Communities

Va. Adopts Seat Management Strategy

Virginia recently became the first state to adopt a plan to outsource the management of desktop computers at all levels of government.

Virginia's Council of Technology Services has been working on the state's ground-breaking plan since November 1998 and now is working toward finalizing a multivendor statewide contract, said Michael Thomas, deputy secretary of technology and director of the Department of Information Technology.

Once awarded, the contract will be open to all state agencies, local governments and educational institutions. Virginia state agencies alone operate more than 60,000 PC desktops, according to the report.

The state adopted the strategy after a 10-month pilot at the Virginia Department of Transportation. Under a $2 million contract, Alexandria, Va.-based Halifax Corp. assumed desktop procurement, maintenance training, technology refreshment and other services for the department's 1,500-plus desktops.

The deal has reduced the average cost of managing each desktop by about two thirds, according to Virginia officials.

"The response to the [VDOT] pilot literally has people knocking on the door to get into it," Thomas said.

Other pilots were conducted throughout the state, including an independent pilot at the University of Virginia, and all have proved successful, Thomas said.

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D.C. Police Chief Highlights Tech Upgrades

Washington, D.C., Police Chief Charles Ramsey recently unveiled on a new information technology strategy and a slew of new systems designed to enhance community policing in the district.

Ramsey highlighted five new information and communication systems that the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department will adopt. The announcements included the Police Reporting and Information Delivery System (PRIDE), which will provide officers with quick access to a database of such information as criminal histories, warrants, arrests, incidents, calls for service and stolen property. PRIDE also will link the department with national criminal justice databases and information from the U.S. Attorney's Office and other law enforcement agencies.

Ramsey said he wanted the public to know that the department is enacting changes through IT and not just making purchases.

"Let me be clear, I am not talking about buying a bunch of computers," Ramsey said. "I am talking about using technology to fundamentally change the way MPDC works with the community to police the District of Columbia."

The district also plans to equip every squad car with a mobile data computer enabling officers to research and submit reports from the field.

A crime mapping system will highlight crime patterns in police service areas, districts and regions.

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N.C. Web Site Aids Floyd Cleanup

When Hurricane Floyd bore down on the North Carolina coast in September, Gov. James Hunt asked his information technology department to provide the state's citizens with a single Internet point of contact for information on the storm and its impact.

Today, with communities still coping with Floyd's destruction, the state is focusing its hurricane World Wide Web site to provide more news about services needed by the thousands of people left homeless and out of work.

The eastern portion of the state was devastated by Floyd, and the repair and rebuilding process will be slow, said Denny McGuire, an information resource management analyst in North Carolina's office of IT services, who works under the guidance state CIO Rick Webb, the site's designer.

The site (www.state.nc.us/hurricane/hurricane.htm) has links to and contact information for unemployment agencies, insurance companies and emergency management teams, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There also links to images of Floyd.

"First, we had the crisis information, which included details on how to make donations, but we're moving into Phase Two, [which] will feature services for citizens, business, government and agriculture," McGuire said. "The eastern part of the state is going to be feeling the effects of this for quite a while, and people need to know where to apply for food stamps [and other services] who have never done it before."

McGuire said the site will be especially useful in areas where vital institutions such as hospitals still are returning to normal operations.

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Cash-Strapped D.C. Races for Y2K Finish Line

Despite a late start and some sloppy accounting, all of Washington, D.C.'s critical computer systems will be Year 2000-compliant, but it will be a close call and will require a more than 50 percent increase in federal funding, city officials said last month

Mayor Anthony Williams, testifying before the District of Columbia subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Government Reform Committee, said the district will go down to the wire for full compliance but will have all systems ready and contingency plans in place for Jan.1.

But district officials said they need additional federal funds to reach the finish line and recently filed a request for $68 million in additional funding with the Office of Management and Budget.

Officials from the U.S. General Accounting Office, however, took issue with D.C.'s time line for Year 2000 compliance and its inability to track the funds the district has received to date.

Although the district has made notable progress with Year 2000 fixes, it still is in danger of not meeting the deadline, according to GAO, and the district had not fully accounted for how it had spent the $120 million in funding it has received for Year 2000 fixes.

GAO had "received inconsistent and unreliable cost data from several district officials," said GAO official Gloria Jarmon. "The district cannot offer assurance that funds intended for Y2K efforts have been properly or effectively spent."

