Core Projects: DHS builds its foundation on IT initiatives

Several initiatives, including ACE, Rescue 21 and TWIC, are designed to ease security headaches at the 360 commercial ports scattered along a 95,000-mile coastline.

IT projects are driving the Homeland Security Department's efforts to sharpen the response to terrorism and upgrade service to the public, other agencies and corporations.

The 13 projects detailed in this gatefold reflect the diversity of the department's missions and the varying backgrounds of its agencies. Mature agencies such as the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection are implementing the long-term, multibillion-dollar upgrades known as Deepwater and the Automated Commercial Environment, respectively.

Meanwhile, organizations such as the Management Directorate and the offices of the CIO and chief financial officer are grappling with the tasks of weaving together the department's networks and building a consolidated financial system. The program capsules inside summarize the department's signature IT initiatives.

Major DHS IT initiatives in a nutshell


Automated Commercial Environment

WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT: The system is intended to track imports into the United States, reducing paperwork and speeding up clearance of goods, particularly for routine shipments. In the post-Sept. 11 environment, much of the data provided overseas also is now used to help screen for at-risk cargo.

IBM Corp. is upgrading custom-written mainframe applications to Windows NT- and Unix-based software and relational databases. ACE will integrate the information Customs collects on businesses' international trade activities, making it easier to target inspections and track traders' payment of duties, taxes and fees.

AGENCY IN CHARGE: Customs and Border Protection

FED IN CHARGE: Rod McDonald, CIO Customs & Border Protection

PRIME CONTRACTOR: IBM Corp.

COST: $321.7 million in 2005; funding for 2006: $322 million

STATUS: The original plan was to overhaul Customs processing to streamline the handling of border traffic and use electronic systems for greater productivity.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, ACE was modified to take into account the need to share cargo information'point of origin and container contents, for instance'with such counterterrorism operations as the Coast Guard's National Targeting Center and DHS' Homeland Security Operations Center.

FAST FACT: In July, CBP unveiled a new Portal Support Center, where ACE users can ask questions about the program's functionality. In the same month, ACE was launched at five southern border ports: Douglas, Naco, Lukeville, Sasabe and Nogales, Arizona.

Deepwater

WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT: The Integrated Deepwater Project is a 30-year project to modernize the Coast Guard, with new ships, aircraft, communications and sensor equipment to support deepwater missions'those that occur more than 50 nautical miles from U.S. coastlines.

AGENCY IN CHARGE: Coast Guard

Rear Adm. Patrick Stillman FED IN CHARGE: Rear Adm. Patrick Stillman, program executive officer

PRIME CONTRACTOR: Integrated Coast Guard Systems (a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp.)

COST: The project received $724 million in 2005. Proposed funding for 2006: Senate, $906 million; House, $500 million; administration request, $966 million. Thomas Collins, commandant of the Coast Guard, testified in June that Deepwater would have a price tag of between $19 billion and $24 billion over its life.

STATUS: The Integrated Deepwater System contract was awarded in 2002, but because it has such a long time line, it is subject to review in advance of renewed appropriations each year. The House measure slashed $466 million from the administration's request after the Coast Guard missed a deadline to provide a revision to the original 1997 plan for the program. The modification was to reflect the post-Sept. 11 changes to the Coast Guard's mission priorities, from drug trafficking, illegal immigration and vessel safety to homeland security.

FAST FACTS: The maritime transportation system annually accommodates 6.5 million cruise ship passengers and 51,000 port calls by more than 7,500 foreign ships, at more than 360 commercial ports spread out over 95,000 miles of coastline. The Coast Guard is the lead agency responsible for protecting this $750 billion industry.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Coast Guard is moving to upgrade C4ISR capabilities on all its legacy ships, while development continues on a new cutter design to replace the aging fleet.

WORD ON THE STREET: 'The final plan does not include a basis for comparing the performance of the Deepwater system against the performance of the current fleet; i.e., before and after. Simply put: How do the taxpayers know we are buying a more efficient, more effective system than what we already have?'
'Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security

Emerge2

WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT: The project is intended to build a financial backbone for DHS to consolidate several financial accounting systems. Its full title is Electronically Managing Enterprise Resources for Government Effectiveness and Efficiency.

DIRECTORATE IN CHARGE: Management Directorate

FED IN CHARGE: Andy Maner, chief financial officer

PRIME CONTRACTOR: BearingPoint Inc. of McLean, Va.

COST: DHS last year issued a $229 million contract to BearingPoint, which received a $3 million task order in September 2004.

