The devil in the details

Steve LeSueur

President Bush has proposed the most sweeping restructuring of government since the creation of the Defense Department in 1947. More than 20 agencies or parts of agencies are being combined into a single organization to aid in the domestic fight against terrorism.

The challenges will be great. Each agency ? such as the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Customs Service, Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency ? already have their own information technology systems, databases and, above all, their own way of operating.

IT contractors will play a crucial role. Not only will they be maintaining current systems, they'll be helping to pull those systems together, build an agencywide infrastructure and integrate data systems to glean intelligence.

Of course, the new department has to be approved by Congress. Lawmakers who have commented on the proposal have enthusiastically supported the general concept of creating a Homeland Security Department, but ? as is usually the case ? the devil is in the details.

Senior Editor Nick Wakeman, working with the rest of the Washington Technology staff, put together this report on the agencies, contractors and major IT projects that would be affected under this historic reorganization of government.

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