Alvin M. Pesachowitz


Changing roles strengthen EPA

Alvin M. Pesachowitz, chief information officer at the Environmental Protection Agency, has been with the agency since 1971 and has served in a number of posts. Most recently he has been involved in the major reorganization of the CIO's office into a new information technology unit by Oct. 1. Although Pesachowitz may not be CIO in the new organization, he said he will play a key role in the new office.

Pesachowitz has a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Rutgers University and a master's degree in management from George Washington University. GCN recently talked to Pesachowitz about information technology at EPA.

PESACHOWITZ: There are going to be some interesting changes, and I think it will be for the better. The Environmental Protection Agency will be an agency where the new information office will not only have the information technology and the information policy, but it will have a significant portion of information content as well as information access all under the umbrella of a national program manager for information.

This is a significant effort that will strengthen and improve the position of information management at EPA while still allowing a great degree of decentralization.

The new organization will have more breadth from technology, policy and content, and access standpoints. It will be different from most chief information officer organizations in the federal government.

Our vision for information management comes out of this reorganization: Use information management as a strategic resource in accomplishing the agency's mission. That extends beyond EPA because there are many people who contribute to EPA's environmental mission'delivering the right information at the right time to the right decision-makers. That is the key to this whole new organization.

There are a lot of issues about collecting information. But we also have to provide access to that quality information so people can participate in the decision-making process.

Under the reorganization, we will have a national program manager who will be leading an organization that has three components: collection, technology and access.

There will be a stronger delegation of authority from the central office to the decentralized program offices and regions. That will add some clout to the ability of the new office to manage information policy and oversight.

Quality data

There will also be staff offices dealing with issues such as data quality and IT policy. We have found that the more we provide access to information, the more important the quality of that data. Therefore, that is a critical part of this new organization.

One of the first things that the new organization will undertake is an agencywide information plan to look at our business requirements in terms of how we need to accomplish the agency's mission. We'll then prioritize those requirements and begin to focus on making investments along those requirements on a more holistic manner.

The information plan is one of the organization's early action plans, and we've already started work. In the old days, you might have called it an information strategic plan or an information architecture, but we like to call it an information plan because it's less techie and focuses more on what are the business needs of the organization.

We've done well in supporting our systems and information management in general. But as we look at the Government Performance and Results Act, we need to look at what kinds of outcomes are the real measures of success of our environmental mission.

Major Programs

MOSES Follow-on'Science Applications International Corp. of Arlington, Va., is working on the $264 million follow-on to the Mission Oriented Systems Engineering Support services project for EPA's mission-critical applications. MOSES is used to support the Safe Drinking Water Information System and systems that track toxic waste cleanups.

IT Architecture'EPA has contracted with SRA International Inc. of Arlington, Va., to provide ongoing support services for planning its information technology architecture. The $35 million Information Infrastructure and Architectural Support Contract is designed to create a strategy for designing and buying new IT systems.

National Telecommunications and Computing Services contract'In 1997, EPA awarded the National Telecommunications and Computing Services contract to Lockheed Martin Corp. The $263 million contract is used to manage hardware, software and networks for users in the agency's National Computer Center in Research Triangle Park, N.C., the National Environmental Supercomputing Center in Bay City, Mich., and regional offices.


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