Doing Business With the U.S. Secret Service

General info: U.S. Secret Service<@VM>The CIO file: Bob Buchanan

Things to note

I like it when it's easy to find a "work with us" section on an agency's Web site. The Secret Service has it listed right on the homepage under "Business Opportunities" (www.secretservice.gov/proc/). Once there, you'll be impressed with all the information offered you. I really like the "Procurement Virtual Library" (www.secretservice.gov/proc/jump.htm). Be sure to check this out.

Under the Patriot Act, the Secret Service's role in investigating fraud and related activity involving computers was expanded. The service was authorized to create a national electronic crimes task force to aid in detecting and stopping computer-based crime.

The Secret Service's first job was to suppress counterfeit currency. In 1867, "detecting persons perpetrating frauds against the government" was added, which led to investigations of non-conforming distillers, smugglers and mail robbers, among others. Protecting the president began as a part-time job in 1894 for President Cleveland, and became a full-time gig in 1902 after the assassination of President McKinley. For more history, go to www.secretservice.gov/history.shtml.

Top contractors

3rd Ring

A&T Corp.

ASAP Software Express Inc.

AVR Enterprises Inc.

BearingPoint Inc.

Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.

CDW Computer Centers Inc.

Dell Inc.

Digital Receiver Technology Inc.

Force3 Inc.

GTSI Corp.

HMR Tech LLC

ITS Services Inc.

Jatom Systems Inc.

KPMG LLP

Lucent Technologies Inc.

Motorola Inc.

Northrop Grumman Corp.

Oracle Corp.

Paradigm Solutions Corp.

PC Connection, Inc

Planetgov Inc.

Presidio Corp.

Reed Elsevier Inc.

Skytek Inc.

Sunturn Inc.

Technica Corp.

Worldcom Inc.

Source: Input Inc.

U.S. Secret Service

245 Murray Drive,

Building 410

Washington, DC 20223

(202) 406-8000

www.secretservice.gov

Founded: July 5, 1865

Director: W. Ralph Basham

Employees: 5,000

What it does: The Secret Service protects the president, vice president, their families, heads of state and designated others and investigates threats against them. It also protects certain buildings in Washington and manages security for so-called National Special Security Events. The service investigates counterfeiting, various financial crimes including identity theft and computer fraud, and computer-based attacks on U.S. financial, banking and telecommunications infrastructure.

Major components: The Secret Service became part of the Homeland Security Department March 1, 2003. It had been part of the Treasury Department since 1865. It has agents in approximately 125 offices throughout the United States and in certain foreign cities.

Number crunching:

2005 budget request: $1.4 billion

2004 budget: $1.3 billion

2003 budget: $1.3 billion

Bob Buchanan

Full title: Chief information officer and chief of the Information Resources Management Division

Took the Job: March 2002

Hometown: New Castle, Pa.

Home now: Fredericksburg, Va.

Family: Single; three sons, Bob; Scott, a Marine officer in Iraq, and Eric, a senior at Mary Washington College

Hobbies: "IT is my life, but I enjoy old cars, reading, running, sports."

Last book read: "How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It," by Arthur Herman

Alma Mater: Bachelor's degree from Mary Washington College, master's degree in business administration and information systems from Strayer University

WT: How has technology changed what your agency does and how it does it?

Buchanan: The Secret Service has two primary missions: protection and investigations. Both require significant degrees of IT support. The special agents providing protection require continuous communications, 24x7, in the form of land mobile radio, cellular, paging and network connectivity.

Agents performing investigations require much of the same, plus access to criminal case files. Both groups need reliable access to Secret Service and other federal, state and local databases.

Like all other government agencies, the service has moved in a relatively short period of time from exchanging data via fax machines, to teletypes, to PCs with LANs, WANS, and MANs, and [for communicating] using only radios to cellular telephones, two-way pagers and PDAs.

Information sharing with entities at all levels of government always has been a strength of the service, because of our need to work closely with them. We continue to embrace technologies that have proven they're the best of breed.

WT: What are your biggest tech issues at the moment? Wireless? Patch management? Security?, etc.

Buchanan: Our major technology issue today is our integration with the Department of Homeland Security. We are working closely with the DHS chief information officer to ensure we provide superb IT support to the Secret Service's mission, while ensuring we integrate smoothly with DHS.

I have dozens of my best IT employees working almost continually with DHS, covering every area of IT.

Of course, security ? both physical and cyber ? is paramount to the Secret Service, and we are vigilant against intrusions to our networks. We have taken a wait-and-see approach to most wireless offerings. Naturally, we need wireless solutions that can provide writer-to-reader security for our data.

WT: Given what the service does, how big is mobility in the technology products you use?

Buchanan: The majority of our work force is special agents and uniformed division officers, so we have a very mobile work force. They are on the street doing investigations and providing protection every day.

We support their voice and data IT needs via radio, cellular, paging, videoconferencing and data networks. Again, because our operational security posture is so stringent, our use of totally wireless solutions has been waiting for a FIPS-compliant, National Security Agency approved, totally secure solution.



Buchanan: Of course, we are always looking for best of breed in any category. Our missions do not permit us to be on the bleeding edge, but on the leading edge in most cases. The Secret Service moves at a very fast pace, and we need business partners that can deliver, often in a very short period of time, high-quality products.

For example, we will provide security for several National Special Security Events this summer: the G8 Summit and the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

As we plan and realize we need a particular solution, we have only a few months in which to procure, deliver and implement ? the entire development life cycle is condensed.

WT: For a company that is new to working with your agency and has something to offer you, where is a good place to start? What would you advise them?

Buchanan: The most efficient way for a business to introduce itself is via e-mail, with product information. I always distribute the literature within the service, and if there is interest, then we invite the company in to talk it over and go from there. There is just not enough time in the day to see everyone that wants to do business with us.

WT: A year from now, where do you see the agency's technology capabilities?

Buchanan: We are working toward the Department of Homeland Security's vision of one infrastructure by December 2004, and one network by December 2005.

In addition, we are hoping our friends in the private sector will develop a security solution for wireless, particularly cellular and paging services.

We are also moving toward Gigabit Ethernet and VoIP, and we are transitioning our mainframe applications to a Java/Web-based environment.

On the land mobile radio side of the house, we plan to complete our upgrade of all our systems to narrowband digital in the next year.

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