Commerce unveils plan to remake itself as all-digital department

Commerce unveils plan to remake itself as all-digital department

Karen Hogan says the Digital Department program will turn Commerce into an e-commerce operation.

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

Seven months after announcing plans for a paperless environment and six months after naming a Digital Department director, Commerce Secretary William M. Daley issued the long-awaited details of the program.

Chief information officer Roger Baker and Karen Hogan, the program's director, have until 2002 to transform Commerce into an electronic-commerce operation.

Employees in the secretary's office already have access to a secure intranet with an employee directory, various forms, and information about events and employee benefits.

Under the plan, department staff members throughout Washington will gain access to the intranet by the end of this year. Depending on the department's fiscal 2001 budget, it will make more information available through the intranet.

By 2002, the department plans to give the public access to a Web site from which citizens can download information and forms.

Daley is seeking $6 million in fiscal 2001 to rewire Commerce's headquarters.

Much of the plan will be realized as various bureaus proceed with automating their internal business processes, Commerce officials said.

Bureaus that need administrative systems must develop them under the auspices of the Commerce Information Technology Review Board. The goal is to foster systems that can benefit users departmentwide.

The plan also calls for Commerce to borrow and adapt ideas used successfully by other government agencies.

And Commerce will make 'a commitment to telecommuting,' officials said.

'We face the same security concerns for telecommuters that we have to solve for remote office users,' Hogan said.

Long haul

Part of the move to a digital department includes switching long-haul communications service providers. The plan calls for Commerce by September to use the MCI WorldCom Corp. FTS 2001 contract for its voice and data communications.

Money is the biggest hurdle. In an assessment of factors that could hinder success, the plan noted that administrative systems historically have had difficulty receiving full funding at Commerce.

Daley announced his plans for a paperless department in July. At the time, he challenged Hogan and Baker to complete the plan in 45 days.

They met Daley's challenge and, according to the plan, the department began implementing some of the ideas in August. But Commerce repeatedly postponed release of the plan until this month.


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