STATUS: The Emerge2 program has slowed to a crawl, as Maner and other DHS officials weigh whether to continue with the BearingPoint approach to building an enterprise resource planning system. BearingPoint's task order has expired, and DHS says the department is reviewing other options for building a consolidated financial system.

FAST FACT: DHS has not yet earned a clean financial audit rating from OMB, and the completion of the Emerge2 project would help the department get its books in order.

WHAT'S NEXT: Maner and the Management Directorate team say the Emerge2 program is still under way. But BearingPoint has dispersed its Emerge2 contractor work force to temporary assignments on other projects.

WORD ON THE STREET: DHS may decide to use existing ERP systems in place at the Coast Guard, or seek assistance from the Interior Department's financial systems center.

The Federal Investigative Case Management System

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT: FICMS is an interagency template for case management systems, led by the Justice Department and DHS. It is one of the Office of Management and Budget's Lines of Business Consolidation projects. Project leaders will consolidate existing case management systems and try to set a standard by which law enforcement officials can more easily share information and let other agencies develop similar systems based on the requirements.

DIRECTORATE IN CHARGE: Border and Transportation Security and Justice CIO's office

FED IN CHARGE: Price Roe, senior policy adviser in the Justice CIO's office

CONTRACTOR: To be determined

COST: Industry officials estimate the cost of FICMS to be at least $200 million. The FBI spent $170 million on its failed Virtual Case File management system.

STATUS: FBI and Justice officials last fall asked for industry input in creating FICMS. The projects include the DHS' investigative case management system, known as the Consolidated Enforcement Environment. The project team developed the target architecture for the litigation system.

FAST FACT: Law enforcement officers currently need up to one hour to search 10 to 15 different case management databases. DHS operates 40 fragmented case management applications. Case entry can take up to five hours per detainee.

WHAT'S NEXT: DHS and Justice are preparing two requests for proposals under the Case Management Line of Business Consolidation effort, to be released by the end of September for investigative and litigation support applications. The project team also is developing a common architecture for administrative systems, which likely will not come about until the project team has progressed further with the investigative and litigation systems. Contracts should be awarded by March 2006, and the project should begin implementation in 2007 and be finished by 2010.

WORD ON THE STREET: 'What the agent on the street does not have is a user-friendly format for inputting investigative and intelligence information into his or her computer. Instead, the agent faces a cumbersome, time-consuming process of preparing a paper record of that information, seeking the necessary approvals, then uploading the document into an existing database.'
'FBI director Robert Mueller III, before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, February 2005

Geospatial projects

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT: DHS seeks to enable systems functioning throughout the department to handle geospatial data. When they achieve this goal, department officials will be able to specify a physical location and call up all related homeland security information.

DIRECTORATE IN CHARGE: Management Directorate, Geospatial Management Office

FED IN CHARGE: CIO Scott Charbo

PRIME CONTRACTOR: Northrop Grumman Information Technology

COST: The department likely will receive about $13 million for geospatial projects in the fiscal 2006 appropriations bill. The department issued a $10 million contract for assistance on geospatial projects to Northrop Grumman last summer

STATUS: DHS is fielding a geospatial Web portal that will let agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Homeland Security Operations Center access additional geospatial data.

FAST FACT: Sixty-seven of DHS' 77 business units use geospatial information.

WHAT'S NEXT: In September, DHS officials plan to roll out a geospatial capability for the Enforcement Case Management System used by the Border and Transportation Security Directorate's Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies. DHS officials use ENFORCE to record arrests of illegal border crossers.

WORD ON THE STREET: DHS has built a geospatial enterprise architecture that complies with the standards of the Open Geospatial Consortium Inc. of Wayland, Mass., and the Federal Geographic Data Committee. The GMO will provide data to DHS users at the sensitive but unclassified security level.

Homeland Secure Data Network

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT: HSDN is intended to replace the department's reliance on the Pentagon's Secret IP Router Network for classified information. It exists alongside about five other classified networks the department acquired with legacy agencies such as the Coast Guard.

DIRECTORATE IN CHARGE: Management Directorate

FED IN CHARGE: CIO Scott Charbo

PRIME CONTRACTOR: Northrop Grumman Information Technology

COST: $337 million

STATUS: HSDN is designed to provide gateways to other classified federal government networks to speed the transfer of secret information.
Fast fact: The network is intended to be scalable to respond to increasing demands for the secure transmission of classified information.

WHAT'S NEXT: DHS officials plan to continue to build out levels of HSDN for handling sensitive but unclassified information shared with state, local and tribal governments.

