EPA portal is data's common ground

EPA portal is data's common ground

EPA's Central Data Exchange Implementation Team is overseeing a $100 million project to automate environmental data. Left to right: Heather Case, program analyst; Matt Leopard, program manager; Connie Dwyer, branch chief, central receiving branch; Chris Clark, technical lead; and Jeffrey Wells, project manager.

The Environmental Protection Agency will seek proposals under a $100 million, 7-year task order to support the Central Data Exchange, a Web portal and network for transmitting data between the agency and outside organizations.

The portal will improve communications between states and EPA, which will make environmental reporting easier and more accurate, save $80 million annually and increase the number of EPA services, officials said.

Contract by April

'The Central Data Exchange is going to be a major component of the agency's extranet,' said Connie Dwyer, chief of the central receiving branch of the Office of Environmental Information, which is overseeing development of the CDX and the National Environmental Information Exchange Network.

Members of the CDX development team said that one or more of the 11 prime contractors authorized to bid for task orders under the General Services Administration's Millennia Contract will receive an award by April. The prime contractor could team with subcontractors, the officials said.

CDX forms part of the planned national network of data nodes including, at first, EPA and state environmental agencies. CDX will form EPA's pathway to the national network.

As the network develops, it will progress to more services, such as online ordering, and support customers and partners through functions such as customer relations.

Since 1999, Dwyer's team has been working with the Logistics Management Institute of McLean, Va., which has received contracts amounting to about $10 million to build the CDX kernel, Dwyer said.

So far, the CDX has 3,000 users.

Chris Clark, the technical lead, said the system 'is built to support all the stovepipe [data-gathering systems] that we have now.'

It accepts data from state environmental agencies in several formats including word processing or spreadsheet flat files, Web forms, electronic data interchange files and Extensible Markup Language files.

'The idea is that we can collect these formats from whatever the submitters can handle, and develop a more effective, less burdensome mechanism for reporting'so they can get to the point where they can support the super-high-tech versions,' Clark said.

Project manager Jeffrey Wells described the CDX as a 'Post Office box for the agency. It is going to take in data from the outside, distribute data in-house to the different legacy systems and then eventually take data from those legacy systems and push it back out to wherever it needs to go in states or private industry.'

EPA receives about 90 percent of the data from state agencies, Wells said.

The push to adopt CDX and the national network has been driven largely by states' requests that EPA take over the burden of collecting data.

'Basically they are tired of feeding EPA legacy systems,' Clark said. State environmental agencies that have leapfrogged EPA technology have pressed the agency to build a network in which state agencies will be nodes separate from EPA's.

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