INTERVIEW: EPA focuses on integration
Edwin A. Levine, acting chief information officer and deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Environmental Information at the Environmental Protection Agency, joined EPA in April after 20 years in the state government information technology trenches.
Edwin A. Levine
Levine spent six years as policy coordinator for the Florida governor's Office of Policy and Budget developing the IT components of the state's strategic planning, budgeting and reporting processes, and reviewing all agency funding requests for IT programs.
Levine holds bachelor's and master's degrees in political science from Florida State University.
He recently spoke to GCN about how EPA is faring under its restructured IT administration.
Who's In Charge
Margaret N. Schneider
Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Environmental Information
Deputy Assistant Administrator and
Acting Chief Information Officer
Director, Office of Information Collection
Deputy Director, Office of Information
Director, Office of Technology, Operations and Planning
Deputy Director, Office of Technology, Operations and Planning
Director, Office of Information Analysis and Access
Acting Deputy Director, Office of Information Analysis and Access
Director, Office of Planning, Resources and Outreach
Associate Director, Office of Planning, Resources and Outreach
(in millions, fiscal 1999)
|Lockheed Martin Corp.||$65.1|
|Science Applications International |
|Roy F. Weston Inc.||$20.2|
|Computer Based Systems Inc.||$14.7|
|Network Management Inc.||$12.3|
|FEV Engine Technology Inc.||$5.9|
|Southwest Research Institute||$5.2|
Sources for this GCN Snapshot
include the Environmental Protection Agency and Input of Chantilly, Va.
LEVINE: The restructuring process has worked out quite well. When EPA made the decision to create a new organization'the Office of Environmental Information'there was a perception on the part of senior management that the information technology function wasn't enabling the integration of major EPA functions.
EPA's Web site includes pages especially for teachers, kids ages 5-12 and older students. The page for younger children, at www.epa.gov/kids, above, features cartoons that encourage kids to click for environmental information and includes links to a clubhouse with games and art contributed by young visitors. Another page, www.epa.gov/teachers, links teachers to information about cirriculum resources, conferences and grants. Older students can get details on scholarships, careers and internships at www.epa.gov/students/.
One of the nice things about what is happening now at EPA is that OEI has a group of folks who are very sophisticated policy analysts.
OEI really has already played a major role in developing some initiatives and working in policy areas. For example, we are saying about public-key infrastructure or electronic signature that it's not enough to have the technology'you have to have the policy base. You absolutely have to have the kind of rule and regulation that allows you to take advantage of the technology to do things differently, not simply to do the same things faster.
One of the most important things that OEI does'and I get to do as interim CIO'is go through a review of our IT portfolio. What we're doing at the moment is developing an understanding of what infrastructure model is appropriate for EPA, how that in turn will drive our assessment of the portfolio, and how OEI can provide the infrastructure that will enable the individual parts of EPA to be successful.Long-term goal
We face challenges every day in supporting the business units of EPA. OEI builds and maintains that support infrastructure. In the long term we're thinking about how we are going to provide the basis and support for integrating not the legacy systems but the legacy processes.
As part of our National Environmental Exchange Network initiative, we are working with our state partners to enable less burdensome and more efficient delivery of information to EPA. Another major part of the initiative is our facility registration system.
Another part that I am most excited about is that we're working with the states to develop standards.
After information integration, the No. 2 thing on our list is security. In many respects, much of what the General Accounting Office report documented was information that we were starting to respond to [GCN, March 6, Page 1
]. We took their findings seriously and we have worked very hard to respond.
One of the things that we've done a much better job on is access control, but I say this recognizing that in the report card that was issued by Rep. Steve Horn (R-Calif.) we received a D-minus [GCN, Sept. 25, Page 1
]. We think that may have been a little harsh, because we've made tremendous progress.
Customer expectations are being set not by government but by the external world, by travelocity.com
. Those expectations will soon come home to us as well.
At EPA, we're working to understand how we can prepare for and support an information-enabled government in which it is possible for people to interact with us for information and services.
The Environmental Protection Agency's new Office of Environmental Information, established last year, has four units that together are guiding EPA's efforts to boost data integration and management. OIE's goals include strengthening partnerships with other government agencies and private organizations; improving the quality of environmental information; promoting decision-making based on EPA-evaluated data; and improving the information infrastructure.
Office of Information Collection'Gathering and sharing environmental data is a key function of EPA. OIC develops and implement new data collection policies and services, and promotes the efficient data dissemination.
Office of Technology, Operations and Planning'Charged with organizing strategic planning for information technology and security, OTOP sets hardware, software and telecommunications standards, and operates the agency's IT infrastructure.
Office of Information Analysis and Access'OIAA develops policies for data analyses and interpretation, as well as responsible use and release of data. The office assesses the suitability of data for various purposes, manages the agency's electronic systems and houses the Toxics Release Inventory program.
Office of Planning, Resources and Outreach'In addition to managing communications programs, the staff ensures implementation of OEI policies and procedures, and promotes sound planning and resource management.