Law enforcement modernization offers millions in opportunities
- By Tom O'Keefe
- Mar 04, 2016
The trend toward transformation across the government aims to increase automation, share information within and among agencies, and move to paperless systems for applications and documentation.
The transformational push will mean greater use of the cloud for data and applications. This is particularly true among law enforcement agencies. The proposed fiscal 2017 budget suggests more opportunities across the federal law enforcement community for IT solutions targeted towards cloud and open source technologies.
At the same time, increased use of these technologies also means increased concerns about information security. Consequently, agencies are not only looking for open source technology and cloud implementations; they continue to look for ways to improve the security of their IT infrastructure and associated data.
Let’s look at how agencies are piloting and rolling out new types of cloud computing technologies, leveraging open-source and open-standard solutions, and expanding cybersecurity in their IT environments.
Department of Justice
DOJ’s 2017 IT budget is $2.8 billion, with significant money being spent on legacy IT investments. Legacy IT at Justice isn’t all old systems, as DOJ has long worked to provide information to other law enforcement entities via a law enforcement community cloud. Cloud efforts, alongside concern about insider threat prevention, should be key go-to-market approaches for IT companies looking to target the department.
The National Data Exchange Program (N-DEx), which DOJ is funding to the tune of $26 million in 2017, is a key example of the department’s law enforcement community cloud. N-DEx is populated primarily by federal law enforcement groups and makes that information available to state, local, and tribal authorities. Expansion efforts this year include connection with additional law enforcement systems and continued system performance enhancements and tech refreshes. Expect to see a new focus on ways to integrate data and information from disparate sources over the remaining year.
DOJ’s IT security investment will fund many of the department’s tools to protect internal systems from external threats, and to mitigate the risk from malicious actors within DOJ’s networks. The $200 million in cyber spending is increasingly centralized at DOJ’s headquarters, but the FBI retains some autonomy in cybersecurity spending.
For those prospecting within IT security, keying in on some of the application refreshes going on at bureaus like the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Prisons, These DOJ subagencies will provide an avenue to sell more software assurance-focused cyber tools into the department.
Department of Homeland Security
DHS’s IT budget request for fiscal 2017 is nearly $6.5 billion, up nearly $300 million from the 2016 request. Most of the department’s $1.2 billion development, modernization, and enhancement budget (DME – think money for new projects and programs) is going to the National Protection and Programs Directorate, with significant new money also being spent at U,S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Customs and Border Protection..
Continuous diagnostics and mitigation (CDM) continues to be a focus in IT cybersecurity spending. The fiscal 2017 request for CDM is $275 million, an increase over the 2016 request.
The goal of Phase 1 of CDM was answering the question “What is on your network?” The program is now moving into Phase 2, with solicitations scheduled for release in the second quarter of 2016. This phase is all about “Who is on your network?” and ensuring more consistent account and privilege management. Getting access to CDM dollars means working with the prime vendors that have already won contracts working with federal agencies.
Another prominent DHS IT investment is the National Cybersecurity & Protection Systems, NCPS (more commonly known as Einstein), which is intended to protect the .gov domain from malicious attacks. DHS will spend over $470 million on Einstein in 2017. This combination of hardware and software sits in Internet Service Providers’ data centers in “Einstein enclaves.”
It is important to note that a recent GAO report criticized Einstein’s defenses, noting that the program does not stop many well-known vulnerabilities. This year, program leaders will be planning and designing advanced visual analytics, automated reports, and enhanced data management.
Raytheon won a major contract, DOMino, to support the sustainment and operations of Einstein. IT companies seeking to support the NCPS mission will need to work with Raytheon and NCPS leadership to supply the next generation of cybersecurity tools.
Finally, we have the DHS Transformation program with spending of $173 million. This program is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ effort to move from paper-based to paperless applications for immigration. Transformation is a long-running investment for USCIS. Beset by issues in the past, current CIS leadership has resurrected the program with quick, iterative releases that provide incremental functionality updates to keep the initiative on track. IT companies that can incorporate open source functionality to the Transformation program will likely find ready ears within USCIS.
Federal IT is converging in a number of meaningful ways, and identifying plays within cloud and cybersecurity is a must for every IT company in the federal market. It is more important than ever to understand the network of relationships between systems integrators and their federal customers.
Working with a distributor who understands the changing landscape of the federal market will help you get your products in the hands of government agencies by driving demand creation and lead generation.
Tom O’Keefe is a consultant with immixGroup, an Arrow company, which helps technology companies do business with the government. Tom focuses on civilian agencies, as well as public sector enterprise mobility. He can be reached at Tomas_Okeefe@immixgroup.com, or connect with him on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/tmokeefe.