PDAs replace portable PCs

I read with interest your article about the expanding capacity of personal digital assistants and the potential applications for PDAs with expanded capacity [GCN, Feb. 5, Page 32].

As an example of how government agencies are
taking advantage of this, my agency, the Inter-American Foundation, recently completed a rollout of the Palm IIIxe from Palm Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., with Palm keyboards and Documents to Go from DataViz Inc. of Trumbull, Conn.

Ours is an information-intensive agency with staff members who travel to some of the more remote regions of the Americas. PDAs offer us the portability and independence from the electric grid that we need.

The addition of Documents to Go lets us take mission-critical subsets of our desktop PC data'Microsoft Word and Excel files'to the field.
We had purchased a small number of notebook PCs several years ago, but they proved too bulky, prone to theft and cumbersome for use in the field.

Now, with the PDAs, we get almost all of the functionality of a notebook for the price of a notebook case. In fact, for the price of one notebook, we outfitted all staff members who travel.

We are looking at integrating the PDAs with our Oracle Corp. database and integrating an expense application with the government's online travel manager. The applications will require, as you noted, additional memory.

Once the capacity is available I would expect to see more agencies moving away from notebooks and toward PDAs. Agencies that do this should realize the significant reduction in cost and increase in efficiency that we are witnessing.

Carlo Dade

Representative for Haiti and the Dominican Republic

Inter-American Foundation

Arlington, Va.

IRS plan is not just a 'reboot'

I could not agree more with your editorial's praise of the skilled and dedicated IRS men and women who maintain the agency's systems year after year [GCN, Feb. 5, Page 20]. Without fail, they do a miraculous job. There are, however, a few points where I find less room for agreement.

The announcement of IRS' Enterprise Architecture 1.0 marked significant progress in the agency's business systems modernization program.

Describing this architecture as merely a 'fresh reboot of the project' is imprecise at best and misses a larger point.

Projects under way during the development of this architecture may require realignment, but that does not mean they're starting over. The projects have been active participants in building Enterprise Architecture 1.0 and along the way have incorporated it into their design and specifications. Where there are gaps or overlaps in some projects because of a reliance on Blueprint '97, the new architecture subsumes and resolves those issues.

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Implying that this architecture is simply a reboot of the program misrepresents the massive scope of the IRS business systems modernization program and the substantive, comprehensive and complex nature of Enterprise Architecture 1.0. Within the scope of this modernization effort, and using a concurrent sequencing model, the need to realign one aspect with another is an anticipated reality.

As a dynamic document, the Enterprise Architecture is designed to accommodate future organizational changes. Although it acknowledges the current four-division structure of the IRS, it is not dependent upon that structure. Instead, the architecture identifies and implements business processes and information technology solutions that are largely independent of organizational structure.

For example, business-operating models reflect our focus on serving customers and the supporting technical architecture incorporates modern, Web-centric technologies. Privacy requirements and security mechanisms also take center stage in the Enterprise Architecture.

Furthermore, Enterprise Architecture 1.0 is not final. It establishes a flexible framework that embraces the infusion of new technologies, business practices and innovation. We expect the architecture to evolve with IRS modernization and will produce updates in the spring and fall of 2001.

We are confident that the IRS approach to enterprise architecture places us on a path to successful modernization of the IRS' IT infrastructure.

Bert M. Concklin

Associate commissioner for business systems modernization



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