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The International Trade Administration is ending its relationship with in-house technology services. No, the ITA isn’t giving up on technology and going back to pen and paper.
Rather, ITA is trying to focus its IT resources differently, said Joe Paiva, the chief information officer for the International Trade Administration in the Commerce Department.
“We have these bundles of services that we are going to contract with. The first one is what I call core infrastructure-as-a-service. Today if you look at the way you get devices in most government agencies, you order the device, you get the device, someone in the agency configures it, maybe a contractor, maybe government, it doesn’t matter, and then they give it to you,” he said. “The model we are contracting out for is I’m providing the major carriers a list of our 200 offices, the number of people and the number and types of devices at each place. You have a certain number of smart phones, a certain number of tablets and a certain number of Windows-based tablets — and that’s all the devices we have. I’m going to these carriers and say, ‘look there is no more ITA network, and I don’t care if you get bandwidth to these people by smoke signals, mirrors and people standing on roof tops, your job is to make sure each of these people have sufficient bandwidth.’ Now instead of getting devices from me, they will go to a single service portal that we get from a cloud provider, ServiceNow, they will say they need a tablet and a smartphone, their supervisor will approve it and the carrier will drop ship that device directly to their location, completely configured and ready to go.”
Paiva said his office isn’t involved in that exercise at all.
“We are getting out of the network business entirely and out of the end user device business entirely,” he said. “The amount of increase in security, the decrease in cost and the better user experience and service we will get out of that will be amazing.”
Paiva said his experience at the Defense Department, where he spent seven years working in senior level positions focusing on network infrastructure, has given him the roadmap for ITA.
He said ITA’s size lets him put that idea into practice.
A second technology area ITA is giving up control over is print management.
Paiva said ITA is setting up a separate network just for printers that will be completely public and have no attachment to the government. He said it’s part of the carrier contract.
“One of the big companies will put printers in each of our offices,” he said. “Our people when they print, whether it’s from an iPad or Windows tablet, they hit print and it goes to a print cue. They will go to a printer anywhere in the ITA — someday maybe anywhere in Commerce — swipe their proximity card and get their print job. I’m not buying the printer. I’m not maintaining the printer. I’m not leasing it. I’m not paying for a management contract. I pay a very small amount of dollars per month, per user, and so many cents per page, and that’s it.”
The third piece to getting out of the IT business is to take full advantage of Microsoft Office 365.
Paiva said ITA hasn’t been using all the capabilities of the software, such as teleconferencing or SharePoint that currently is hosted on an outside network.
“One of the first things I did is say ‘wait, stop, we paid Microsoft for all that. We’re done, so come back and tell me how quick you are going to shut down our SharePoint servers and get that stuff on Office 365,” he said. “We pay a lot of money just to have people babysit video teleconferencing systems. Office 365 includes that and we have been paying for that for a year-and-a-half. We are going to go out and get the USB microphones that people need and they will use Office 365 for those types of collaboration and the government will not have anything to do with it.”
Paiva said there are several other opportunities on the infrastructure side that needs to be transferred to a provider.
He said ITA’s acquisition strategy isn’t set yet, but he would like to see an request for information coming out and eventually a solicitation. He said the RFI would come out later in the next two months.
“For me, what it comes down to, it doesn’t pass the reasonable person test to believe any federal organization can do networks as good as Verizon, AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile, can do data centers as good as Amazon, Salesforce, Microsoft or Google, to do email as good as Microsoft or Google. That’s insane. It doesn’t even make sense at any level,” he said. “We just have to be open to using those industry services and that’s where we plan to go.”