OMB ponders Air Force's Microsoft setup

The government's top information technology official wants to distribute the Air Force's standardized and securely configured Microsoft software governmentwide.

Karen Evans, director of the Office of Management and Budget's Office of E-Government and IT, approached Air Force officials last month about the idea after they signed two Microsoft consolidation contracts worth $500 million in November to streamline the service's software and support contracts with the company, said John Gilligan, the Air Force's chief information officer.

Evans and Gilligan, who also serves on the CIO Council, think the initiative will improve the security and configuration of Microsoft software governmentwide. She will travel to Redmond, Wash., this week to discuss the idea with the company's officials, he said.

Gilligan said the process could work in three steps:

* Air Force officials receive the standardized and securely configured software from Microsoft.

* Air Force officials forward the Microsoft software to Homeland Security Department officials.

* Homeland Security Department officials distribute the Microsoft software to IT officials in government agencies.

He emphasized the infancy of the initiative. But Gilligan credited Evans for taking a step to improving software standardization, configuration and security government-wide.

"Poor software quality continues to plague us." Gilligan said. He spoke this morning during a breakfast meeting sponsored by the National Business Promotions and Conferences Inc., a company that holds meetings and seminars for government and industry officials.

Air Force officials spend more money patching commercial software than buying it, Gilligan said. "Commercial-off-the-shelf software [is] now mission critical," he said. "We need better quality."

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