Williams and the other district officials acknowledged that they had encountered difficulty in tracking Year 2000 funds and said efforts were under way to accurately track the money. But they also noted that the district's Year 2000 readiness efforts contributed to the problem.

Given the emergency status of the remediation efforts, the district's top priority has been to simply secure the funds, Williams said. "In my world, you have to distinguish between the top priorities that are blowing up, and just the top priorities," he said. "The city is going to be ready."

"They would have been pulling people off of Y2K to track funds," said the committee's ranking minority member, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), who also said she would "continue to do everything I can to protect those [federal Y2K] dollars for the district."

Suzanne Peck, Washington D.C.'s chief technology officer, reported that of the city's 223 mission-critical systems, 130 are Year 2000 ready and the remaining 93 are in different phases of remediation and testing. She said she expected those 93 systems to have had their testing completed by the end of October and returned to production this month.

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Pa. Gov. Ridge Announces 'Friction-Free' Government Plan for Entrepreneurs

Gov. Tom Ridge announced that Pennsylvania has launched a World Wide Web site that aims to make the commonwealth the easiest place in the nation for entrepreneurs to launch businesses.

Ridge said that when the Web site (www.paopen4business.state.pa.us) is complete, businesses no longer will have to visit government agencies and fill out separate forms at each one to get off the ground. Rather, as part of the new plan for "friction-free" government, the site will be an Internet portal that provides entrepreneurs with access to all the state forms and applications necessary for starting a business.

The site will be rolled out in phases and will become completely interactive, eliminating the need to send identical paper forms repeatedly to separate agencies, said Kevin Dellicker, senior policy manager for economic development in the governor's office.

"Rather than going to five separate agencies and filling out 10 forms at each, the entrepreneur will essentially enter the information on a template," he said. "The agencies then pull that information off the portal, so the user doesn't have to go to them."

Ridge is putting together a budget request for next year for the program, and specific allocations from state agencies were scheduled for completion in the first week of October, Dellicker said.

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NASPO Selects New President and Board of Directors

The National Association of State Procurement Officials recently elected Jan Hamlik of Wisconsin's State Bureau of Procurement as incoming president for 1999-2000.

Hamlik has been a member of NASPO (www.naspo.org) since she took her current position in 1991. Prior to her appointment as the state's procurement director, Hamlik held two other positions in the department, as well as serving as the director of purchasing for the University of Wisconsin.

The organization also selected Missouri's Joyce Murphy as president-elect.

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ECom-Ohio Ready to Go

On Sept. 21, Ohio launched ECom-Ohio, the first project of its kind aimed at assessing the state's readiness for global electronic commerce.

The project will bring together statewide technology leaders in government, education and industry to assess Ohio's network infrastructure as well as citizens' demand for online services. The project, which will be housed at the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), also will tackle the "digital divide," ensuring that different regions of the state have the same level of access to technology.

"Our metropolitan areas are very well connected, but other areas are experiencing the great digital divide," said Pari Sabety, OSC's director of technology policy. "We want to analyze the data to see exactly where the divide is...and get a sense of how far along we are. People have been investing in infrastructure for years and asking, 'When do we have enough for broadband?'...And we don't have enough."

The three-year project (which will be found at www.ecom-ohio.org) is being supported by the Ohio Department of Development and private companies. It will help the state compare regions of the state with the rest of the United States in network infrastructure reliability and use.

"The project should provide a snapshot of the framework of technology from counties throughout the state [and] at the regional level,"

Sabety said. "We want to identify the gaps and determine where to continue to invest."

Business and industry partners will examine how the advancement of the digital economy will affect their future.

"We're going to be looking for examples of how companies are using e-commerce technology because it's a lot more than just buying and selling things over the Internet," said Michael Silver, acting director of the Ameritech Camp Center for E-Commerce Services and Solutions in Cleveland. "ECom-Ohio is a good fit with our mission to help small and medium-size businesses find e-commerce business solutions."

The project will use benchmarks established by the 1998 Computer Systems Policy Project (www.cspp.org/gecreadinessguide). A statewide steering committee with representatives from all sectors will oversee six regional leadership teams. The regional teams will perform infrastructure inventory, domain and World Wide Web site analysis, community planning, real-time product testing and user surveys.

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