Texas funnels grants to pair of homeland security projects

The state of Texas will direct funding to two high-priority IT projects as it allocates the $86 million it is due to receive in federal homeland security grants this year, Gov. Rick Perry (R) said Wednesday.

The projects are the Texas Data Exchange System, which will link all state law enforcement databases statewide, and purchase of electronic fingerprinting equipment for 184 counties, Perry said in a statement to the media.

"In the post 9/11 environment, these technologies are important for the safety of Texans, and they build on the priorities Texas established in its Homeland Security Strategic Plan," Perry said in the statement. "Information sharing between law enforcement agencies is the foundation of a secure homeland, and these priorities allow Texas to build that foundation."

The data exchange system is a secure, Web-based network connecting more than 2,000 law enforcement databases in the state as well as federal databases. Homeland security grant money will be used to pay user fees so that the 70,000 police officers in the state each have access to the network and so that additional agencies may connect their databases to the network. Texas is one of the first states to attempt to connect all law enforcement databases statewide.

The fingerprint technology that the state will purchase uses electronic scanners rather than ink and paper, allowing law enforcement officials to submit the prints and receive results in seconds. Seventy counties in Texas already possess the equipment, and homeland security grants will be used to purchase the devices for an additional 184 counties to achieve full statewide coverage, the statement said.

The amount of money to be spent on each of the projects was not immediately available.

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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