DOT: Help us save money

The Transportation Department--to save money--will use virtualization to consolidate virtually every aspect of the department's infrastructure''the whole caboodle,' said Jacquelyn Patillo, DOT's deputy chief information officer. Virtualization will enable DOT to consolidate separate applications and servers in a virtual data center.

Speaking to industry officials today at an Input briefing in Falls Church, Va., Patillo said that, in a time of tight budgets, DOT must find ways to reduce server counts, network complexity and storage volumes and 'regain control of its infrastructure.' Many DOT servers, she said, are underutilitized. Virtualization will help remedy that situation. When the only computers were mainframes, virtualization was called partitioning, she said.

DOT consolidated its e-mail and Microsoft Active Directory a week ago. Next, the department will begin the task of consolidating its desktop PCs, servers and networks, Patillo said. In that process, it will explore the use of thin-client devices to replace desktop PCs. 'I'm not proposing that thin client will be easy,' Patillo said. But some agencies are spending $5,000 to $6,000 a year to maintain each PC that they own, she added.

DOT plans to shift more of its spending on information technology from commodity items such as PCs to more strategic technologies that enable greater innovation, she said. 'We have to find a way to shift costs from the commodity side of IT to the strategic side.'

Too many large IT systems programs 'under-perform relative to their expected benefits,' Patillo said. Industry can help DOT fix that problem by helping department officials structure contracts differently and 'by breaking big contracts into smaller chunks,' she said. 'We need industry to help us in crafting our contracts to take us to these incremental goals.'

Patillo said her immediate priorities are completing DOT's move to a new location in southeast Washington, D.C., and improving the department's information security.

DOT has barely enough money to move its headquarters to its new location in the Southeast Federal Center in Washington, D.C., she said. 'We did not get money appropriated that we needed to move into the new building."

Patillo, who has been in her new position for about four months, mentioned her former boss in her opening remarks. 'I was told by Dan Matthews to tell you there's a new sheriff in town.' Matthew, DOT's former CIO, took a private-sector job last December.

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