State program strives for efficient IT

The State Department has a prescription for its efficiency-challenged computer systems.

It's called OpenNet Plus, and its aim is to eliminate duplicative infrastructure and management while opening communications and collaboration among State's offices and the various agencies with which it does business.

The program was outlined Friday in Reston, Va., during a conference on telecommunications opportunities in the federal government.

OpenNet Plus is designed to take on the inefficiencies that have built up over the years as different information technology systems have been put into place, said Fernando Burbano, chief information officer for the department. State officials are frustrated by the need to keep three kinds of desktop computers because no single machine can access all the information users may need, he said

OpenNet Plus intends to establish a common infrastructure, according to Burbano.

The program is also driven by other priorities, including the need to boost electronic diplomacy capabilities, the consolidation of foreign affairs agencies, the presidential memoranda for reinventing government, shrinking budgets, keeping up with IT security, and federal mandates to provide services electronically to the public and industry, he said.

Benefits will include a significant cost savings, according to Burbano. Per-seat costs should drop from $5,400 to less than $1,000 as a result of reducing the numbers of desktops and shrinking the infrastructure.

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