IT capital plan guides spending

IT capital plan guides spending

The State Department's information technology capital planning process, established nearly a year ago, has already proved successful, chief information officer Fernando Burbano says.

The process has been used to oversee several programs, including ideas for the department's fledgling Overseas Presence Advisory Panel project, he said.

The process begins with two separate groups that have equal veto power, Burbano said.

The State Technical Review Advisory Group screens projects for technical feasibility, risk and compliance with security standards, then recommends changes or technical refinements and ranks projects based on need, Burbano said.

The Management Review Advisory Group studies IT projects to make sure they meet the agency's business requirements and are cost effective, then ranks proposals based on what is needed on the business side of the agency, Burbano said.

A group with members from the department's technical and management offices resolves differences between the advisory panels' findings and then forwards project plans to the State Information Technology Program Board.

The board approves strategic plans and budget requests, reviews capital improvement plans and procedures, and allocates funds for projects, said Burbano, the board's deputy chairman.

•'To fill vacant IT positions and to keep trained personnel from jumping ship, State is using a variety of incentives.

When Burbano took over as CIO in 1998, between 20 percent and 30 percent of the department's IT positions were vacant. Now, about 10 percent are vacant, he said.

Burbano credited a program that makes investment in IT human resources a priority.

The plan uses recruitment bonuses to attract workers with critical IT skills, then offers incentives to get them to stay, Burbano said.

Roughly 281 IT employees had qualified for $1.9 million in retention bonuses as of January, he said.

Burbano said the plan also helps employees work on their career goals to keep them interested in their jobs.

Administrative promotions and status upgrades have also proved useful in encouraging technology workers to stick around, he said.

The department is using the Web to offer courses and training certifications to workers at remote posts.

•'State is halfway through a program to roll out wireless communications services at its overseas posts.

Wireless comm eliminates dependence on a host nation for services, gives users worldwide contact in emergencies, supports mobile operations and makes relocations of employees easier, Burbano said.

The total expense for the effort will be just over $57,000, Burbano said.

Ultimately, State plans to provide wireless services to users at more than 291 overseas sites.

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