State awards info-sharing pilot program

The State Department announced Feb. 27 that it has awarded a contract to Accenture to develop a pilot program for a worldwide information-sharing system.

The company will develop a 20-week pilot project that will be launched in India and Mexico later this year.

Congress has appropriated $17 million for the first two phases of State's information-sharing initiative — a prototype and the pilot. The prototype was completed in January, under a contract awarded to Accenture, Science Applications International Corp. and SRA International Inc., with IBM Global Services enlisted to lead the development effort.

Technology experts estimate that it will cost less than $200 million to fully implement the project, known as the Overseas Presence Interagency Collaboration/ Knowledge Management System.

The system would take advantage of existing information scattered in various databases but not tied together in a single network. Linking those databases would offer embassy officials a wealth of information to consider when doing a background check on a visa applicant or communicating for other purposes.

Testifying Feb. 25 before a congressional committee, State's chief information officer, Fernando Burbano, said the department is putting in place "networks, systems and desktop tools that our diplomats and analysts need."

"The department is helping to facilitate the creation of common classified and unclassified technology platforms to connect U.S. government personnel overseas with one another, with their local and international counterparts, and with Washington," Burbano told the House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement Policy subcommittee.

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