- The Washington Times - Friday, July 31, 2009

RICHMOND | The state superagency that provides computer and information technology services to every other state agency doesn’t answer to the governor, and it should, Gov. Tim Kaine said Thursday.

Mr. Kaine said he feels most of the failures that have spawned two legislative panels to probe the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) result from its oversight structure and management.

“I hope what the Legislature will do … is come to the conclusion that this agency should report to the governor like every other agency does,” Mr. Kaine said on his monthly radio program on WRVA in Richmond and the Virginia News Network.

VITA, established six years ago, and Northrop Grumman Corp., its partner in a $2.4 billion, 10-year contract, have missed major deadlines in their task of transforming a far-flung patchwork of disparate agency computer systems into an integrated statewide network. Delays in providing service have prompted complaints from state agencies for several years.

The House Science and Technology Committee and a subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee have held hearings on the issue. Also, the Freedom of Information Advisory Council ruled last month that the board that oversees VITA improperly met in private to discuss the Northrop Grumman contract, the largest state contract with a single vendor ever in Virginia.

Mr. Kaine voiced frustration Thursday that the agency through which all other agencies communicate is outside his authority to manage.

“State agencies have felt they have not been well served by the contractor and by VITA, the agency. This is where the structural problem becomes important,” Mr. Kaine said.

He noted that rather than report to the governor, VITA reports to the Information Technology Investment Board, which includes three members appointed by the governor, four named by the Legislature and the secretaries of finance and technology.

“More of the customer service problems have been because of the VITA structure and management than because of the performance of the contractor,” he said.

The issue of Northrop Grumman’s performance was at the heart of the dismissal in June of the former state Chief Information Officer Lemuel Stewart. In that role as overseer of VITA, Mr. Stewart had balked at paying a monthly bill, citing missed deadlines and other complaints.

Mr. Stewart’s interim successor is Leonard Pomata, a former corporate information technology executive whom Mr. Kaine had appointed days earlier as his secretary of technology. Legislators criticized Mr. Pomata’s holding the dual roles as VITA’s overseer and his seat on the governor’s Cabinet.

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