HHS' summer fair is all business

The Health and Human Services Department turned the typical IT vendor fair on its head yesterday. Instead of a day-long collection of vendor exhibits for HHS staff to visit, the department set up a collection of booths about its IT activities and programs for vendors to visit.

Representatives from over 200 IT companies attended the reverse IT fair, meeting with CIOs and key technical staff from HHS agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Food and Drug Administration.

For HHS agencies, 'it sure beats vendors calling me every other day,' said Wallace Fung, chief technical officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Fung listened to what vendors are doing, and vendors can see where the opportunities are for them. 'I can also point them to the prime contractor,' Fung said.

The fair gave vendors 'what it can take up to six months to do''get face time with the right point of contact at an agency, said Reed Phillips, a consultant, and previous Commerce Department CIO, who was shepherding three of his client companies among agency appointments.

HHS CIO Melissa Chapman told vendors that IT shops in the department's agencies continue to consolidate IT infrastructure under HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson's OneHHS initiative. 'While some agencies have completed their IT infrastructure consolidation ahead of time, I encourage you to look for opportunities that may come up in the near term that are related to implementing the remaining consolidation initiatives in the department.' Implementing an enterprisewide e-mail application is next, she said.

Chapman also is looking to increase interoperability of business, scientific and regulatory applications across the department and in some cases to eliminate older systems for best of breed systems. 'We are aggressively looking for opportunities to work with other departments in the area of application development integration,' she said.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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