Technology center given Jan. deadline to shape up Troubled agency warned by state

November 06, 1993|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,Staff Writer

The state Department of Economic and Employment Development told the board of the National Information Technology Center yesterday that if the quasi-public agency isn't on track by the time the General Assembly convenes in January, the state will pull the plug.

Mitchell Horowitz, technology adviser to DEED Secretary Mark Wasserman, delivered the message to a well-attended board meeting at the center's headquarters in Rockville. The board had gathered to chart a new course after a staff purge last month that left the NITC with only one employee.

"It's a turnaround situation. Everyone's aware of it," said Mr. Horowitz. "They have to get NITC on firm fiscal footing."

He said the state was committed to promoting advanced information technologies, but not necessarily with NITC as its vehicle.

The state has poured about $2million into the center, which was set up to help promote Maryland's information technology industry. State officials have criticized the center for failing to establish strong ties with Maryland-based technology companies, for failing to raise sufficient funds from private sources and for a top-heavy management.

Dr. Paul Schenck, acting chairman, said yesterday that the board was determined to "get things back together" at the center, which held a celebratory open house six months ago.

The board's executive committee met in executive session before the full board meeting yesterday, but Dr. Schenck said there would be no announcement about the leadership of the organization until next week.

Michael Walter, the center's president, did not attend yesterday's meeting, Mr. Horowitz said. With the state demanding drastic management changes and Dr. Schenck in effective control, Mr. Walter's ouster is apparently imminent. Mr. Walter had no comment yesterday.

Dr. Schenck said the center will continue to operate with the help of consultants until it can attract enough business to justify hiring staff members.

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