IT blueprint gives TSA a foundation

The Transportation Security Administration is sticking to a do-more-with-less-and-do-it-quickly approach as it begins Stage 2 of its systems infrastructure implementation.

With an IT budget just shy of $200 million this year, agency IT teams and contractor Unisys Corp. are deploying integrated Internet-ready applications throughout airports, seaports and other TSA-monitored facilities.

Stage 1'which included installing network connections, computers and basic applications such as
e-mail at every TSA component'mainly consisted of creating the infrastructure's foundation, deputy CIO Mark Emery said at the SecureE-Biz.net conference sponsored by the Interoperability Clearinghouse of Alexandria, Va.

The agency has been successful because it is using an e-government software platform to run Web services, he said. The platform is an Oracle Corp. database and Oracle 9i Application Server. TSA is using content management and workflow software from Documentum Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif.

Stretching dollars

'We are working from a very limited budget and have to make use of every dollar, and our enterprise architecture is helping us do that,' he said. 'Our e-government platform allows us to share common databases, tools and resources for deployment across the agency.'

As an example, Emery recounted how instead of buying a new emergency alert system for Chicago O'Hare International Airport, IT managers tweaked an existing system that let O'Hare's system integrate with other TSA apps.

TSA's enterprise architecture work set the blueprint that let the agency speed through Stage 1 and into the second phase of the IT rollout, he said.

The architecture advanced quickly following work that began early last summer, Emery said. The agency expects its enterprise architecture model to be ready for Stage 3 this summer. During the third phase, TSA will begin its deployment of new technologies and systems.

Five-year plan

'The as-is architecture and the technical reference model are finished, and we are working through the to-be architecture and transition plan,' Emery said. 'We also plan on finishing our five-year IT strategic plan by the end of April.'

To provide easy executive-level systems information to its staff, TSA has built an architecture portal using the Enterprise Architecture Management System first developed for the Housing and Urban Development Department by Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. of McLean, Va.

IT and program managers can use the portal to search 16,000 Web pages that provide details about how and where applications are being used within the agency.

The focus is on finding redundancies and identifying shortcomings in TSA's IT infrastructure, Emery said.

With so much going on, Emery credited the enterprise architecture and the communications among managers as the reason for the IT deployment's smooth progress.

'We try to bring it all together through integrated product team meetings,' he said. 'Instead of deploying things serially, we have been doing it in a parallel fashion with constant check-back points.'

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