HSD plans to tap agencies' budgets to build its systems
- By Wilson P. Dizard III
- Dec 12, 2002
Systems planners for the new Homeland Security Department expect the organization's IT infrastructure to take shape with little new funding.
'There is a tremendous amount of savings to be generated through things like enterprise licensing.'
Although vendors that serve the department are hoping for a bonanza of new contracts, administration officials have said the government will fund the department with money from the budgets of its component agencies.
'In terms of the money, my feeling is there is a tremendous amount of savings to be generated through things like enterprise licensing,' said James Flyzik, the soon-to-retire senior assistant to Homeland Security Office director Tom Ridge. For example, Flyzik said at a recent meeting held by Federal Sources Inc. of McLean, Va., the new department's 22 component agencies each have enterprise licenses with Microsoft Corp. Department planners could choose the most efficient of the licenses and terminate the rest.
'I don't think anyone is looking for this big giant pot of money' on the scale of funding that agencies received to prepare systems to handle year 2000, said Flyzik, who is retiring from his post this week.
Planners in the Homeland Security office have identified 24 human resources systems and eight payroll systems among the department's component agencies, Flyzik said. 'I don't think on Day 1 we will have one [system], but 24 is not the ideal amount. As we generate savings we can funnel them back into new investments.'
But industry officials said the new department likely will need additional funds.
'I think we are a little concerned that this has been sold as a no-cost enterprise,' said Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America. 'We don't think that is realistic.
'With any merger in the commercial world, we know there are savings over time but there are initial investments that have to be made.'
For example, he said it would cost about $10 billion for the administration to develop an effective Entry Exit System, a current effort of the Immigration and Naturalization Service to track people entering and leaving the country. So far, the administration has allotted $362 million for the project, what INS plans to spend in 2003.
'It just seems that everyone is trying to pretend that we can do these things on the cheap, but unless there are investments, there are not going to be savings, and the department is not going to be able to do its job,' Harris said.
Other industry analysts predicted that existing IT projects related to security likely will go ahead rather than be canceled.
'They are not going to say this system is not compatible with the department's enterprise architecture so shut it off,' said Darryl Moody, vice president for homeland security at BearingPoint Inc. of McLean, Va. 'One idea is that systems that offer future abilities and those with performance enhancements need to be done within the [new] architecture, but funding to keep the existing systems up and running will continue.'
Another analyst said IT leaders of the new department likely will tap into present contracts to fund the initial homeland security projects.
'They will use the existing 2003 money that is going to those [component] agencies,' he said and pointed to funding for the Transportation Security Administration as a likely source of department infrastructure funding.
Many officials said funding the new department would be more of an issue for the fiscal 2004 budget cycle, which is in its early stages, than for the current year.
Though the government still is operating under a continuing resolution, which runs through early January, the fiscal 2004 funding plan will be the department's first full-scale budget.
Meanwhile, the continuing resolution allots $140 million to the new department from fiscal 2003 appropriations enacted before Oct. 1. Industry sources said that money could be tapped to cover initial start-up costs.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is making a bid to participate in early projects at the new department. Officials from the Joint Chiefs of Staff joined with CIOs of the department's component agencies at a recent meeting in Boston to plan joint projects for 'rapid prototyping' and other early pilots.