Fledgling HSD pecks at its shell

Janet Hale has been nominated to become the new department's undersecretary of management, boss of Homeland Security's CIO.

White House's transition team begins the search for people, funds and equipment

The Homeland Security Department showed signs of quickening life during the early days of the New Year, in a foreshadowing of its ambitious IT agenda.

The White House announced that President Bush will nominate Janet Hale to become the new department's undersecretary for management. In that position, she will oversee the department's CIO.

Hale now is the assistant secretary for budget, technology and finance for the Health and Human Services Department, where she acts as chief financial officer and CIO. She also has worked with the White House's homeland security transition team.

Hale gained congressional and systems experience in a previous job as associate administrator for finance of the House, where she managed implementation of a financial system and developed a new budget system. Before holding the Capitol Hill job, Hale worked for the Elizabeth Dole presidential campaign organization and as chief lobbyist for the U.S. Telephone Association.

During Hale's tenure at HHS, the department has been overhauling its financial systems.

Hale's experience in managing large organizations was cited by some observers as a plus for her nomination, but others expressed surprise that the White House chose a nominee with no previous domestic defense experience. 'She will have the job of pulling together the 'network of networks,' ' one consultant said, 'and that will be one of the largest challenges to date.'

Cooper stays on

One level below Hale will be Homeland Security CIO Steve Cooper. The White House said last week that Cooper would remain the government's homeland security systems chief.

Cooper has held the CIO post in the White House's Homeland Security Office, reporting directly to Tom Ridge, who President Bush has nominated as the department's secretary.

With Cooper's becoming the CIO an inevitability, vendors have begun to speculate on which companies have the inside track with the transition team.

Lockheed Martin Corp. stands out as a vendor that has executed an effective marketing campaign at the Homeland Security Office. Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Meghan Mariman said her company 'currently is the largest provider of IT services to the government'we feel we are in a good position to support any new requirements.'

Lockheed Martin plans to compete for the INS' Entry Exit Program contract, and it has already gained two of the four major contracts issued by the Transportation Security Administration, she added, in teams that support TSA's passenger screening and airport security designs.

In the mix

Other contractors expected to play lead roles at the new department include Computer Sciences Corp., IBM Corp. and Unisys Corp. Unisys holds a critical $1 billion prime contract for the IT Managed Services seat management buy to run TSA's PC operations.

Meanwhile, administration officials are awaiting permission from House and Senate Appropriations committees to begin spending $125 million already appropriated for homeland security projects [GCN, Dec. 16, 2002, Page 1]. In other funding activity, industry analysts said they expect additional homeland security funding beyond this initial level would be delayed until February, when Congress is expected to complete fiscal 2003 appropriations.

On the legislative front, the Republican leadership of the House last week announced plans to create a select committee to oversee the new department.

John Feehry, spokesman for Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), said the select committee would be approved for a two-year period, but House leaders have not chosen a chairman or members.
'It is important that as the executive branch reorganizes, the legislative branch has the ability to oversee the changes,' Feehry said.

A House Republican leadership official said the members of the new select committee likely would be drawn from committees that previously had jurisdiction or experience with homeland security issues.

In the Senate, a spokeswoman for the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee said the panel likely would hold hearings soon on nominations for the new department. She added that the committee likely will play a large role in overseeing the department.

Meanwhile, the White House's Homeland Security transition office has continued to grow in size, with its staff exceeding 140 members from at least 17 of the 22 agencies that will become part of the new department. Currently, homeland security tasks are being carried out by officials detailed mainly from the 22 agencies with funding available under the continuing resolution set to expire this month.

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