Homeland Security CIO gains clout, funding

The shift in funding 'should give the department increased flexibility and greater ability to respond,' CIO Steve Cooper says.

Olivier Douliery

Homeland Security Department CIO Steve Cooper will have far more control over critical IT programs and four times as much money to spend as a result of the Homeland Security appropriations bill President George W. Bush signed into law last week.

New acquisitions Cooper plans to launch will reflect the funding shift.

The final DHS fiscal 2005 budget bumped funding for the CIO's Office from $65 million to $275.3 million. Most of the increase represents funds transferred from cross-departmental technology programs over which Cooper formerly shared control with other department CIOs. Last year, the cross-departmental programs received $222 million.

The CIO Office funds come in a line item that for the first time assigns budget responsibility for the cross-agency IT projects to the CIO and transfers authority for several programs to that office.

'This should give the department increased flexibility and greater ability to respond,' Cooper said, adding that he and chief financial officer Andrew Maner now will be able to work quickly to present new programs to DHS' Investment Review Board.

The CIO Office's Infrastructure Transformation Office is completing plans for a series of new projects that will cover major groupings of DHS systems, which the department calls domains.
The department plans to begin the domain acquisitions early next year.

The office first will review the domain project plans and draft a buying strategy that DHS will issue to vendors either as a request for information or for general comments.

'The report contents will also go to Congress as part of a larger report that I give to oversight committees, chairmen and the Office of Management and Budget,' Cooper said.

He characterized DHS' component agencies as vertical columns and said the department's domain contracts would 'take the vertical columns and flip them on their sides.'

In the meantime, DHS plans to begin a relatively small acquisition'amounting to a few million dollars'for headquarters enterprise portal services. Cooper said he wants his team to issue the solicitation within the next month.

The department also has plans to buy an executive correspondence document management system for use by DHS' new components, such as headquarters, the Science and Technology Directorate and the Information Assurance and Infrastructure Protection Directorate.

The CIO Office also will resume work on an applications portfolio initiative. The project stalled because the department had to shift funding to other more pressing programs.

Margie Graves, di-rector of business processes in the CIO's Office, will manage the portfolio initiative. By the end of the year, Cooper's office is set to approve an acquisition plan for a commercial portfolio management tool.

Early next year, Graves and her staff will begin to populate a portfolio database and use it to track DHS systems projects. The department will use the tool when the CIO's Office plans the transition from existing contracts to the new domain projects, Cooper said.

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