Homeland Security Department must hit the ground running, Cooper says

The Bush administration seeks to launch the proposed Homeland Security Department with significant IT capabilities, a senior administration official said. Steve Cooper, CIO of the Homeland Security Office, told IT executives Sept. 18 that his office is preparing for the possibility of providing the department with systems it can use from its first day.

Cooper did not commit the administration to a rapid-start plan during his presentation at the business meeting of the Industry Advisory Council yesterday, but hinted broadly at the direction of administration policy.

The proposed department should rapidly deploy a homeland security portal that would provide "the right information to the right people all the time," Cooper said. "The new department must operate in real time all the time."

Cooper said the level of information access the homeland security portal must provide users should depend on what the needed information is for. This would be a shift in the distribution of security knowledge, Cooper said, from an emphasis on the people receiving the information to the role of the information itself. "This is easier to do with unclassified information," he said.

"One of the areas that is going to show up on Day 1 is the intelligence analysis and infrastructure protection capability," Cooper said. The early days of the proposed department will be taken up with implementing a directive for intelligence analysis and applying data fusion technology.

Some of the early capabilities will be simple stuff, Cooper said, such as providing common e-mail access to the proposed department's 170,000 employees?but he then conceded that deploying e-mail immediately would be a "nontrivial" task.

The new department's homeland security portal should guide the flow of work in the agency, Cooper said, including process maps that department employees could review.

One of the first tasks the new department should do is deploy the technology that will identify those on its staff who are experts on various homeland defense matters.

Another important task for the new department should be to adopt collaboration tools such as Microsoft NetMeeting software for document management, Cooper said. That software provides an Internet directory and functions such as whiteboarding, file transfer, program sharing and video- or audioconferencing.


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