DHS plans for IT address mission, infrastructure

The Homeland Security Department still has its work cut out for itself to become a single functioning entity, but the DHS CIO Council has set its priorities for the year ahead.

According to a panel of six DHS CIOs, the "Five for '05" priorities include continuing to merge 22 government agencies into a single department. The panel spoke Nov. 4 to an industry audience in Northern Virginia.

Charles Armstrong, chief information officer of the Border and Transportation Security Directorate, said much of the year has been spent "pulling the pieces apart and gluing them back together."

Coordinating information sharing across the department and with other agencies is part of that reassembly process, he said, including pursuing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission to coordinate screening and targeting efforts.

Within the agencies that comprise the Border and Transportation Security Directorate, Customs and Border Protection has several programs that are priorities in the upcoming year. Rod McDonald, the CBP CIO, singled out the America Shield Initiative. This is the project to expand the use of remote sensors and video technologies along the U.S. borders. There will be "significant procurement activities" for this project, McDonald said.

To address cargo security, he said, CBP is moving to replace the current cargo screening system with the Automated Commercial Environment program, which will emphasize the advance capture and screening of suspicious containers.

The Transportation Security Administration is still focused on infrastructure protection, according to Dave Secori, that agency's CIO. TSA is trying to place the same screening technologies in all airports, he said, and to develop a model of what secure airports should look like in the future.

Tarrazzia Martin, CIO for Citizen and Immigration Services, said her agency is planning to release a request for proposals in the near future for a data mining project related to fraud protection.

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