DHS sets timeline for enterprise portal initiative

Over the next six weeks, the Homeland Security Department will start evaluating technologies and vendor products in preparation for a March request for proposals for its enterprise portal initiative.

Max Ramsay, acting director of information and application delivery in the department's CIO office, said yesterday that the portal will provide some basic technologies or products for the rest of DHS to customize to meet their functional requirements. Ramsay's team will evaluate anything from records management software to smart-identification-card technologies to business intelligence products.

"The initiative is not an attempt to consolidate funding for the portal or mandate a central software development process or give this office a functional administrative responsibility," Ramsay said at a luncheon in Washington sponsored by the Industry Advisory Council of Fairfax, Va. "What we are trying to do is broad and sweeping. Our goal is to provide robust environments for enterprise solutions. It is not an automatic thought that this will result in one big, mega portal."

DHS currently runs more than 150 different Web portals that provide information to state and local governments, contractors and department employees, and a host of specific sites that target certain employees or partners, Ramsay said.

Ramsay added that the portal or multiple portals would provide the underlying environment so DHS bureaus can concentrate on developing the functional capabilities of their systems.

"We are trying to reduce the time that it takes to go from a requirement to implement a system," he said. "We are providing a framework that is appropriate for most things."

Ramsay would not comment on the evaluation process or what products or technologies DHS would consider, but he did say the products must be highly scalable. The evaluation work likely will become part of a solution architecture for the portal project.

Ramsay added that no products or technologies have been chosen, but they must fit into the core requirements that 16 of 22 organizations have submitted to his office.

An executive steering committee will prioritize the bureaus' requirements before the March RFP release, Ramsay said. And the committee would reprioritize them continuously to meet DHS and bureau needs.

DHS plans on making one or possibly more awards in June, Ramsay said, and by August the department would test the first iteration of the portal.

"Our goal is to get something in our employees' hands quickly," he said.

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