Agriculture CIO gets keys to IT
- By Colleen O'Hara
- Mar 19, 2000
In a move designed to improve management of the Agriculture Department's
modernization program, the department's chief information officer has been
given direct responsibility for the success of key IT modernization programs.
No longer does Joseph Leo, CIO at the USDA, have a purely oversight
role in how the department deploys information technology systems to support
its Service Center Modernization Initiative. He is now directly responsible
for managing the initiative's IT investments.
The USDA's struggling Service Center Modernization Initiative will combine
the program services of the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation
Service and Rural Development mission areas. These county-based agencies
will deliver about $55 billion in farm, conservation and rural development
programs and services this fiscal year.
The Common Computing Environment is a cornerstone of the modernization program.
Through CCE, the department will field a common set of desktop computers,
applications and other technologies to its service centers nationwide. These
service centers will provide farmers with one-stop shopping for services
such as farm loan applications. Farmers traditionally had to visit three
agencies for assistance.
Leo will have responsibility for CCE planning and acquisition; the interoperability
lab in Beltsville, Md.; and other modernization initiatives.
"The Service Center Modernization Initiative is among the secretary's
highest priorities," Leo said last week at a House appropriations subcommittee
Leo also underscored the importance of receiving full fiscal 2001 funding
for modernization. The USDA asked for $75 million to continue installing
the CCE and another $6.6 million for IT security.