States seek blueprint for IT blueprints

A committee of state technology executives is asking for the private sector's

help in developing a model for sharing information across federal, state

and local government.

The effort, what they refer to as an adaptive enterprisewide architecture,

grew out of a 2-year-old program funded by the U.S. Office of Justice Programs.

The Justice Department program was intended to enable law enforcement agencies

in different jurisdictions to exchange data electronically.

But while work on that program continues, states — under pressure to roll

out e-government applications that span government boundaries — are looking

for a more general way to support information sharing.

The information architecture committee of the National Association of State

Information Resource Executives took bids this month for a contract to develop

a template for state and local governments to use when developing IT architectures

— essentially, a blueprint for developing blueprints.

Ideally, if governments build their architectures using the same template,

they will have an easier time making their systems work together, said Gerry

Wethington, chairman of the committee and chief information officer for

Missouri.

The template essentially should incorporate the design principles, technologies

and technical standards "that you ignore at your peril if you want to be

effective at digital government or the national sharing of information,"

Wethington said.

In addition to developing the template, NASIRE will ask the contractor to

work with three states to test it and to work with NASIRE on putting together

workshops across the country to explain the project.

The Justice program, now a subset of the architecture project, will be the

first test case for translating information architectures into actual data

exchanges. But NASIRE plans to expand into other disciplines, such as education,

transportation or health, Wethington said.

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