Putting words into action

Information gap sparks reform at State Department

Related Links

"Net diplomacy"

"What we've got here is failure to communicate." That line by actor Strother Martin in the film "Cool Hand Luke" sums up the problems that foreign affairs agencies have traditionally had when it comes to sharing information. But things are set to change— internally and externally—under a pair of programs outlined recently by the State Department's top information technology officer and supported enthusiastically by the department's head, Secretary of State Colin Powell.

An internal State program, OpenNet Plus, will link thousands of State computers to the World Wide Web. "OpenNet Plus will put Internet access to 30,000 desktops that are deployed worldwide that now have intranet only," said Fernando Burbano, State's chief information officer.

Although each overseas location has at least one PC that can access the Web, most workstations cannot. OpenNet Plus will change that, giving employees access from their desktops to the Web and its resources, according to Burbano.

OpenNet Plus is designed to consolidate systems that have been installed over the years and establish a common infrastructure. State officials are frustrated by the need to keep three different desktop computers to access all the information users may need, he said.

Benefits will include a significant cost savings, according to Burbano. Per-seat costs should drop from $5,400 to less than $1,000 by reducing the number of desktops and shrinking the infrastructure. Meanwhile, a new knowledge management-oriented, Web-based system will boost—and radically change—how various government agencies working overseas communicate with each other, Burbano said. He outlined the plan at last month's TeleStrategies Inc.'s Federal Telecom Opportunities for Today and Tomorrow conference in Reston, Va.

The State-sponsored program will link all agencies with an overseas presence and create a single knowledge management and information center that could be accessed by each agency. Pilot programs at embassies in Mexico City and New Delhi are expected to begin in April 2002.

The revolution in how State will manage its communications had its origins in an Overseas Presence Advisory Panel report drafted in the wake of the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. OPAP called the inability of agencies to share information shameful.

Since that report, the panel's recommendations have been the basis of the Internet-based knowledge management platform that will serve U.S. agencies operating overseas, including the Commerce, Agriculture and Defense departments.

Today, agencies and departments communicate with each other in different ways, with some emphasizing e-mail communications and others emphasizing telephones and faxes. Also, each agency now has its own pool of data or knowledge, so even agencies with common areas of interest cannot easily access information they might need, according to Burbano.

The program will create a single information center, giving agencies access to information based on their needs and missions.

The bottom line, Burbano said, is that the system will get the right information to the right people at the right time.

Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting Inc., a firm specializing in the federal technology market, said State's challenge is not so much a technical one. "The challenge is to make it easier to get and share information, and making sure it's sufficiently secure for those [agencies]," he said.

Suss called State's plan "a matured vision of information technology. We've been through years when we purchased technology for technology's sake," he said. "I think in this we see linking technology investments very strongly to the central mission of the department."

Working to make sure the programs get off the ground is Powell, a staunch advocate of IT who has already championed the department's communications plans before Congress.

MORE INFO

A Leader with Clout

Secretary of State Colin Powell understands information technology in

very real ways, said Fernando Burbano, State's chief information officer.

"He does banking online, he uses e- commerce," Burbano said.

Burbano briefed Powell Feb. 22 on State's knowledge management plans,

including OpenNet Plus, and he said Powell fully supports the initiatives.

And Powell's sterling reputation on Capitol Hill should help State win

funding for department initiatives.

"He's going to have a lot of credibility," said Arnold Burns, a longtime

friend and associate of Powell's and now managing director of Arnhold &

S. Bleichroeder Inc., a New York-based international banking firm.

NEXT STORY: Digitized force to face cyberwar

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.