WORD ON THE STREET: The department's inspector general, Richard L. Skinner, reported recently that DHS had rushed the completion of HSDN. Skinner said DHS officials acted hastily because they believed they would be cut off from SIPRnet by Dec. 31, 2004. The speeded-up schedule prevented the department from completing critical system development requirements, according to the IG report.

Homeland Security Information Network

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT: The network is used to transmit information'including secret data'to 50 states, the five U.S. territories, tribal governments and major cities. It delivers real-time interactive connectivity of sensitive but unclassified information among state and local partners and with the DHS Homeland Security Operations Center.

DIRECTORATE IN CHARGE: Information Assurance and Infrastructure Protection Directorate

FED IN CHARGE: Scott Charbo

CONTRACTORS: Verity Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., Groove Networks Inc. of Beverly, Mass., and ManTech International Corp. of Fairfax, Va.

COST: $9 million in 2005; $19.8 million in 2004

STATUS: The National Retail Federation has recruited executives from nearly 100 retail companies and 40,000 members to participate in the network, called HSIN-CL. Critical infrastructure owners and operators in Dallas, Seattle, Indianapolis and Atlanta took part in a 2004 pilot project, linking them to the regional nodes of the information network. Other industry sectors, including the chemical industry, ports and financial services, also are expected to participate in the HSIN-CL. DHS developed an interface between JRIES and the Regional Information Sharing System Network, an established nationwide network of criminal databases used by law enforcement agencies, and the Law Enforcement Online database.

FAST FACT: HSIN was used for the time during the G-8 Summit in Georgia in May 2004.

WHAT'S NEXT: JRIES/HSIN is expected to include users such as state homeland security advisers, state adjutants general (National Guard), state emergency operations centers, local emergency services (fire, police and other first responders) and, possibly, private-sector organizations as well. Department officials announced this month that they plan to consolidate DHS' sensitive but unclassified networks as part of the Infrastructure Transformation Program overseen by the CIO office.

Integrated Wireless Network

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT: IWN is a collaborative effort by the departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Treasury to provide a consolidated nationwide wireless communications service that replaces standalone component systems, and supports law enforcement, first-responder and homeland security requirements with integrated voice, data and multimedia services.

DIRECTORATE IN CHARGE: Wireless Management Office

FED IN CHARGE: Sean Thrash

CONTRACTOR: To be determined

COST: $10 billion ceiling

STATUS: The joint project team chose five teams of contractors in January to compete for Phase 2 of the procurement, which was released Jan. 4. The five teams are led by AT&T Corp., Boeing Co., General Dynamics Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Motorola Inc. Proposals were due May 6.

FAST FACT: The project team is testing IWN's P-25 standards in the Seattle-Blaine region of Washington State. It is a 15-radio-frequency-site system based on the IWN architecture completed in August 2002. The pilot will be used to collect lessons learned on project management, logistics management, and operations and administration of a multiagency system.

The IWN program is the successor to department-specific efforts in Justice and Treasury. Over the past five years, Justice has deployed two conventional P-25 systems to support multiple bureaus: one in Utah to support the 2002 Winter Olympics and one in San Diego to support the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and the Marshals Service operations.

WHAT'S NEXT: The project team will award up to three multiple-award task order contracts this fall. The awardees then will prepare and deliver a detailed system design and plan for the first service area, along with a fixed price for the implementation. From that competition, the project team likely will choose a single IWN contractor to implement the wireless system.

WORD ON THE STREET: 'Our best understanding is that it could take between five years to 10 years to complete.' 'An answer in the frequently asked questions section of IWN's Web site

IT Managed Services

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT: The Transportation Security Administration issued this performance-based managed services contract in August 2002. It supports networks, help desks, field support, desktops, routers and other equipment at TSA, DHS headquarters, the Science and Technology Directorate and other DHS agencies that didn't have such services when they joined the department or were created.

DIRECTORATE IN CHARGE: Management Directorate

Greg Rothwell FED IN CHARGE: Greg Rothwell, Chief Procurement Officer

PRIME CONTRACTOR: Unisys Corp.

COST: $1 billion

STATUS: Unisys brought more than 35 subcontractors into this umbrella contract, which was designed to launch TSA rapidly. The department used ITMS to roll out computer services to more than 200 TSA offices at airports nationwide.

FAST FACT: The original contract had a base duration of three years.

WHAT'S NEXT: DHS plans to issue a bridge contract to carry over the services until the department recompetes ITMS.

WORD ON THE STREET: The Government Accountability Office has advised TSA to upgrade its broadband connections to airports so that all of the agency's passenger screening workforce can receive online training.

