IT Place in Homeland Security Awaits

IT Place in Homeland Security Awaits<@VM>Accelerating Projects<@VM>Who's Who in the Office of Homeland Security<@VM>Adviser Suggests Government-Only Network

James Flyzik

Renato DiPentima

Tom Ridge

Steve Rohleder

The White House will be issuing executive orders in the coming weeks that should bring more insight into information technology's role in the emerging policy of homeland security, according to a high-ranking agency official.

While not commenting on specifics, Treasury Department Chief Information Officer James Flyzik said the executive orders will reveal issues such as programs and policies that will be coordinated, where funding may come from and who will be in charge of what.

A White House spokesman declined comment on the substance or timing of the executive orders.

Meanwhile, agencies are evaluating and assessing what they should do next. Technologies getting the most attention are those involving knowledge management, supply-chain management, datamining and physical and cybersecurity.

For example, the Commerce Department, while not planning to change its IT priorities, is re-examining them to ensure sufficient resources are given to security, said Michael Sade, director for acquisition management for Commerce.

Flyzik also said the CIO Council, of which he is the vice chairman, is planning meetings so CIOs can share their experiences and views on what has happened in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Because most agencies are operating under continuing resolutions and do not yet have their fiscal 2002 budgets approved by Congress, there have been few specific procurements in response to the attacks, agency officials said.

"Right now, with the continuing resolutions, you can't do a whole lot," said Leamon Lee, associate director of administration for the National Institutes of Health. His office manages several large governmentwide contracts, such as CIO Solutions and Partners II, ImageWorld II and the Electronic Computer Store II.

The buildup for America's war on terrorism ? which includes attacks on terrorist and Taliban sites in Afghanistan as well as increasing law enforcement and security procedures at home ? is expected to boost government IT spending by 15 percent, according to the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association.

The industry group, which bases its forecast on budget documents, interviews with government and industry officials and economic modeling, predicts spending will rise from $42.7 billion in fiscal 2001 to $49 billion in fiscal 2002.

The agencies likely to see the most significant boost in spending are the ones at the front lines of the war on terrorism, such as the departments of Defense, Justice, Treasury, Transportation and State, as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the intelligence agencies, said Mary Freeman, who headed GEIA's budget analysis committee. She also is the manager of federal market research for Verizon Communications Inc., New York.Although government officials said they are still reassessing their budgets, industry officials said they have seen an acceleration in the timetables for some ongoing projects that relate to homeland security.

For example, both Northrop Grumman Corp. and WebMethods Inc. were working with the Federal Aviation Administration before Sept. 11 on ways to strengthen airport security, but testing and pilot projects are being moved up, company officials said.

Nearly all agencies are looking to bolster their plans and capabilities for continuing operations and quick recovery from a terrorist attack or other disaster, said Renato DiPentima, president of consulting and systems integration at SRA International Inc., Fairfax, Va.

"We're talking to a lot of our customers about that, and I know my competitors are, too," he said.

Industry and government officials also are closely following the new Office of Homeland Security under former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.

Many government and industry officials said Ridge will have to rely on knowledge management, datamining and financial management tools to fulfill his mission of coordinating and implementing a governmentwide strategy to battle terrorism.

Those types of systems will give Ridge the ability to look into the operations of the more than 40 agencies taking part in America's new war.

"He is going to have to look to technology to reach in and gain insight into all these different agencies and all the different budgets," said Steve Rohleder, managing partner of U.S. government services for Accenture Ltd., Hamilton, Bermuda. Only with insight into agency budgets and operations will Ridge be able to build and manage a governmentwide strategy.

"He has the opportunity to create the first virtual government agency," Rohleder said. Accenture is preparing a white paper that will be delivered to Ridge laying out how such a virtual agency can operate.

Implementing a governmentwide strategy against terrorism will require heavy reliance on technology, so that agencies can share data and coordinate law enforcement, intelligence and emergency response activities.

"If you look at what we knew about these terrorists within 24 hours [of the Sept. 11 attacks], the data was already out there," DiPentima said. The issue now is pulling that information together, creating intelligence and getting it to the right people at the right time, he said.

Ridge also should work on linking federal systems with state and local governments, said Wendy Rayner, CIO for New Jersey.

"There are data elements that can be captured and shared across governments," she said. Rayner is the state representative on the federal CIO Council and plans to push for more state involvement in homeland security.

WebMethods, which develops software that links disparate systems and databases, is talking with several systems integrators about using the company's software in government projects, said Al Fox, director of public-sector operations for the Fairfax, Va., company.

In its FAA project, WebMethods and Centurion Solutions, a public-safety solutions provider in Sewickley, Pa., are working on a pilot to link FAA, Immigration and Naturalization Service and law enforcement systems to strengthen airport security, Fox said.

Another technology area getting attention is supply-chain management and logistics, industry officials said.

Besides helping the Defense Department move supplies, people and equipment, supply-chain management tools can help plan and implement emergency responses, contingency plans and relief efforts, said Jeff Holmes, senior vice president of public-sector business for Manugistics Inc. of Rockville, Md. Manugistics is a maker of supply-chain management software and tools.

The company is working with the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services on how those agencies can help with relief efforts in Afghanistan and the distribution of medical supplies, he said.

"The Defense Department has always been good at this, but [most] civilian agencies haven't," Holmes said. "The interesting thing is that folks are listening."While the final structure of the Office of Homeland Security has not yet been announced, positions are being filled.

Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge has hired Mark Holman, his former chief of staff in Pennsylvania, to hold the same position in the homeland security office.

Carl Buchholz has been hired as special assistant and executive secretariat of the office. Buchholz was a general counsel to the Ridge Leadership Fund and Pennsylvania counsel to the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign.

Buchholz and Holman are former aides of the late Sen. John Heinz of Pennsylvania. Most recently, they were members of the Philadelphia-based law firm Blank Rome Comisky & McCauley LLP.

Also joining Ridge from Pennsylvania is his personal assistant Bob Giles.

Reporting to both Ridge and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice are Richard Clarke, who has taken the new post of special adviser to the president for cyberspace security, and retired Gen. Wayne Downing, who is the national director and deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism.

Ridge's office will have about 100 employees, of which about 90 are being detailed from other agencies.

There also will be a Homeland Security Council comprised of the heads of the departments of Defense, Justice, Health and Human Services, Transportation and Treasury, the FBI, CIA and Federal Emergency Management Agency. Other departments and agencies will be invited to attend meetings as needed.President Bush's cyberspace security adviser is proposing the creation of a government-only communications network as part of a strategy to protect the government's critical IT infrastructure.

Under the direction of Richard Clarke, who serves as the president's special adviser for cyberspace security, the General Services Administration issued a request for information Oct. 10 about the possibility of developing a telecommunications network, to be called GovNet.

The network must be able to operate with no risk of penetration or disruption from users on other networks, such as the Internet. It is planned as a private voice and data network with no connectivity to commercial or public networks, and it will use Internet protocols.

No cost estimates have been released on building such a network.

"Planning for this network has been going on for several months," Clarke said. He wants to base the project's next steps on input the RFI draws from industry.

Companies are being asked to provide information on issues such as the technical feasibility, estimated costs, availability of unused network capacity, schedule estimates and alternatives. Comments are due Nov. 21.

No schedule is set for awarding a contract, but the government wants the network up and running within six months of an award.

Initially, the network will carry data, but voice and video service will be added later. The network will have to support encrypted classified traffic.

The government is not planning to abandon the public Internet, but is seeking to separate critical operations from connections to the Internet that allow cyberattacks to penetrate government operations, according to the RFI.

About the Author

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

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