Commerce CIO focuses on security

Improving the security of the Commerce Department's information technology systems remains the top priority for its chief information officer, but he said he's most proud of the department's progress on e-government.

Commerce CIO Tom Pyke said the department, which was involved in e-government applications as early as 1994, held a “Commerce is E-Gov” conference about two weeks ago. He said he challenged colleagues to define e-government first because there really is no good definition.

"E-gov is using IT to serve our customers better," Pyke said.

The department provides direct customer service by selling products, such as environmental data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or economic and demographic data from the Census Bureau, applying for patents at the Patent and Trademark Office, or getting market news.

The department also participates in many of the governmentwide e-government initiatives, such as the Recreation One-Stop, e-rulemaking, Geospatial One-Stop, Disaster Management, Grants.gov, e-travel and Export.gov, which is the federal government's export and trade services Web portal.

Pyke, who spoke today at a breakfast sponsored by the market research firm Input, generally outlined the department’s efforts, initiatives and objectives. He stressed certification and accreditation of IT systems' security as top concerns and described them as works in progress. "We've come from way behind four years ago to keeping up at this point in time," he said.

Greater use of the department's enterprise architecture across its 13 bureaus with different missions is another priority and also managing and reviewing capital IT projects.

Brian Haney, Input's director of research operations, estimated that the Commerce Department’s IT spending will increase from $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2005 to about $1.8 billion in fiscal 2010, or about a 4.4 percent compounded annual growth rate. Market drivers are computer security, e-government, and enterprise architecture and infrastructure integration, including consolidation of redundant systems, use of innovative technologies, document management and IT capital planning.

Haney said Input is forecasting that the department’s top growth areas will be in outsourcing (6.2 percent), software (5.4 percent), communications (4.7 percent), computer systems (4.4 percent), professional services (3.9 percent), and security (3.4 percent). For the fiscal 2006 proposed budget, Commerce is requesting $1.55 billion for its IT budget, which is about 5.8 percent more than the current $1.46 billion budget.

Pyke also rattled off a number of opportunities down the road, including several for the Decennial Census, satellite procurements for NOAA, consolidation of communications networks with NOAA, and an automation system for the Patent and Trademark Office. He added that Commerce Department officials are starting to carefully use wireless computing and will need help in making sure that they are secure.

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