which is based in Issa's 49th District, commercialized the technology and owns key patents. "If U.S. taxpayers are going to be gifting billions of dollars in technology and infrastructure to the Iraqi people, we ought to make sure, to the greatest extent possible, that those expenditures also benefit the American people and the American economy," Issa said in a statement. He also sent a letter with the same request to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "If we build a system based on European technology, the Europeans will receive the royalties, not U.S. patent holders. From an investment standpoint, that is a bad decision," Issa said.

NASA has named Patricia Dunnington its new CIO. Dunnington had been the space agency's deputy CIO, a post she held since August. Before that, she was CIO of NASA's Langley Research Center. Dunnington will report to NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe. Dunnington replaces Paul Strassmann, who was tapped as acting CIO last year when Lee Holcomb moved to the White House to be Homeland Security chief technology officer. Strassmann, an industry veteran and author of several books on IT management, joined NASA last spring as special assistant to the administrator for information management to help develop an IT strategy and architecture. Strassmann plans to retire to private life. "He's introduced contemporary business practices and a game plan that will help us fully implement the plan," O'Keefe says.

Innotrac, an order-processing company, last week tapped Jim McMurphy as its new CIO. Prior to Innotrac, McMurphy was a divisional CIO for Capital One Financial, and before that he was CIO of Pleasant, a division of toymaker Mattel. McMurphy also worked as an IT consultant with Price Waterhouse.

Gap made Toby Lenk president of its online division. Lenk, 41, will oversee online businesses for Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy, based in San Francisco, as well as the company's customer call-center and online distribution operations in Ohio. Lenk will report to Gap president and CEO Paul Pressler and will be a member of the company's executive leadership team. Lenk was a pioneer in online retailing, having founded in 1997 eToys, which rose and fell hard with the dot-com crash and ended up being sold to KB Toys in 2001. Before founding eToys, Lenk was VP of corporate strategic planning for Walt Disney.

I miss those dot-com days--Internet time, stock options instead of cash, the sock puppet--wait a minute, no I don't! But I won't miss an industry tip, if you send it to or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about French technology (an oxymoron?--just kidding!) or IT architectures, meet me's Listening Post:

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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