This weekly feature surveys top government IT-related news -- involving all levels of government, from the federal to state and local, and international news. It is designed to give readers a primer on current trends and developments affecting the industry's major and interesting players, surveying news headlines from around the world. Washingtonpost.com's Cynthia L. Webb pens the feature. E-mail Cindy Webb Cindy Webb's Daily Filter Column
Titan said today it plans to hold a conference call on July 8 to go over preliminary financial results for its second quarter.
Top 100 Implications?
An interesting side note: Washington Technology ranked Titan No. 9 on its recent 2004 Top 100 list of federal prime contractors. The collapse of the deal means Titan will stay in the Top 10. And should one of the other top 5 contractors on the list decide to make a move for Titan, Lockheed's decade-long run at the top of the list might be endangered. In its coverage of the proposed Titan deal in its package of Top 100 stories, Washington Technology wrote that with Titan, Lockheed "will have secured its lead in the race for federal IT contract dollars for many years to come, and placed itself beyond the reach of its closest competitor."
As for Lockheed, Reuters had more details on the company's possible next move: "Lockheed, which announced the decision on Saturday, declined to comment on any specific uses of the $1.66 billion earmarked for the deal, saying only that it has used spare cash for an array of purposes in the past, including dividend payments, share repurchases, debt reduction, capital investments and acquisitions. Some speculated the company, which had been interested in Titan's federal information technology business and its employees that held hard-to-obtain security clearances, would look to fill those niches with another purchase. Lockheed declined to comment."
CBS Marketwatch reported on Monday that "Lockheed Martin isn't expected to aggressively pursue another acquisition in the near term following the failed merger with fellow defense contractor Titan, analysts said Monday, though they allowed that the deal's termination could be a negotiating tactic."
From Missiles to Homeland Security
Titan, like other contractors, has shifted its focus to match the government's post-Sept. 11 defense, homeland security and Iraq-reconstruction priorities. The company moved from missile defense deals to food irradiation work and information technology and homeland security contracting, The Wall Street Journal said in it front-page coverage of the company. "The company isn't alone in its corporate contortions. The Cold War's end in late 1991 brought budget cuts at the Pentagon and -- mirroring the corporate world -- an emphasis on outsourcing services. Traditional weapons makers entered new areas. Northrop Grumman Corp., for instance -- by buying space-technology firm TRW Inc. -- took control of a business that now trains Iraqi and Saudi security forces and provides translators for peacekeepers in the Balkans. Lockheed Martin, a longtime force in planes and rockets, built information-technology services into one of its fastest-growing lines. That thrust led Lockheed to Titan, a big player in classified IT services."
E-Voting Advisers Needed -- Report
A new report from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law recommends that independent experts and permanent advisory panels be created to help ensure security of the nation's e-voting machines, Federal Computer Week reported on Tuesday. ComputerWorld said the report "recommended that all jurisdictions contract for independent 'red team' exercises to uncover any hidden physical and electronic vulnerabilities" in electronic voting systems, and elections officials were urged to publicize how well e-voting machine vendors cooperate with these efforts.
"These recommendations represent important options that address the nation's need for strategies to enhance security and public confidence in electronic voting systems," said U.S. Election Assistance Commission chairman, DeForest Soaries Jr., in a statement about the report that was picked up by FCW said. "Soaries said he also will recommend that the commission's Technical Guidelines Development Committee review the report and determine 'how we may consider incorporating the report's conclusions in our efforts to assist local election officials prepare for the November election.' Other recommendations in the report include providing thorough training for all elections officials and workers on the security steps, and developing procedures for random testing of the e-voting systems."
The e-voting debate continues and is ratcheting up again as the presidential election approaches. CNET's News.com this week featured an online roundtable with two e-voting supporters and two opponents. "Defending e-voting from a security perspective is Michael Shamos, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University who has inspected and certified voting systems for Pennsylvania and Texas. Also defending e-voting, but from a civil rights perspective, is Daniel Tokaji, assistant professor at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law. Arguing against e-voting machines in their present form are David Dill, a computer science professor at Stanford University and founder of VerifiedVoting.org, a group that advocates mandatory paper-based audit systems for electronic ballots. Also arguing against e-voting is Cindy Cohn, legal director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation," CNET explained.
A sampling the panel's thoughts:
From Dill: "The harms [of e-voting] are not potential; they are real. The obvious harm is that no sensible person will have confidence in a system that cannot be meaningfully audited. Electronic voting in its current form is morally equivalent to handing over the counting of votes to private groups who count the ballots behind closed doors--and then destroy them before anyone else can do a recount."