HHS to combine networks, e-mail

The Department of Health and Human Services plans to merge e-mail systems, networks and infrastructure services to save money and make tech support more consistent.

Department officials hope to streamline several IT departments, including call centers, commercial, off-the-shelf software support, desktop acquisition and support and network operations, said Melissa Chapman, chief information officer for HHS.

Officials want to merge more than 50 infrastructure service providers into six. The department's five main operating divisions: Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Indian Health Services have merged their tech support units into a single organization. The remaining eight smaller divisions are being combined at the department level.

Health and Human Services is also combining its seven networks into one network, called HHS-Net, that can support applications used across the department, Chapman said.

HHS officials also plan to replace separate e-mail systems with one centrally managed system.

The organization's tech support network is so disparate because it developed gradually on a small scale, Chapman said.

"In HHS, IT started an office at a time, literally," she said. "E-mail cropped up here and there in a disorganized way. Help desk services cropped up similarly across the department."

The department did not have an estimate of how much can be saved through technology consolidation.

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