Letters to the Editor

Thank you for the article, “LAN project forces agency, vendor to meet in
middle” [GCN, March 8, Page 8].
It draws attention to the massive, successful technology transformation that the Social
Security Administration is undertaking as part of the Intelligent Workstation/LAN
contract.


Your story, like past articles you have run on IWS/LAN, focused on PC pricing. While
this is interesting, you’re missing the big picture: IWS/LAN is one of the largest,
most ambitious information technology modernization efforts ever undertaken in the federal
government, and it will have a tremendous impact on SSA’s ability to continue
providing cost-effective and efficient services to citizens.


In 1995, SSA faced the pending issue of increased beneficiaries, applicants and
workload demands caused in part by the future retirement of the baby boom generation.


However, the agency’s ability to provide expanded services was limited by outdated
information technology and declining staff resources.


The following year, SSA embarked on the IWS/LAN program. It involves the integration of
56,500 PCs running Microsoft Windows NT and 1,742 LANs in state Disability Determination
Services offices and 1,300 SSA field offices. Added to that is extensive training for all
users, many of whom previously were using dumb terminals.


Today, thanks to a very aggressive schedule that involved the installation of 75 LANs
per week, that program is on cost and on track to be completed in mid-May.


All this was accomplished without interrupting the operations of 65,000 SSA employees
who every day handle 250,000 phone calls, process 20 million real-time transactions and
transfer some 3 billion bytes of data.


The team at SSA has accomplished in three years what many people in government said
couldn’t be done—an on-budget, on-schedule, major IT overhaul that was completed
without disrupting services to the citizens.


T. J. Miller
Vice president and general manager
Information Technology Solutions
Unisys Federal Systems
McLean, Va.


In reference to the story, “CIO Council proposes PC personal use policy for
feds” [GCN, March 29, Page 1]:
My own agency recently handed me my head for allowing family members to access Web
sites—car stereo equipment-related—from a government PC. This access was
supervised and done in my capacity as a systems administrator and LAN security officer.
This use of a government computer did not interfere with any government use of the machine
and did not create any security concerns.


After years of above-average performance and despite accolades from my peers as being
the best systems administrator in my agency division, I was relieved of my duties, locked
out of my duty office, escorted from the premises and told not to return. In the interim I
have been detailed for 60 days, detailed another 60 days and reassigned to an office 150
miles from my former duty station and home. I’ll look for work with another agency or
even consider resignation.


There is a huge gap between what our management knows and understands about our
computer systems and what is real and factual. I hope the Chief Information Officers
Council proposal will help clear up some confusion.


Name withheld





 


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