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  • Writer's picturetony

Feed the Beast

Another bit of frivolity from my old NSA Blog, the story is from the early 1980's. I am assuming that the statute of limitations on any wrongdoing is long past.


Just a snippet from my distant past. The general theme is about the creative things we do to survive and occasionally thrive in a large bureaucratic system.

I recently told someone that “in the early days” (very early 80's), we had to be creative in order to acquire “Personal Computers” and accessories for the office, which were apparently considered frivolous or too “fun” by people in our management chain.

So to buy an “Apple II Joystick” - after the first attempt was rejected - we filled out a Purchase Request for something like a “multi-axis analog input potentiometer” (with the correct Apple Part # for a game joystick). Yes, it was a Mission Essential Requirement (well, sort of - I was developing animated graphics for a demonstration to be presented at NSA Family Day). As I recall, I ordered 2 of them, but many weeks later an entire box full of them arrived. (Oops. Maybe the written justification for them was too good?)

My then-Branch Chief Bob M., in a recently recorded interview with the NSA IAD (Information Assurance Directorate) Historian, credited me with the deception, but I remembered it as his idea. Or maybe I was just the fall guy in case we got caught.

Anyone else have a tale of, uh, creative ways to get the system to let you to do the right thing? That you can share without repercussions?


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