Forman aims to consolidate systems

Forman aims to consolidate systems

Mark Forman, associate director of the Office of Management and Budget for IT and electronic government, has a plan for unifying government systems but no budget yet.

Forman told an Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association meeting last week that duplicate systems are costing the government billions of dollars.

'The unification concept is simple,' he said. 'Merge together redundant IT infrastructure or redundant organizations.'

'This is the ultimate government IT issue,' Forman said.

The Army has been working to do just that'eliminate stovepipe systems that benefit single organizations'said Jane Maliszewski, director of strategic outreach for the secretary of the Army.

But Forman 'was being fairly general,' she said, because he didn't have a specific plan and didn't mention having any money.

'I'm interested to see substantive things,' Maliszewski said. 'If you don't have the money, you're not going to get anything done.'

Forman said he hopes to get most of the estimated $400 million needed for the project from the President's Management Council, made up of 29 agency chief operating officers. The money would be for initial operating costs in the next 18 to 24 months, he said'the expected lifetime of the interagency task force he heads for OMB.

Forman said he doesn't expect to tap much of the administration's $100 million e-government fund for his unifying project.

The e-gov fund will be allocated to various agencies for 20 e-gov projects approved by the President's Management Council, out of hundreds proposed.

Forman also mentioned supporting the FirstGov.gov portal as the primary entrance to federal information.

Forman called on all agencies represented on the management council to cooperate in sharing systems and consolidating duplicates.

'We have to start acting like a team,' he said.

Karen Cleary Alderman, executive director of the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program, said Forman is going to have to find a way to convince agencies to support his dream both theoretically and financially.

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