Ridge pushes for unified IT systems by year's end

The Homeland Security Department will have integrated IT systems for its multiple agencies by the end of the year, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said today.

The year-old Homeland Security Department is comprised of more than 180,000 employees in 22 agencies, each with its own set of IT systems and servers for everything from accounting and procurement to back-office processing. Coordinating the various systems under a common IT platform to facilitate interoperability and data sharing is one of the department's major challenges in its effort to combat terrorism.

"By the time we get done, we want one of each ? total integration that is flexible and adaptable" by the end of the year, Ridge said at a homeland and global security summit in Washington.

Information technology is one of the department's strategic areas of focus for 2004, Ridge said.

"We must improve [our] information sharing and infrastructure program," he said, adding that by the end of the year, the department will improve the infrastructure network among state and local governments and have interoperable communications and IT equipment.

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