E-Gov Spending Boom Ignites State and Local Government<@VM>Bush Pushes Fed CIO, With Funds<@VM>Northrop Grumman Buys Comptek<@VM>Social Security to Explore E-Gov<@VM>NIC to Build San Francisco Portal<@VM>Where the Software Jobs Are<@VM>FAA to Screen Bidders for Nexcom

Spending for e-government over the next five years will rise steadily at an average annual growth rate of 34.5 percent, reports the GartnerGroup Inc. of Stamford, Conn.

"These figures show the rapid trend toward embracing e-government solutions by state and local governments," said Rishi Sood, principal analyst for state and local government at Dataquest, a research arm of the GartnerGroup.

The large expenditures forecasted for Web technology can be attributed to the attention e-government has received from politicians and the media, he said.

Dataquest also asked three groups of respondents ? information systems managers, chief information officers and agency directors ? to predict which government processes will be the first to go online in the next three years. Their predictions, ranging from first to last: procurement, taxes, department of motor vehicles, permits, licenses and voting.

GOP presidential candidate Gov. George W. Bush of Texas is proposing that a governmentwide chief information officer be appointed to accelerate electronic government initiatives.

Bush also wants that government CIO to have an annual budget of $100 million to support interagency e-government projects.

While others have floated the idea of a governmentwide CIO, a sticking point has been what kind of authority and budget the CIO would have. Current and former CIOs have said that without a budget, a governmentwide CIO would have little power.

In a June 9 speech in Philadelphia, Bush criticized the federal government for being left behind by state governments and the private sector in using the Internet and other information technologies to improve services to citizens and customers.

Bush's speech came just a few days after Vice President and Democratic candidate Al Gore called for putting nearly all government services online, creating what he called a national interactive town square and "G-Bay," a site for auctioning surplus government items. Gore also said every American should have a "digital key" to provide secure access to government information and services.Northrop Grumman Corp. of Los Angeles is planning to buy Comptek Research Inc. of Buffalo, N.Y., for $155.6 million in stock.

Comptek brings Northrop $145 million in annual revenue and 1,200 employees with capabilities in electronic battle management, command and control systems and information warfare.

The deal, which was announced June 12, is expected to close in 60 days.

"This acquisition is an excellent fit and enhances our leadership position in advanced battle management and [electronic warfare] systems integration," said Kent Kresa, Northrop Grumman's chairman, president and chief executive.

Also June 12, Northrop Grumman announced it is selling its aerostructures business to the Carlyle Group of Washington for $843 million in cash and securities.The Social Security Administration this summer will test various Internet technologies that could improve its customer service.

Deputy Commissioner William Halter said June 13 that Social Security will work with CommerceNet, a nonprofit consortium of information technology firms, to test the technologies in an agency laboratory. Testing will not use real customers.

"The Internet has tremendous potential to expand and improve customer service at the Social Security Administration," Halter said. "But before we move forward, we must first test these technologies to determine if they are practicable and to ensure that they can be adapted to meet SSA's strict standards for protecting customer privacy."

Technologies to be tested include:

? Instant messaging, which would let customers and Social Security workers type communications in real time.

? Secure e-mail, which would allow customers to send and receive information from their Social Security records in a way that is unreadable by others.

? Voice over Internet protocol, which would let customers talk on the phone with a Social Security worker while using the agency's Web site.

? New software, which would let
agency workers better manage
customer information via the Internet, phone or field office.

CommerceNet participants include Cisco Systems Inc., IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp., Nortel Networks Corp., Siebel Systems Inc. and Unisys Corp.National Information Consortium Inc. announced June 12 it has signed an agreement with the city and county of San Francisco to build and manage an Internet portal for government services and applications.

"This is certainly a strategic win for us," said Ray Coutermarsh, president of NIC Local, based in San Francisco. "If we can succeed in San Francisco and prove that we can bring one of the most sophisticated cities in the world online, we can leverage that experience and expertise in a lot of places."

The agreement between Overland Park, Kan.-based NIC and San Francisco is a two-year pilot project subject to renewal. The portal is expected to launch in July, according to company officials.

The portal is entirely self-funded through convenience fees, and requires no cash investment or appropriations from the local government. Although most information and applications on the portal will be free to the public, approximately 5 percent to 10 percent of the applications will include a convenience fee.The top two metropolitan areas for software development jobs are Boulder/Longmont, Colo., and San Jose, Calif., according to new information from the Washington-based Software & Information Industry Association.

Both areas boast four times the national average of jobs in programming, engineering, systems analysis and technical support, according to the association's analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Rounding out the top 10 are Washington; Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, N.C.; Huntsville, Ala.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; San Francisco;Middlesex/Somerset/
Hunterdon, N.J.; Boston and Austin/San Marcos, Texas.

"Software-related jobs are fueling the economies of metropolitan areas throughout the U.S., not just in Silicon Valley and the Dulles [Va.] Corridor," said Ken Wasch, SIIA president. Thriving bases of high-skilled, high-paying jobs also exist in areas such as Boulder, Huntsville, Des Moines, Iowa, (13th) and Binghamton, N.Y. (17th), he said.The Federal Aviation Administration is seeking to upgrade its communication infrastructure through a pair of contracts, and will soon screen potential bidders.

The Next Generation Air/Ground Communications systems (Nexcom) contracts will be a multistep program to upgrade the air-to-ground infrastructure system to digital mode and provide additional radio spectrum for air traffic control communication, the FAA said.

The first of the two Nexcom programs to be bid will provide a new, multimode, digital radio, which is crucial to the FAA's entire communication system, said Mike Shveda, product lead for the FAA's air-to-ground voice communications. The contract will be awarded in July 2001 and is worth more than $100 million. It is for one year with nine one-year options, Shveda said.

The second contract will provide control equipment to allow the new radio to operate in a digital mode, providing additional spectrum. That deal is to be awarded in July 2003, but Shveda had no details on length and worth of that contract.

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