Technological curve didn't affect their project pitch

When managers who advocated linking the FBI's Law Enforcement Online with five other networks went looking for support, they prepared their case in the usual way'in a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, with a notebook PC and projector ready to deliver it.

Before arriving for an October 2002 meeting with the White House Homeland Security Office's Investment Review Committee, a committee staff member told the Justice Department and FBI officials they could travel light, said M. Miles Matthews, senior management counsel and executive officer of the Justice Department's Counterdrug Intelligence Executive Secretariat. They wouldn't need the hardware because the office already had it.

The meeting included several high-level federal IT officials, including Steve Cooper, now the Homeland Security Department CIO, and James Flyzik, then the IT adviser in the White House's Homeland Security Office, who led the committee.

But all that IT savvy failed to keep the presentation on track.

'Anybody who is anybody in the homeland security technology world is there, all the CIOs,' Matthews said. 'We get up there to use their laptop, and not one of them could get us past the password to get into the laptop, including its owner. So here are the centerpieces of technology in law enforcement, and they could not get a laptop working.'

The workaround was hardly elegant, but it was effective. 'We gave out paper copies' of the presentation, Matthews said, 'And they flipped through them.'

All's well that ends well.

After the presentation, 'They all endorsed it,' he said. 'Flyzik said it was a no-brainer.'

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