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
One vocal e-voting critic is Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), who has filed a lawsuit to force 15 Florida counties to use a paper trail if they use e-voting machines in the upcoming elections. According to Federal Computer Week, Wexler took action in response to "an article published May 15 in the Miami Herald, which reported that Election Systems & Software Inc. 'will have to work around a glitch in the machines' auditing systems because the software that would correct it will not be certified by the state in time for the fall elections.'" Meanwhile, Florida officials aren't too happy with the congressman. The Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported last week that "Wexler's federal lawsuit over touch-screen voting machines is helping foster doubts about the upcoming election and is shaking people's faith in the new voting machines, attorneys for Florida elections officials told a judge."
News.com picked up on the "trust" theme in an article published today. Michael Alvarez of the California Institute of Technology said the mounting criticisms of e-voting "adds a huge amount of uncertainty, and a whole level and new types of scrutiny that states will be applying. E-voting machines can only work if people have trust in them, and if we are in a situation where we lack trust, then we aren't going to benefit." News.com's long overview of the whole e-voting debate is worth a read.
In an editorial on Tuesday, The New York Times called on New York officials to join California and other states in advocating for tougher safeguards and paper trails for e-voting machines. Excerpt: "As concerns have grown about the reliability of electronic voting machines, a nationwide groundswell has been forming to demand that the machines produce paper records of votes that voters can check. California will require all electronic voting machines in the state to produce such records by 2006, and Ohio adopted the same rule this month. New York State should have been in the forefront of this movement, but its elected officials have been dragging their feet. If New York acts quickly and resolutely now, however, it can not only protect the reliability of its own votes, but can also help make verifiable paper trails a national standard."
Other Noteworthy Government IT News:
* Richard Clarke isn't a real popular guy at the White House these days, thanks to his tell-all book criticizing what he said was President Bush's single-minded determination to go after Saddam Hussein in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Now Clarke is throwing more barbs at the administration, telling National Journal's Technology Daily that Bush is failing to follow through on his national cybersecurity strategy. "The president signed it, the president issued it, there was the usual amount of lip service to it, but then nothing ever happened for the better part of a year," said Clarke, who served as national cybersecurity czar under Bush until early 2003.
* Washington state's chief information officer has made the leap from the public to the private sector. Stuart McKee is joining Microsoft next month as the company's national technology officer. InformationWeek reported more about the motivation behind the move, including the not-so-surprising news that McKee will make more money at Microsoft: "The 37-year-old Seattle-area native said the decision by Gov. Gary Locke not to seek reelection partly influenced his move to change jobs. McKee also hinted that private-sector pay contributed to his decision." Here's CIO Magazine's profile of McKee.
* Montana is also looking to fill its CIO position. Brian Wolf, "the state's first CIO, is leaving in June to become the chief operating officer of the utility division at the National Information Solutions Cooperative in St. Peters, Mo.," Government Computer News reported. Here is CIO Magazine's profile of Wolf.
* The revolving door continues: The Small Business Administration is losing top e-government official Ron Miller to government contractor SRA International Inc., Federal Computer Week reported yesterday. SBA confirmed the move to the publication. Miller is the former chief information officer of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and also has helped with IT efforts at the Department of Homeland Security.
* State and local governments have more places to shop for IT wares and services. "A final procurement rule that allows state and local governments to buy information technology products and services off the General Services Administration schedules" went live on May 18, Washington Technology reported. The effort is part of goals set forth in the E-Government Act of 2002.
E-mail government IT tips, comments and links to cindyDOTwebbATwashingtonpost.com