Commerce's digital efforts expected to continue after Daley's departure

Commerce's digital efforts expected to continue after Daley's departure

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

The Commerce Department is expected to continue its move toward a digital environment following the departure of Secretary William M. Daley, who in the past year spearheaded its Digital Department initiative.

Daley's support has become so ingrained within Commerce that it will likely become his legacy, Commerce chief information officer Roger Baker said.

Daley announced June 15 that he would leave the department, probably this month, to become chairman of Vice President Gore's presidential campaign. Tony Coelho last month resigned as campaign chairman.

Gore campaign officials said Daley's expertise in commerce and his work on electronic-government initiatives made him the perfect candidate to oversee Gore's bid for the White House. Gore has made e-government one of his pet campaign issues [GCN, June 19, Page 6].

Through the Digital Department initiative, Commerce in the past few months began to move all possible programs to a paperless environment.

Daley said he wants to make the Internet the department's chief communications medium.

During his watch, Commerce also has worked on a $4 billion systems modernization at the National Weather Service and on a public-key infrastructure for Patent and Trademark Office applications.

The Digital Department effort has been done with little funding, Baker said. Basically, Commerce has used a carrot-and-stick approach to get systems personnel to buy into the plan, Baker said.

'I think it will continue to gather steam,' he said. Deputy secretary Robert L. Mallett also is a supporter of the plan, Baker said.

And because the department is doing the project on a shoestring budget, there isn't much money at risk, Baker said.

The biggest threat is from Congress, he said. Recently, lawmakers killed a funding request in the fiscal 2001 budget that would have paid for the rewiring of Commerce's headquarters. Daley had earmarked $6 million for the project [GCN, Feb. 21, Page 8].

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