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September 27, 1998

TIMING IS EVERYTHING AS NSF HANDS OFF TO COMMERCE DEPT

By CBR Staff Writer

People are wondering why the Department of Commerce slipped out an announcement recently that it has taken over responsibility from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the co-operative agreement with Network Solutions Inc to run the InterNic part of the domain name system (DNS). The NSF tells us that its because the net is a commercial medium and has been for the past three years and so the contract is better suited being looked after by Commerce. The hand-over was not made until September 9, with the announcement coming a week later, but the NSF says the delay in announcing was due to it having to inform all the lawyers that have cases outstanding against the NSF. Presumably it’s also because Becky Burr, the senior internet policy advisor at the National Telecommunications and Information Agency, who co-wrote the green and white DNS papers with Ira Magaziner works within Commerce and has been directly involved in the wind-down talks with NSI – the contract expires on September 30. The NSF says it has not been involved in the talks. Others think it’s because Commerce is looking to find a scapegoat for why the matter has not been resolved by now, being so close to the deadline and by taking over it hopes that will reflect badly on the NSF. Whatever the reason, the timing is curious.

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