IT to Play Major Role in Justice Reorganization

Attorney General John Ashcroft is proposing the creation of a comprehensive information technology plan as one of the cornerstones of his plan to reorganize the Justice Department.

Development of the plan showing how the department can use IT to support strategic goals and improve information management is one of 10 management initiatives Ashcroft announced Nov. 8.

"We must have information technology from this decade, not from several generations ago," Ashcroft said, "so that we can share intelligence and have the interoperability that a coordinated response to terrorism demands. Major city police departments are better equipped today than is the Justice Department."

The fight against terrorism is now "the first and overriding priority" of the Justice Department, he said.

Bob Cohen, spokesman for the Information Technology Association of America, based in Arlington, Va., said that ITAA backs the increased emphasis on information technology.

"We feel very strongly, particularly in the area of information security, that all agencies need to concentrate additional resources on hardening their systems. Presumably the Justice Department will be focused on both improving their cybercrime programs as well as putting [more resources] to good use in the information security arena," Cohen said.

Among the other goals that Ashcroft set for the reorganization:

* Streamline, eliminate or consolidate duplicative functions, with the intent of achieving 10 percent budget savings that can be redirected toward the counterterrorism mission.

* Reform the FBI, including implementation of recommended reforms of the Strategic Management Council, once the attorney general approves them.

* Restructure the Immigration & Naturalization Service, including the separation of enforcement and service functions.

* Improve departmentwide financial performance, including the implementation of a uniform financial system.

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