DHS hires SAIC for architecture work

Science Applications International Corp. is leading a team that will help Homeland Security Department officials define the data, application and technical layers of their enterprise architecture. By October, a transition strategy is expected for getting to their "to be" state.

Amy Wheelock, an enterprise architect in the office of the CIO, said the high-level conceptual blueprints define the department's day-to-day mission as well as the data each program collects and the collection technology. That work will lay the foundation for a more detailed enterprise architecture, she said.

DHS picked a team lead by SAIC of San Diego to put together the architecture. Wheelock said SAIC won the five-month, $1.2 million task order in May, beating out five other bidders including Booz Allen Hamilton of McLean, Va., IBM Corp. and three small companies.

DHS used the General Services Administration's Management, Organizational and Business Improvement Services schedule to establish a five-year blanket purchase agreement with SAIC for the work.

"It's hard to prescribe what we want two or three years out, so this lets us define the work we need to do in the short term and see what our needs are as the architecture develops," Wheelock said. "We want to see the products SAIC delivers and where we go from there. We do not anticipate all our architecture work coming from this one contract."

With SAIC's help, officials last month finished defining the department's business lines, such as screening passengers, verifying cargo and responding to emergencies, Wheelock said. Knowing the business lines, SAIC can dig deeper to tailor the transition plan to the target architecture.

"A lot of enterprise architectures have detailed plans, but we don't have time to create one at that level of detail," she said. "But we will have the strategic directions and consolidation principles that CIO Steve Cooper wants to follow. Some areas such as human resources or financial management lend themselves easily to consolidation, while others such as program business systems will be more complicated."

The target architecture, Wheelock said, will incorporate the business lines and the activities that support them. The transition plan will detail which systems should be kept, modified or turned off.

"The work SAIC is doing is the planning for the rest of what we have to do," Wheelock said, adding that the Office of Management and Budget and the General Accounting Office "are looking for us to get this together. We are beginning to get concrete things in place to work from."

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