Va. re-examines IT policy

Virginia Information Technologies Agency

Virginia's information technology consolidation is on track to meet officials' January 2005 deadline, but governance reforms must continue if agency officials are going to provide government services the way citizens want them, Lemuel Stewart, the state's chief information officer, said today.

Working under a 2003 state law, the consolidation of IT functions performed by 90 state organizations into the central Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) involves more than simply bringing together people and servers. The governance process that officials have been putting in place focuses on mission, strategy and value, and that requires sharing resources and services like never before, Stewart said.

"The opportunities are in the business redesign process," he said at a breakfast sponsored by market research firm Input. "It's about going out and actually changing the business process, not just putting in a piece of technology and using it for the same thing we've been doing for 20 to 30 years."

As of Oct. 1, statewide IT consolidation had reduced spending by more than $30 million in fiscal 2004, including $16.5 million from direct cost cuts and $15.7 million through new practices, Stewart said. Virginia technology officials expect to save $26.1 million in fiscal 2005 through cost cutting, and $25.1 million because of better practices.

State officials have started six enterprise initiatives in the past few months to provide statewide services and infrastructure. The federal government has developed similar enterprise IT efforts, including 24 cross-agency initiatives and six service-based initiatives.

In Virginia, the first enterprise initiatives are:

* Learning Management System, a Web-based system for training and development led by the state's Department of Human Resource Management.

* Statewide Alert Network for state, local and federal first responders and emergency personnel.

* Enterprise geographic information systems, initially meant to be used in a statewide repository for geospatial information currently duplicated across 18 state agencies. Ultimately, the initiative will support other applications such as real-time emergency response data and relocation information for individuals, Stewart said.

* Government-to-government enterprise systems interface, middleware to provide local caseworkers and governments with one point of access for multiple systems. Officials have an interim government-to-government system expected to go live this December or January 2005, but as state officials develop new systems, they will have to include a standard interface, Stewart said.

* E-mail consolidation of 12 systems in place across state agencies.

* Enterprise licensing of common applications.

Under the governance process laid out in the 2003 law, VITA and the state CIO report to the Information Technology Investment Board, which is made up of two government officials — including the Virginia secretary of technology, who is the administration's policy leader — and eight private-sector representatives.

The state CIO is also on a five-year contract with the board to ensure continuity across political administrations. Last month, Eugene Huang stepped up into the secretary position to replace George Newstrom, who had come in with Gov. Mark Warner.

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