Chapman outlines HHS priorities

Departmentwide tech consolidation and a common e-mail system are two of the Department of Health and Human Services' top priorities, according to the agency's chief information officer.

"I encourage you to look for opportunities that may come up in the near term," Melissa Chapman told vendors Tuesday at a tech fair held by HHS. "You know that's code for 'Go to the Web site and look for RFPs.'"

HHS officials expect their technology overhaul will save money and make support services consistent. The project includes merging more than 50 infrastructure service providers into six, combining the department's seven major networks into one and using a central system for e-mail.

"Those are now near-term projects," Chapman said. "We are now on the cusp of realizing those efforts, but that's only the foundation of applying the 'one HHS' vision."

What comes next could be even more important for vendors, she said. This includes increasing the interoperability of the department's systems and focusing on e-government initiatives, particularly the federal health architecture.

Chapman said HHS wants to work with other departments on application development and integration for the federal health architecture, which would include every agency dealing with health care issues. The blueprint would help set standards for reporting and sharing data.

"This is very much framed in terms of health lines of business," Chapman said.

The first part involves health surveillance. Between now and February 2004, HHS officials are examining ways to create a common architecture for health surveillance, said John Teeter, chief information technology architect for CDC

During Tuesday's tech fair, vendors met with representatives from several HHS agencies. "The more you know about HHS, the better you are to being aligned with the services you provide," Chapman said.

Chapman told companies to think about their products can help particular programs.

"We really do listen when you say, 'Hey, we can help you in this specific area,'" she said.

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