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7/3/2002
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IT Confidential

For the most part, Mark Forman, the Office of Management and Budget's associate director for IT and E-government--essentially the federal government's CIO--is looking forward to passage of the Electronic Government Act, which won unanimous approval in the Senate last month. Forman does have concerns, though, about a provision in the bill that calls for a Senate-confirmed E-government administrator within OMB, which sounds a lot like his job. Supporters, including the bill's chief sponsor, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D.-Conn., say a confirmed E-administrator would have more clout in getting agencies to cooperate. The bill, which also authorizes $345 million over four years to fund interagency E-government projects, establishes an online directory of federal Web sites and requires federal courts to post judicial opinions online. It has been assigned to the House Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy. A spokesman for the subcommittee's chairman, Rep. Tom Davis, R.-Va., says legislation involving homeland security has a higher priority. Forman says he's not concerned that the House isn't acting fast enough on the E-government bill, because he's concentrating on homeland security, too. But there's a synergy between homeland security and the interagency collaboration the E-government bill should foster. "We can't do homeland security without applying E-business approaches to government," Forman says.

Speaking of concerns, the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology released a study late last month that puts a dollar figure on the cost of buggy software: $59.5 billion annually. That's about 0.6% of the gross national product, NIST says. The $59.5 billion figure represents "the amount of money spent on testing and removing errors" from software, says Gregory Tassey, an economist at NIST who helped write the study. That includes the hardware, software, and salaries of the labor force engaged in testing and fixing software at user companies and third-party software vendors, Tassey says. "A quarter of all software engineers" are involved in fixing defective software, he says. The study, which was conducted by the Research Triangle Institute in Research Triangle Park, N.C., also found that, though all software errors can't be caught, an "improved testing infrastructure that enables earlier and more effective identification and removal of software defects" could eliminate $22.2 billion of the money lost.

Correction to an item last week about Sam Wyly's latest bid to topple Computer Associates' management: Ranger Governance, Wyly's holding company, owns only 100 shares of CA stock (not 3 million), with options to purchase about 1.5 million more, according to a CA spokesman. Also, shortly after Wyly made known his intentions to sponsor a new management team at CA's annual shareholder meeting next month, Private Capital Management, one of the largest holders of CA stock with 34 million shares, sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission expressing its support of the company's current management, including CA founder and chairman Charles Wang and CEO Sanjay Kumar.

What's in a name? Chapura is a PDA middleware developer founded about five years ago by a couple of IT veterans from International Paper in Mobile, Ala. Chapura writes software that links Microsoft Outlook with the Palm handheld; the name is a concatenation of the names of its two founders, Jim Chapelle and Phil Purpura. Keith Ellenberg, chief operating officer of Chapura and former VP of IT at International Paper, says the company found out the hard way that the name means "funny hat" in Hindi. "We got E-mails," Ellenberg says. Also, Chapura got an E-mail from a family in Pennsylvania asking if anyone connected with the company was a relative from their original homeland, Czechoslovakia. Ellenberg says they were only too happy to provide the Chapura family with plenty of logoed stuff.

Hey, isn't there a software company named Soat I could hit up for some cool logoed stuff? (Not that I do that kind of thing!) I hate to think what my name means in Hindi, though--I bet it isn't "funny hat." Do you know what your name means in Hindi? Or do you have an industry tip? Send them to [email protected] or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about E-government, the high cost of software quality, or wearing logoed stuff, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.

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