People key to portal process

AFCEA Bethesda Chapter

Speaking at an Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association function, representatives of several civilian and defense agencies said that internal and external usage of their portals is increasing because of their focus on serving customers, and one said that future success won't depend on technology.

Jimmy Stricklin, Web services director for the Internal Revenue Service, said technology was the easy part when the IRS rolled out its public, registered and employee portals. It's people who make the process difficult, he added.

"[Technology's] not going to deliver your success; people are going to deliver it," he told attendees at an AFCEA Bethesda, Md., chapter presentation April 23. He said you need leadership, partnership and ownership infused into the process, and that means bringing in key people and empowering them to make decisions.

All speakers said they're beginning to develop more interactive applications in a response to requests from constituents to make the portal more useful.

Capt. Brian Kelly, program manager for the Defense Department's Tricare Online, said the portal is being deployed in stages to provide secure, interactive health care services and information for 8.7 million beneficiaries and 140,000 health care providers across 50 states and 80 countries.

"You can't do a 'big bang' transition," he said. Following feedback from customers, Tricare is gradually bringing on applications such as physician access to pre- and post-deployment physicals, Web-based refills and appointment reminders, referrals, and secure e-mail.

Kelly said Tricare officials realized they were spending too much money trying to integrate applications that had been developed at different times. He said they're trying to streamline that process by focusing on integration during development, rather than afterward.

Other portals presented during the discussion include the U.S. Army's portal and the Department of Homeland Security's DisasterHelp.gov portal.

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