CIOs look to stretch dollars

With a tight governmentwide budget, agencies recognize that they are not likely to get new money to pay for all of their planned information technology improvements, federal chief information officers said Sept. 27.

In view of agencies' priorities for fiscal 2003 — improving their basic IT infrastructure, protecting that infrastructure and enhancing e-government — the big question for officials is "how do we do more with what we currently have, because more isn't coming," said Janet Barnes, CIO at the Office of Personnel Management. She was speaking at a breakfast sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's Bethesda, Md., chapter.

As agencies work on their infrastructures, some of that money will appear as old networks and systems are consolidated and new requirements are merged to meet intra-agency needs.

For example, OPM is consolidating all its application servers and its IT support services. The money freed up in that consolidation will help to pay for new services and programs, such as implementing new security certification and accreditation policies and strengthening disaster recovery, Barnes said.

OPM also is the lead on five of the Bush administration's 24 e-government initiatives, which will support agencies across government but will require new resources from OPM and its partner agencies, Barnes said.

The Energy Department is drawing on the Bush administration's e-government task force method to develop its own 19 "e-government ideas," which will help free up money by consolidating requirements, said Karen Evans, CIO at the department. Energy called on people from all portions of the department to submit ideas for projects and initiatives that could meet requirements across DOE's business lines. Department officials then whittled the list from more than 350 ideas to the final 19.

Those ideas have now become part of Energy's strategic plans, each has short-term and long-term milestones, and they should be released to the public in the next few weeks, Evans said.

The top five ideas — consolidation of the headquarters operations, enhancing the department's Web presence, using electronic signatures for transaction security, developing a corporate repository and e-research and development — are already under way, she said.

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