Lawmakers: Adopt existing IT to fight terror

ORLANDO, Fla.?Congress is increasingly convinced that commercial software tools are adequate for the data mining and analysis requirements of fighting terrorism and protecting personal data from misuse.

But agencies charged with countering terrorism are slow to evaluate and adopt available tools, said Patrick Murray, staff director and chief counsel for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Although no single magic software bullet exists, agencies don't need to invent one, Murray told systems integrators and technology vendors last night at the Government Solutions Conference sponsored by Gartner Inc. of Stamford, Conn.

"The committee is a huge proponent of moving as much government IT requirement to commercial off-the-shelf [software] as possible," Murray said. "The Homeland Security Department should be evaluating technology solutions, but they're not getting organized fast enough."

He said members of the committee, including chairman Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.), regularly meet with technology vendors who might be able to supply a piece of the antiterror IT puzzle.

A comprehensive data analysis and report toolkit would protect the methods and sources of intelligence gathering, incorporate data standards and include enterprise content management, Murray said. This toolkit would follow rules to make sure users see only data they have rights to see, but it would also indicate if other data exists that the user might want to review after obtaining a court order, he said.

"The chief of police of Detroit doesn't need to know that information came from someone who infiltrated al-Qaida," Murray said.

Murray told the systems integrators to call any of the 20 members of the committee, or their staff people, and that appointments to make the case for a product aren't all that difficult to obtain.

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