Cooper details EA at hearing

'While I can't argue that one or two systems is the right number, I can argue that 300 is not the right number' of back-office applications.

'Homeland Security CIO Steve Cooper

Olivier Douliery

With a brand-new enterprise architecture plan in hand, the Homeland Security Department's IT chief last week told lawmakers he would jump-start the DHS infrastructure with several quick-hit projects.

Over the next six to 12 months, DHS will begin projects to maximize the benefits it can derive in the short term from its architecture road map, CIO Steve Cooper said at a hearing of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census.

The efforts include establishing an information-sharing clearinghouse, coordinating terrorist watch lists, starting e-training programs and identifying a standard case management system.

Cooper said he wants to use the department's U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program to lay the foundation for an integrated DHS infrastructure by December 2005. U.S. Visit is Homeland Security's much-anticipated entry-exit system.

In a speech last month before the Federation of Government Information Processing Councils, Cooper said the department would begin the first phase of its architecture'which he called stabilization'over the next six months.

The stabilization phase will involve addressing the department's critical needs and meeting congressionally mandated project deadlines, he said.

Shuffle time

In the second phase, the department will rationalize, or reorganize, its IT projects, Cooper said.
'The rationalize phase is really focused on how we pick what we keep, how we pick what we consolidate and how we pick what we retire,' he said.

Cooper described several areas where DHS seeks to eliminate overlapping systems.

'For example, we have identified at least eight existing initiatives supporting port-of-entry management that can be unified, leading to cost savings,' he said.

Cooper appeared at the hearing with Karen Evans, the recently appointed associate administrator for e-government and IT at the Office of Management and Budget.

Evans said the merger of 22 agencies into the department 'has resulted in DHS inheriting a number of redundant and overlapping systems, nearly all designed to address individual programs.' She said OMB will work with DHS to eliminate needless systems.

Cooper pointed to the vast numbers of applications his team must take into account. The department has more than 300 back-office IT applications for functions such as budgeting, financial management, recruiting and human resources, he said.

'While I can't argue that one or two systems is the right number, I can argue that 300 is not the right number,' Cooper said.

The committee members were sympathetic to the situation. 'When you strip away the jargon, the enterprise architecture is a plan for an agency to communicate,' Rep. William L. Clay Jr. (D-Mo.) said. 'Implementing this transformation will take communication and cooperation.'

The third phase is optimizing, or providing new capabilities for the department. In this phase, department IT planners will group projects by common business processes.

Department planners decided to issue an enterprise architecture only six months after DHS started'rather than taking more time to build a more detailed plan'to improve capital planning and investment control, Cooper said.

Over the coming months, DHS will refine the architecture. The department will issue a second version of the planning document in June or July, he said. It will release a third detailed architecture next September.

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