This eWEEK

Anchors aweigh.

Imagine a symposium attended by several hundred thats dedicated to a single contract. Then youll have a picture of the recent gathering in New Orleans that was dedicated to the largest outsourcing deal ever, the Navy Marine Corps Intranet project.

Senior Editor Caron Carlson attended the conference and reports the tone was upbeat, but should it have been? The NMCI contract "is not for the faint of heart. ... Its not one for those who cant take a joke. ... Its not one for those who cant take a loss. ... Its not one for those who cant hang in there. ... Youre going to be very proud of this program in the end." Those statements come from Carons notes on the presentation by retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Al Edmonds, president of EDS Government Solutions.

When the deal was first struck, lawmakers questioned whether a contract this large could be managed on time and on budget. Now, we find out its not for the faint of heart. Another fact that should be raising taxpayer blood pressure is that the contract has been shuffled under the purview of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities of the House Armed Services Committee. Maybe thats where Edmonds recommendation about taking a joke comes in.

The millennium year must have inspired us to launch big projects. Microsofts .Net—like NMCI—was launched in 2000. In our third-anniversary look at the "bet-the-company thing," as Bill Gates called it, Microsofts Neil Charney says the Web services architecture is well on its way to permeating Microsofts product line—but we wont be hearing the initiative called ".Net" anymore. Charney explains in more detail in Senior Editor Peter Gallis Face to Face interview.

In these straitened times, municipalities are hard pressed to meet budgets. As eWEEK Labs Senior Writer Anne Chen reports, they might look at geographic information systems to help. The city of San Francisco has been using ESRI and IBM GIS products to track tax payments by location. As eWEEK Labs Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar reports, GIS systems no longer require gobs of processing power, and client systems can be mobile devices. Henry finds that ArcPad 6.0.2 and ArcView 8.3 from ESRI can take care of basic and enterprise tasks, respectively. Meanwhile, Microsofts MapPoint Web Service is based on XML and SOAP—.Net in action!

Till next eWEEK, send your comments to stan_gibson@ziffdavis.com.