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Defense strategy stirs questions

One of the big questions about the Pentagon's new "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support" is whether it will increase federal support for information-sharing between military and civilian authorities.

"Does this mean a new source of money for information-sharing IT? That's what everyone wants to know," said a senior IT executive. The 40-page report is a rare view into the Defense Department's evolving approach to civil defense, and it has raised concerns about its adherence to Posse Comitatus Act constraints.

The report does not provide details on funding for specific programs. "Unfortunately the strategy doesn't give clarity," the IT executive said.

IBM seeks Safety Act coverage

Following complaints from Rep. Martin Olav Sabo (D-Minn.) about potential privacy risks in granting Safety Act protections in 2004 for Lockheed Martin Corp.'s risk assessment platform for Capps II, the Transportation Security Administration announced that IBM Corp., the development and operations contractor for Capps II's successor, Secure Flight, also is seeking Safety Act coverage, said TSA spokeswoman Amy Von Walter.

Responding to Sabo's concerns, Von Walter said the Act "does not limit liability for harms caused when no act of terrorism has occurred," such as in the area of privacy.

Lockheed Martin's risk assessment platform is not being used in Secure Flight, Von Walter added.

Senate bill boosts IV&V

The Senate report on the Homeland Security Appropriations bill gives a vote of confidence to independent verification and validation procedures. IV&V should be applied to more projects such as eMERGE2, Max HR, and the Homeland Secure Data Network, the report states.

The report also has positive words for homeland-related IT in general: "A 21st century department should not be operating on stovepiped, disconnected, inherited information technology systems. The department requires a 21st century technology base to achieve full effectiveness."

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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