Homeland Security, not yet official, puts its IT ducks in a row

'Whether the legislation gets passed or not, the work still needs to be done for homeland security.'

'Jim Flyzik

Hernik G. DeGyor

If Congress approves the proposed Homeland Security Department, the technology planning going on now likely will bear fruit quickly.

Jim Flyzik, special adviser to Tom Ridge, director of the White House's Homeland Security Office, said about a third of the technologies being used now in the 22 agencies that would join the proposed department could be easily integrated. Flyzik, the former CIO of the Treasury Department, discussed the Homeland Security Office's transition planning last month at the FedFocus 2003 conference sponsored by Input of Chantilly, Va.

The other two-thirds fall into one of two categories: applications that might take some work to integrate but still could be done in the short term, and those that will take a lot of work to integrate and likely will need some form of middleware, he said.

Flyzik said his office established the technology integration ratings using a green, yellow and red scoring system, with green being the easiest to integrate.

'There are a lot of common things and obvious directions we will go once the department is created,' he said. 'Having this information will give us the ability to get some quick hits.'

The green category includes applications such as e-mail. A yellow score applies to programs such as search engines. A red rating would be assigned to systems built specifically for an agency, Flyzik said.

The 22 agencies are waiting to move forward because Congress and the administration are squabbling over a number of issues, including personnel rules for the proposed department. Flyzik said he doesn't expect lawmakers to pass legislation creating the new department until after a new Congress takes over in January.

In the meantime, technology officials recently finished a technical-reference model that outlines technology platforms each agency uses. Flyzik said the technical-reference model is the basis for how officials are planning the software integration work.

Inventory, integration

Along with the technical-reference model, he said, his office finished an application inventory of more than 500 programs being used by civilian agencies. He said a working group still is trying to finish the Defense Department's inventory.

'We will analyze the inventory and decide which ones we can enhance, consolidate or integrate,' Flyzik said.

The application inventory also will let the new department consider enterprise licensing agreements. Flyzik said the agency will buy one license for an entire agency instead of several individual ones. He said that type of agreement typically saves between 10 percent and 15 percent. The savings then could be used for other modernization projects.

The architecture work will culminate in four short-term projects that Flyzik said the new department will finish 90 days after the legislation becomes law. The projects include:
  • Consolidating 58 criminal and terrorist watch lists

  • Deploying a Homeland Security Department portal

  • Setting up secure videoconferencing

  • Establishing a secure Internet expansion to share information with state and local authorities using the Law Enforcement Online Intranet portal and the Regional Information Sharing Systems network.

'Whether the legislation gets passed or not, the work still needs to be done for homeland security,' Flyzik said.

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