Who's In Charge
Chief Information Officer
Ira L. Hobbs
Associate CIO for Cybersecurity
Associate CIO for Telecommunications Services and Operationsr
Gregory L. Parham
Associate CIO for IRM
Kathleen A. Rundle
Associate CIO, National Information Technology Center
William E. Gardner
Senior Policy Advisor, Service Center Implementation
(in millions, June 1999 - March 2000)
|Intelligent Decisions Inc.||38.2|
|Electronic Data Systems Corp.||14.1|
|American management Systems Inc.||13.3|
|Dell Computer Corp.||1.3|
|Premier Members Federal Credit||11.5|
|Kajax Engineering Inc.||7.9|
|Comteq Federal Inc.||5.9|
|Bay State Computers Inc.||5.4|
|Alta systems Inc.||3.6|
IT spending grows steadily
Sources for this GCN Inside include Federal Procurement Data System and Input of Chantilly, Va.
The system lets farmers download and submit some completed and modified forms on the Internet.
The House passed the Freedom to E-File Act last April and required the department to post certain forms within 180 days of enactment. The Senate version of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Peter G. Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) and passed in November 1999, required the department to provide online access to information on farm programs, quarterly trade, and economic and production reports.
'I feel proud that we were able to provide a mainline agricultural support program for farmers and met the deadline,' said Joseph Leo, USDA's chief information officer.
Greg Carnill, electronic-business executive at the department, said, 'Considering the sheer size and scope of the program and that we met the deadline makes it a significant step forward toward an ultimate e-government.'
The Farm Service Agency, Rural Development and Natural Resources Conservation Service, which were specifically affected by the legislation, worked together to make the transition from paper to Web forms. Once the Web forms were designed, the agencies had to get clearance from the Office of Management and Budget before they were posted. The forms commonly used by the agencies' customers are available at www.sc.egov.usda.gov.
Under the Freedom to E-File Act, the department will create a fully operational system by 2003 whereby farmers can retrieve and file all relevant forms.
Another USDA step toward e-government was the launch of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's e-permit site last May, Carnill said. For the first time, importers who wish to bring fruit, vegetable or animal products to the United States can look up the requirements on the APHIS Web site, at www.aphis.usda.gov, and submit their applications online. Importers can also track the progress of their applications online, and renew or amend existing permits.
Tribulations and trials
Along with those successes, the department faced some problems, too. A critical challenge was recruiting and retaining a skilled information technology work force. The department has been experiencing a loss of skilled IT employees through retirement, buy-outs and increased recruitment from the private sector.
'It's clear to us that the IT force is critical and we have been looking into this problem,' Leo said. 'We should not forget that a pay raise will definitely help retain people.'
USDA also launched a study of its IT work force last year with the help of Deputy CIO Ira Hobbs, who is also co-chair of the CIO IT Workforce Challenge Committee. The study analyzed the reasons IT professionals were leaving the department, the current situation and trends.
'There are no major warning signals,' Leo said, adding that Agriculture officials expect 2001 to be a stable year.
Carnill said another problem is Congress issuing mandates on the implementation of new programs without funds.
'We have reduced resources, we are working on old systems and at the same time, we are making transitions from the old to new systems,' he said.