DHS IT programs face pivotal decisions

Several major Homeland Security Department technology programs could reach a crossroads before the end of the fiscal year, even as the department works without a full complement of senior technology officials.

U.S. Visitor and Immigration Status Indicator Technology program. US Visit is slated to receive $390 million in fiscal 2006. The program faces the prospect of being consolidated into a new Screening and Coordination Center along with several other IT projects. Meanwhile, program officials must make major decisions regarding the choice of technologies for exit systems at borders; how to process citizens who will be newly required to use passports when re-entering the country; and coordinating immigration and lookout databases.

Automated Commercial Environment. This $3.1 billion project at Customs and Border Protection must roll out additional releases of security and financial software. It has a history of missed deadlines and cost overruns.

Domain procurements. In an open-ended, multimillion-dollar series of acquisition projects, DHS plans to craft purchasing vehicles for the department's commodity IT goods and services.

Integrated Wireless Network program. This $10 billion project to overhaul first-responder wireless voice and data systems, a joint effort with the Justice and Treasury departments, likely will select vendors by mid-year.

Case management. DHS is cooperating with Justice in a project managed by the FBI to choose a case management system that will serve as a pattern for federal investigation management systems. Most of the funding likely will come from the bureau, but the FBI may have to seek additional funds from Congress for the project, formerly known as the Virtual Case File.

Headquarters IT initiatives. The CIO office is slated to receive $303.7 million this year for an array of technology initiatives, including expanded efforts in smart cards, geospatial projects and metadata technology.

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