Administration OKs plan for health programs IT architecture

The Health and Human Services Department has the green light from the President's Management Council to begin work on a Federal Health Architecture that will incorporate multiple agencies' health-care programs.

Melissa Rose Chapman, the department's CIO, said that HHS will lead the effort to find common business functions among the health programs at the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy and Homeland Security.

'We are hoping to take a broader view of the health enterprise architecture,' Chapman said at a Friday breakfast sponsored by the Bethesda chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. 'It will be very exciting in terms of how we take the complex exercise of enterprise architecture and apply it to developing real solutions.'

She used food safety as an example of one line of business where HHS and Agriculture could possibly share systems.

The enterprise architecture initiative is one of several projects HHS is working on, Chapman said.

'The last year has been a whirlwind of change for me and the entire department around IT,' she said. 'We have made tremendous progress around the consolidation of utility aspects of IT.'

On the department front, HHS by the end of September will establish an enterprisewide network, which will consolidate help desk and network support, Chapman said. HHS also will reduce its service centers to six from 50, she said.

HHS plans also to award a contract for an enterprisewide e-mail system that could be implemented by year's end. The department is reviewing comments, which were due June 16, on a draft solicitation.

Another enterprise effort for the department is the merger of its financial systems. 'This is critical to most of government since the HHS [annual budget] is about 24 percent of the entire federal budget,' Chapman said.

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