HHS unifying IT systems, services

The Department of Health and Human Services has drawn up a master plan for

bringing new order to information technology systems and services across

its 13 divisions.

Rolled out over three years, the Enterprise Infrastructure Management

initiative would reshape how the department buys, manages and secures its

systems, said Brian Burns, deputy chief information officer at HHS, speaking

Wednesday at the Government CIO Summit in Savannah, Ga.

Ultimately, the initiative will free individual agencies to focus on

the services they provide, rather than the systems they run, Burns said.

EIM "is moving us from being a system-centric organization to a customer

service-centric organization," he said.

EIM is not a system but a combination of policies, procedures and technologies.

For example, HHS plans to establish a departmentwide approach to buying

software, which would give individual agencies access to higher-volume pricing

on software licenses than would otherwise be possible.

HHS also plans to develop procedures for dealing with security problems.

The department, which is fairly decentralized, does not have a system for

spreading the word or collecting information about security problems, such

as the ILOVEYOU virus, Burns said.

Procedures for dealing with security problems would be reinforced by

management technology. For example, HHS would like the network management

systems at the various divisions to automatically forward reports of problems

to a system at headquarters.

To the extent possible, the department would like its individual agencies

to use a common set of management technology or — as with network management — technology that at least works together.

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