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Silicon Valley Hopes to Gain More U.S. Contracts

The E-Government initiative chief says there is a plan to increase high-tech spending.

February 12, 2003|Joseph Menn | Times Staff Writer

The head of a new effort to streamline federal government procurement came to Silicon Valley on Tuesday with encouraging news and the promise of an open checkbook.

Mark Forman, leader of the newly created office of E-Government, told a room of hopeful high-tech executives that the Bush administration plans to boost spending on information technology hardware, software and services to $58.3 billion in the fiscal year that starts this fall, up 17% from $49.8 billion in fiscal year 2002.

With increased demand for homeland security technology and other high-tech gear, the money is already flowing, Forman said.

"I've seen $200-million contracts [signed], competitively, in two months or less," he told executives at a Santa Clara meeting sponsored by the American Electronics Assn.

The E-Government initiative, which was created in December, also includes simplifying the technology procurement process, streamlining the sprawling network of 22,000 federal Web sites and making the government more responsive to its citizens. Those changes will give Silicon Valley firms more chances to win federal money than before, said Forman, who currently serves as associate director of the Office of Management and Budget.

He also met with executives at Sun Microsystems Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. as part of a regional swing to drum up interest in doing business with the U.S.

Many don't need much persuading. Hundreds turned out to meet Forman on his stops.

"This administration is really focused on making a business case for things, on getting a return on investment. That's great for us," said Borland Software Corp. Chief Executive Dale Fuller.

Revenue from selling programming tools to public agencies has grown substantially in the last few years and accounts for about 10% of Borland's revenue, Fuller said.

He and other Silicon Valley executives said the procurement process is already faster, less subject to political interference and more imaginative than in recent years.

Forman said the government would continue to improve by consolidating purchases by various agencies for hardware and software used in human resources, financial services and account management. He said the effort could save the government as much as 20%.

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