The Circuit

IT outlook good; Printing trouble; Want to rethink that?; Upson resurfaces

IT Outlook Good

The Bush administration is likely to spend $53 billion on information technology in fiscal 2003, but do not expect any major new projects that cost billions of dollars and need many IT companies to carry them out, according to the outlook from Federal Sources Inc.

Instead, the administration seeks better partnerships while saving money as it enhances technology already in the system, according to Jim Kane, president and chief executive officer of FSI, speaking May 8 at the firm's 17th annual federal outlook briefing.

"There are not a lot of big new starts," Kane told vendors in McLean, Va. "There will be continual enhancements to programs already in place."

Some agencies will need more help than others. Ken Ritchhart, IT manager at the FBI, said at the conference that until last December, 40 percent of the desktop computers at the agency could not access the Web. The FBI has since added 14,000 seats using 21st-century technology. Nevertheless, he said, "We don't really know what we know."

Printing Trouble

The Bush administration is making things tough for the Government Printing Office.

Mitchell Daniels Jr., director of the Office of Management and Budget, is directing agencies to consider taking bids on print jobs, rather than sending them to GPO as a matter of course. GPO, Daniels points out in a May 3 memo, usually contracts out the work itself, performing only 16 percent of printing in-house.

That probably would not be such a problem if GPO did not hit agencies with additional processing fees for outsourced work and, to add insult to injury, pocket discounts for prompt payments offered by private printers, rather than pass on the savings to agencies. Those extras cost the executive branch as much as $70 million per year, OMB estimates.

Want to Rethink That?

A group of state chief information officers recently met with Richard Clarke, President Bush's cyberspace security adviser, as part of the administration's outreach efforts to develop the national cybersecurity strategy, and were surprised by what they heard.

Proposals to create national identification cards — and other similar ideas — that are based on digitally enhanced, state-issued driver's licenses are a top issue for state CIOs. But, when asked, Clarke said identity security and assurance was not a focus for him, according to a CIO who was at the meeting. It's interesting that cybersecurity, not identity security, would be the top priority, considering that the majority of security incidents are caused by unauthorized users accessing information or systems.

Upson Resurfaces

Don Upson, who spent the past four years serving as Virginia's technology secretary, is joining integration software specialist webMethods Inc. in June as vice president of business operations for its new public-sector unit.

The move reunites part of the team that built Litton PRC Inc. into a major federal integrator. Len Pomata, who was president and chief executive of Litton before its purchase by Northrop Grumman Corp., joined webMethods in March as the president of webMethods Federal, the new public-sector business unit of the company. Upson was vice president at Litton before his appointment as Virginia's technology secretary in 1998.

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