EDS post signals more fed/state cooperation

A top federal systems integrator's appointment last month of a former federal chief information officer to its state and local division shows that the information technology industry recognizes that governments are beginning to find ways to integrate federal, state and local government operations, experts say.

Electronic Data Systems Corp. named Anne Reed, currently managing director for EDS' Government Global Industry Group, to lead its recently reorganized State and Local Government Business group. Reed, former CIO at the Agriculture Department, joined the Government Global Industry Group last year.

"We did see a real synergy in what's happening in the federal sector and what's happening in the state and local communities," said Reed, who worked with county governments while she was with the USDA. "I think it was a natural evolution."

Historically, there's been a reluctance of the federal and state governments to interact, she said. But the Year 2000 problem demonstrated a "recognition of the real value of collaboration," she added.

Reed said recent examples of federal/state collaboration include New Jersey CIO Wendy Rayner serving as the National Association of State Chief Information Officers' liaison to the federal CIO Council and the appointment of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge to head the White House Office of Homeland Security.

Reed's appointment indicates that industry and all levels of government realize they need to have a greater degree of coordination, said Alan Balutis, executive director of the Federation of Government Information Processing Councils and its Industry Advisory Council.

Governments have begun to develop a more customer-centric point of view whether with citizens or businesses, "and that means a degree of seamlessness across local, state and federal governments," Balutis said. He cited the Government Without Boundaries pilot proj.ect, in which the federal government, along with select state and local governments, is creating a virtual pool of online information and services.

Balutis added that governments are interacting for "tactical and financial reasons." Because citizens feel closer to their local governments and progressively more distant from state and federal governments, greater cooperation would spur support for initiatives and projects. "That means building from the bottom up," he said.

Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, public-sector officials have called for greater information sharing among federal, state and local governments, particularly in the security and public safety areas. Although Sept. 11 underscored the importance of better government interoperability, Reed said it did not spur EDS' decision to select her to lead the state and local sector.

In the near future, Reed expects that state and local governments will focus on homeland security, public safety and law enforcement, noting "that's where the public's attention is, that's where the governors' attentions are."

She also said that EDS is focused on enterprise solutions.

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