Watch lists, e-mail top Homeland Security Department priorities

Technology projects to be completed at the Department of Homeland Security in the short term include a consolidation of watch lists and departmentwide e-mail and information portals, said Lee Holcomb, director of infostructure for the White House Office of Homeland Security.

The e-mail and portals should be running by Jan. 25, 2003, "day one" of the new department, said Holcomb, who spoke at a homeland security conference in Washington Dec. 10.

"We really want people to view themselves as one," he said.

The 170,000 employees of the new department will all have e-mail addresses ending in .dhs, and Web portals will be live to answer questions about the new department from employees and the public, Holcomb said.

The department wants to consolidate the government's terrorist watch lists while enabling sharing of information amongst all relevant agencies, Holcomb said. The federal government has 14 terrorist databases fed by 55 information streams, he said.

Classified information cannot be made available to all users, Holcomb said, but essential information should be, such as what a database user should do if he or she comes into contact with a known terrorist.

Holcomb said other short-term technology projects include secure videoconferencing to allow federal officials to communicate with state officials and secure Internet access to allow federal law enforcement to communicate with their state and local government counterparts.

Officials have identified myriad technologies that are essential to the new department, Holcomb said. They include:

  • Knowledge management

  • Data mining

  • Authentication

  • Biometrics

  • Geospatial systems

  • Collaboration tools

  • Simulation and modeling

  • Portal technology and

  • Wireless technology

  • While specific performance measures must still be developed, Holcomb said the department's IT-related efforts would be judged on their speed, or near instantaneous dissemination of information; quality, or accuracy and reliability of information; and cost.

    "There are a lot of opportunities for new investments, but we believe there are also substantial opportunities for savings," Holcomb said, as some IT systems and applications can be consolidated in the new department.

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