A brave new homeland

<@VM>Major building blocks of an agency

President Bush addressing the nation immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks.

(White House Photo By Eric Draper)

President Bush's proposed Homeland Security Department will rely heavily on data sharing and analysis to combat terrorist threats, and will require a systems infrastructure to support that mission -- a complex integration challenge that already has information technology companies scrambling for a piece of the action.

Bush's proposal pulls together the Coast Guard, Customs Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration and parts of several other agencies.

These agencies already spend more than $2 billion a year on information technology, according to an analysis by the market research firm Input Inc. of Chantilly, Va. How much more will be needed to consolidate their IT systems is unknown.

Bush is asking for $37.5 billion to fund the new department, but said the money will be drawn from the budgets of the consolidated agencies.

One of the chief goals in creating the department is to streamline information sharing among the different agencies responsible for homeland security.

"Right now, we don't have compatible systems for homeland security. All the agencies have different IT budgets," a senior government official said the day of Bush's June 6 announcement.

"It is our hope that as we send special legislation to the Hill, there will be a new IT capability." The official added that the new department's leaders would not have to worry about the platforms used by component agencies if they were merged in a single system.

The business opportunities for systems integrators and other IT companies likely will come in two areas, IT executives said. First is helping the government pull together and make sense of the various pieces being drawn into the new department. Second are the new programs and capabilities created by the combined department to meet its mission.

In the near term, however, industry probably will see a slowdown in new requests for proposals in the first quarter of fiscal 2003, assuming the Homeland Security Department is approved, said David Kay, senior corporate vice president for Science Applications International Corp., San Diego.

The Office of Management and Budget also will likely "slap some restraints" on agencies that try to spend money on new programs before the new Homeland Security Department is up and running, he said.

While there are some aggressive government program managers who will rush to get their projects started before budgets are shifted to the new agency, there also are cautious program managers who will hold off until the agency is up and running, said Ray Bjorklund, vice president of consulting services for market research firm Federal Sources Inc., McLean, Va.

"We probably won't see a lot of impact [on spending] until the second quarter of fiscal 2003," he said.

While there is strong support for the concept behind Bush's proposal on Capitol Hill, the creation of the agency could be contentious. Not counting the subcommittees that will be involved, there are 11 Senate and 11 House committees that oversee the agencies Bush has proposed be combined into the Homeland Security Department.

"You're going to see hearing after hearing," said David Marin, spokesman for Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on technology and procurement policy. "It's going to be exciting."

The difficult task of getting the bill through so many subcommittees has some lawmakers considering creating a special committee on homeland security to help expedite the legislative process for establishing the new department.

"Congress cannot get bogged down in petty jurisdictional fights that would only delay the process," said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., at a June 11 hearing before the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security, veterans affairs and international relations.

Once through Congress, though, the heavy lifting of combining more than 20 organizations that have nearly 170,000 employees will present a daunting systems integration challenge.

It is the same challenge ? how to share data and communicate ? that the agencies currently face.

"Regardless of whether they are part of one agency or standalone, whoever has INS responsibilities will need to communicate with whoever has Customs responsibilities, who'll need to communicate with the State Department or FAA or FBI," said Renato DiPentima, president of consulting and systems integration at SRA International Inc., Fairfax, Va. "All of this is going to require substantial IT."

As the agency comes together, the question will be how does it review and revise policies and procedures, said Ben Gianni, vice president of homeland security for Computer Sciences Corp., El Segundo, Calif.

"The issues are data integration and re-engineering business processes," he said. Ann Altman, managing director of IBM Corp.'s U.S. federal business, said the creation of the new agency is an opportunity to transform the way government operates.

"This is not unlike what the private sector goes through with a major merger and acquisition," Altman said. "These organizations will not be the same organizations forever, but they will become a new organization."

The private sector can provide consulting services, advice on best practices and help in consolidating infrastructures and building new ones, executives said.

Another business opportunity that should not be overlooked is helping the agencies that are giving up pieces of their organizations to the new department, Bjorklund said. These agencies may need to rethink their missions and organizations, he said.

Once established, a core mission for the Homeland Security Department will be collecting, analyzing and disseminating data from a wide variety of sources.

"Information sharing is not a magic answer, but it is a critical piece and a reason why we need to do this department," said Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif. She serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Each agency going into the Homeland Security Department has information systems and databases that will need to be linked, which will create opportunities for creating systems to do data analysis and fusion and pattern recognition, said Alfred Mockett, chairman and chief executive officer of American Management Systems Inc., Fairfax, Va.

The technology exists to combine and share data, but the challenge is defining an enterprise or agencywide view of the systems and a big part of that is culture, said Allan Van Deventer, vice president of secure solutions for Titan Corp., San Diego. "People are sensitive about their data, who owns the data and how their data is used," he said.

Another challenge will be managing and coordinating IT projects that are under way or about to begin. For example, the Customs Service has a $1.5 billion modernization contract held by IBM. The Transportation Security Administration is about to issue an RFP for a $1 billion infrastructure outsourcing project. And INS is under congressional mandate to build an entry-exit visa tracking system for which $380 million has been earmarked.

"It is challenging enough to get agencies to integrate within themselves, let alone to integrate with other agencies," DiPentima said.

Staff Writer Gail Repsher Emery contributed to this story. Coast Guard

Agency head: Adm. Thomas Collins

CIO: Nathaniel Heiner

Number of employees: 43,639

Fiscal 2003 IT budget: $230.3 million

Major contractors: SAIC, Lockheed Martin Corp., Soza and Co., Northrop Grumman Corp., CSC

Major initiatives: Deepwater, a $9.8 billion umbrella program for new vessels and equipment. Awards so far to Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and SAIC.

Customs Service

Agency head: Robert Bonner

CIO: Woody Hall

Number of employees: 21,743

Fiscal 2003 IT budget: $462.4 million

Major contractors: IBM, EG&G Technical Services, PlanetGov, ITS Services

Major projects: IBM holds the $1.5 billion, 10-year Automated Commercial Environment contract to modernize Customs import and export systems.

Federal Emergency

Management Agency

Agency head: Joe Allbaugh

CIO: Ron Miller

Number of employees: 5,135

Fiscal 2003 IT budget: $175.6 million

Major contractors: Dewberry & Davis LLC, Michael Baker Jr. Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T Corp., National Institute of Building Science

Major projects: Hazard Mitigation Technical Assistance Program, Information Technology Support Services contract, Advanced Call Center Technology contract.

Immigration and Naturalization Service

Agency head: James Ziglar

CIO: Scott Hastings

Number of employees: 39,459

Fiscal 2003 IT budget: $481.6 million

Major contractors: Getronics, EDS Corp., Labatt-Anderson Inc.

Major projects: $380 million budgeted for entry-exit visa tracking system. RFP expected in August for $1.2 billion Service Technology Alliance Resources II contract.

Transportation Security Administration

Agency head: John Magaw

CIO: Patrick Schambach

Number of employees: 41,300

Fiscal 2003 IT budget: $700 million

Major contractors: Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin, NCS Pearson, Unitech

Major projects: Training airport security personnel and installing explosives detection systems.
An RFP is pending for $1 billion IT infrastructure outsourcing contract.

Sources: Input, the White House

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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