Cooper: Homeland Security spending should pick up in June

It will be at least June before the new Homeland Security Department is in a position to begin spending money on new information technology initiatives, according to Steve Cooper, chief information officer for the department.

Between now and then, the agency is conducting a comprehensive inventory of all the IT elements in place in the 22 agencies that were transferred into it March 1, Cooper said.

The inventory includes not only hardware, software and telecommunications, but also manpower, contract vehicles and license agreements, he said. The goal is to have the inventory complete by June.

"We need to identify where we have gaps, and where we have overlapping vehicles, we will rationalize," Cooper said.

Cooper, joined by representatives from four major agencies in Homeland Security, spoke last night before an audience of IT industry executives at an event hosted by the Association for Federal Information Resources Management.

Cooper said right now, the department has very little money for IT projects. "I've been told there's money; I have no clue where it is," he said. "There was $125 million authorized by Congress and [the Office of Management and Budget] to stand up the department. ... IT is 50 percent to 60 percent of that $125 million. I haven't figured out where it went, but it's going rapidly."

Tapping into the resources of the 22 agencies is a possibility once the inventory is complete, he said, but it can only be done if the agencies' individual missions are not harmed by the diversion.

Homeland Security has released its first request for information for IT portfolio management, Cooper said. Others are to be released within the next 45 days on capital planning and investment and program management. These will not be big-ticket items, he said, but "they will provide opportunities for new suppliers ... in new spaces."

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