Set-Asides

Set of standards needed for e-grants

Federal agencies that want to receive grant applications from the public electronically should agree on a set of common data elements and develop one common user interface, according to a report issued this month.

In its final report to the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, a Transportation Department-led group developing an electronic grants system said constantly changing data standards "impeded'' the development of shared systems for processing and managing grants, while agencies were developing their own World Wide Web interfaces "without regard for the impact on their customers.'' A complete prototype of a U.S. Electronic Grants System was scheduled for completion next year, but officials need another $3.1 million to complete it.

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Year 2000 brings benefits to CIOs

The Year 2000 problem may have caused havoc and cost billions of dollars to fix, but it also may have taught federal chief information officers how to better handle future information technology problems, according to Kathy Adams, co-chairwoman of the CIO Council's Year 2000 Committee.

The biggest benefit for CIOs and the council has been building confidence that they can solve large problems, Adams told an audience at the FOSE show in Washington, D.C., last week. According to CIO Council members, more confidence will pay off in addressing capital planning, and recruiting and retention of federal IT professionals.

Information security is the most immediate of the problems facing federal IT professionals. "Cybersecurity is the next battleground for CIOs," said John Gilligan, co-chairman of the CIO Council's Security Committee.

The Year 2000 problem also has forced CIOs to clean house and to learn how their IT architecture was put together - something few, if any, federal IT professionals knew. CIOs also learned the benefits of having good management practices within their departments and of having contingency plans to ensure the delivery of services to citizens, Adams said.

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CIOs release piracy guidelines

A committee for the CIO Council released model guidelines today that will help agencies comply with last year's presidential executive order on computer software piracy.

The executive order, signed by President Clinton Sept. 30, 1998, set forth the government's policy against using, acquiring and distributing software illegally. The order requires federal agencies to establish procedures for managing software, such as audits and employee education programs, to ensure the legal and proper use of software. It also calls for copyright compliance by federal contractors and recipients of federal financial aid.

The model guidelines set forth by the CIO Council's Outreach Committee offer samples of policies covering software management, use and acquisition that agencies can adopt to comply with the executive order. The guidelines also discuss the role of the chief information officer, recordkeeping approaches and training, said Alan Balutis, the deputy CIO at the Commerce Department.

For example, the guidelines assign CIOs the overall responsibility for implementing agencies' software management policies. For recordkeeping, the guidelines establish and maintain a recordkeeping system for software licenses and invoices.

The CIO Council is expected to adopt the guidelines next month, Balutis said.

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Y2K fixes may take more money

Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate's Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem, said last week that thoroughly fixing the millennium bug may take more money because time is limited.

Congress last year earmarked a total of $3.25 billion for civilian agencies and the Defense Department to tap if needed for Year 2000 fixes. According to federal budget documents, civilian agencies have spent more than half of the $2.25 billion in emergency Year 2000 money that Congress set aside last year; the money was designated for use until the end of fiscal 2001. Congress also gave DOD $1 billion. President Clinton has requested no additional emergency Year 2000 money.

"My own experience with the federal government tells me, yeah, there will be a need for more emergency funding," Bennett said.

He said Congress should be careful not to let agencies fund pet projects under the guise of fixing Year 2000 problems, but he also said Congress should not prevent agencies from obtaining more money if they truly need it.

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