GSA adds IT policy division

In its latest round of reorganizations the General Services Administration last week announced the formation of an IT policy office and the consolidation of two other departments into the growing empire of telecom czar Bob Woods.

The new Office of Information Technology which will operate within the Office of Governmentwide Policy headed by Marty Wagner will guide agencies on issues such as modular contracting and help with creating a working group of federal Webmasters.

Meanwhile Woods' Federal Telecommunications Service which has primary responsibility for FTS 2000 absorbed the IT Integration (ITI) Office and the Office of Information Security (OIS) which had belonged to the now-defunct GSA Information Technology Service.

John Okay deputy commissioner at FTS said the heads of ITI and OIS will report directly to Woods who apparently has no immediate intentions of changing either organization though the groups may be restructured next year to better integrate their operations into FTS.

"Over the next six months we will take a look at their product mix customer base and business plans to see if there are opportunities for integration with FTS " Okay said.

Okay said he and Woods already have met with Larry Cohan and Tom Burke the respective directors of ITI and OIS "to get a briefing from them on their current plans and budget status."

ITI includes contracting and program management operations including the Federal Computer Acquisition Center (Fedcac) and the Federal Systems Integration and Management Center. OIS offers consulting services and other assistance to agencies seeking help with information security and privacy issues.

Fedcac director Steve Meltzer said last week that he does not believe the change will have much of an immediate impact on his organization.

"I think my chain of command through ITI will stay intact so [the reorganization] will probably be transparent to me " he said. "But as time goes on a few people and functions will probably shift around like in any reorganization. My plans in this organization are to keep providing service to our federal cli-ents."

GSA administrator David Barram said FTS was chosen to be the new home for the two or-ganizations after months of searching because the missions of ITI and OIS fit most appropriately with the FTS business lines."Moving these two divisions to FTS makes sense because there is a fundamental synergy between the network and security issues in FTS and the missions of these divisions " Barram said last week. "ITI and OIS are working together now and I think it is important to maintain that relationship."

Okay said the move will allow FTS to meet the entire scope of agencies' requirements.

"If I were back at a customer agency I could look at FTS as a one-stop shop for all of my IT needs " he said.

Policy Shop

Unlike programs under FTS efforts undertaken by the new Office of Information Technology will center around policy issues rather than operations. Wagner associate administrator at the Office of Government-wide Policy said the office will focus on cross-cutting issues that affect agencies govern-mentwide but will steer clear of issues connected with agencies' missions.

Fred Sims head of the new office called it "a government-wide support organization" and said he will concentrate on "bringing agencies together and [having them work] with us in a collaborative way" on IT policy issues. The office also will work closely with the Office of Management and Budget and three interagency groups: the CIO Council the Information Technology Resources Board and the Government Information Technology Services Board.

Sims said the office will employ 45 people by the end of the year and house five divisions focusing on strategic IT analysis IT management practices emerging IT applications interagency IT strategies and IT professional development.

Larry Wolfe head of the Strategic IT Analysis Division said his group recently completed an effort to revise the Federal Acquisition Regulation to reflect changes made as a result of the IT Management Reform Act and to move parts of the defunct Federal IRM Regulation into other regulatory documents. An interagency group of Trail Boss graduates assisted in these tasks he said.

The division also will develop a consolidated IT acquisition guide that will include concepts introduced in ITMRA such as modular contracting Wolfe said. It will take six to 12 months before the group issues draft instructions to agencies he added.

The Strategic IT Analysis Division also is managing the Year 2000 World Wide Web page to publicize potential IT problems associated with the turn of the century and will issue within weeks model contract language that agencies can add to solicitations to ensure Year 2000 compliance.

Wolfe also said he would work on security and policy issues although Wagner said it has not been established how the division will work with the OIS organization just transferred to FTS.

"There will be some changes in the way the [OIS] will be structured " he said. "But there will be very close and tight coordination."

An agency source said the survival of the new office will depend largely on continued support from people such as John Koskinen deputy director for management at OMB. "If a successor to Koskinen comes in and doesn't support this office that could be the end of it " the source said. "It's kind of shaky but there seems to be recognition that this group has a role to play."


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