Administration plan calls for merging IT agencies

Federal and Virginia officials last week detailed some key IT initiatives at the Commonwealth of Virginia IT Symposium 2003 in Roanoke, Va.

Undersecretary of Commerce for technology Phillip J. Bond said the Bush administration wants 'converged policy-making' to foster innovation and will use the bully pulpit to make it happen.

Bond said Commerce secretary Don Evans will propose legislation to combine agencies that deal with computers and telecommunications, much as agencies were rearranged last year to form the Homeland Security Department.

'States' rules and laws are restricting e-commerce and telemedicine, which could unleash tremendous growth in IT and telecom,' he said. The fiscal 2004 budget earmarks $123 billion for relevant R&D and $59 billion for e-government, Bond said.

Big undertaking

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who appeared remotely before the 1,000-person audience as a 3-D hologram courtesy of EDS Corp. and Teleportec of Dallas, said his state's eVA online procurement system recently passed the $1 billion mark, serving up 155,000 transactions for 400 million products from 13,500 vendors, of which 6,400 are small or minority businesses.

The eVA effort so far has saved state taxpayers about 2 percent on procurement costs, he said, citing a former mishmash of buying uniforms from 300 separate contracts.

But the 'monster job' is reforming state IT as a whole. Virginia has 3,000 servers 'with every e-mail system known to man,' pays 94 CIOs to make decisions about IT, and has no common database formats among its school systems, Warner said.

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