How many e-mail systems does an agency need?


Many agencies use a single e-mail messaging system across all departments and offices. That’s not the case at the Agriculture Department, which operates 27 different e-mail systems, USDA Chief Information Officer Christopher Smith told a House Agriculture subcommittee Wednesday.

Only the largest departments within the USDA have modernized and use shared e-mail systems. The other departments and agencies operate as they have for years — separately and without collaboration. Each office is responsible for monitoring and maintaining its own e-mail system, which is time consuming and slows down the USDA’s modernization, Smith said.

This fragmented approach has hampered USDA’s ability to implement and adopt new collaboration technologies that leverage part or the entire e-mail platform to deliver services such as instant and unified messaging [integrated phone and e-mail inbox].”

Smith said his office is working to consolidate those 27 disparate e-mail systems into one coherent e-mail platform, though he didn’t have a timeline for the project’s completion.

What are the e-mail systems like at your office? Is there a reason why your office runs its own e-mail system? Or do you use systems such as Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes?


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  1. Separate email systems are at USDA because in the past lack of resources (money, technical expertise, equipment, etc.) at the Dept. level was always an issue. The separate agencies planned/budgeted for these resources. I guess the Dept. now feels they have the necessary resources to have one email system, which, if successful, will reduce costs and security risks.

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