ORD links network to EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development (ORD) - one of the most fragmented offices in an agency often criticized for its stovepipe approach to information management - is rolling out a new network that will link it for the first time to the rest of the EPA.

With the help of OAO Corp. which holds a $65 million support contract with ORD the office is migrating its local-area networks from Pathworks a Unix network operating system to Microsoft Windows NT said Cliff Moore who runs the ORD management information systems staff.

The effort is part of the agency's Administrative Reform Initiative which aims to install common management applications among the different EPA divisions. These applications include correspondence tracking finance and personnel systems.

Moore said the new LAN technology which is being tested at ORD headquarters in Washington D.C. will allow employees at 17 sites nationwide to integrate their systems with the rest of the EPA which primarily uses Novell NetWare and to share future agencywide administrative applications.

"It's a step forward" for an office that has always had different computing needs from many others in the agency because of the scientific research it performs Moore said.

Paul Wohlleben the EPA's director of information resources management said "Traditionally our research community has been on a different technology and we have had a less than totally satisfactory way of integrating them with the rest of the agency."

Under the five-year Facilities Administration and Information Resources contract OAO is responsible for making sure each ORD site adopts common system documentation and operating guidelines. In the past each site operated its systems independently and "we want to make sure they are keeping on the same sheet of music " said Georgia Bailey area manager for EPA programs.

Among the EPA-wide applications ORD plans to deploy this year is Lotus Notes which Wohlleben said is the environment for which many of the EPA's administrative applications are being written. Moore said ORD also is looking into using intranet technology.

Meanwhile EPA officials are considering for agencywide deployment the ORD Management Information System which the agency developed to tie its budget equipment and personnel expenditures to specific projects.

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