MaxHR

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT: MaxHR is designed to consolidate the department's multiple human resources systems. The project covers the electronic systems to manage employee pay and benefits information as well as work on revised personnel procedures.

DIRECTORATE IN CHARGE: Management Directorate

FED IN CHARGE: Ron James, chief human capital officer

PRIME CONTRACTOR: Northrop Grumman Information Technology of Herndon, Va.

COST: DHS has issued a three-year blanket purchasing agreement for $175 million; congressional appropriations committees have cleared $53 million in spending for fiscal 2006.

STATUS: MaxHR is intended to cover about 110,000 of the department's 180,000 employees by 2009. The new system will use a series of pay bands keyed to comparable salaries in the private sector.

FAST FACT: Opposition by congressional Democrats to provisions in the Homeland Security Act of 2002 that clipped the powers of unions representing DHS employees delayed the bill's passage by several weeks. The department's special authority in the field of personnel policy will be built into the MaxHR system.

WHAT'S NEXT: DHS already has established new policies and procedures for labor relations, adverse actions and appeals portions via MaxHR, which it implemented this month. DHS plans to implement the remaining portions of MaxHR, including performance management, pay for performance and job classification, in phases over the next three years.

WORD ON THE STREET: Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) has criticized the department's decision to use a BPA to purchase MaxHR from Northrop Grumman. In a recent letter to DHS secretary Michael Chertoff, he said that using the BPA contracting method, which is intended for items purchased frequently and lacks strict oversight provisions, was unorthodox and inappropriate. The department said it would respond to his inquiry.

Rescue 21

WHAT IT'S all about: Rescue 21 will upgrade and modernize the current VHF-FM-based National Distress System, which is suffering from technological obsolescence. The new system is intended to be the primary maritime '911' system for U.S. coastal waters and navigable rivers and lakes.

AGENCY IN CHARGE: Coast Guard

FED IN CHARGE: Capt. Robert Mobley, program manager

PRIME CONTRACTOR: General Dynamics Corp.

COST: $134 million in 2005; proposed funding for 2006: The administration has requested $101 million.

STATUS: Rescue 21 has had its struggles. After the contract award to General Dynamics in September 2002, planned pilot programs were delayed, software problems showed up and even sites for antenna towers were delayed by environmental impact reviews.

FAST FACT: The Coast Guard responds to about 60,000 emergency calls and saves nearly 5,000 lives annually.

WHAT'S NEXT: According to GAO, CBP is scheduled to begin deploying advanced targeting capabilities for the National Targeting Center, so it can search multiple databases for facts and actionable intelligence, in February 2006.

Transportation Worker ID Card Program

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT: TWIC is designed to improve security by standardizing credentials across all modes of transportation. It is intended eventually to provide hundreds of thousands of biometric identification cards to transportation workers to help control access to ports, airports and similar facilities.

DIRECTORATE IN CHARGE: Transportation Security Administration

FED IN CHARGE: John Schwartz, Program Manager

PRIME CONTRACTOR: BearingPoint Inc.

COST: $5 million in 2005; $50 million in 2004

STATUS: The prototype phase, conducted at 27 seaports, airports and other transportation facilities in five states, was completed June 30. TSA is reviewing the results and will coordinate with the Coast Guard and other federal agencies in developing the next steps of the program.

FAST FACT: More than 18,000 transportation workers have been enrolled to date, and more than 8,000 cards have been produced.

WHAT'S NEXT: Joint TWIC rule-making with TSA and the Coast Guard, in which the two bureaus will codify the regulations for TWIC.

WORD ON THE STREET: 'What has gone so wrong with the TWIC program when it affects an area that is so important to our security and was specifically mandated by the Congress?' 'Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)

'I honestly don't know and I wish I did. I have to say it is perhaps impolitic, but it is true that I just share your frustration in this area, and I am perplexed at why we have not been able to move this ball further and faster, because it is important. ... This is not rocket science. It is a case where we should not let perfect be the enemy of making a substantial improvement. ...'
'DHS deputy secretary Michael Jackson (exchange at a March 2005 hearing)

U.S. Visit

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT: U.S. Visit automates the process of verifying the identity of foreign nationals at U.S. ports of entry and checking them against databases of terrorists and criminals. Officials use digital systems to scan fingerprints at consulates and embassies overseas, where they also take photographs of visitors. The first version was built by integrating legacy systems, such as the IDENT automated fingerprint identification system.

DIRECTORATE IN CHARGE: Screening and Coordination Office

FED IN CHARGE: Jim Williams

PRIME CONTRACTOR: Accenture LLP of Reston, Va.

COST: $360 million in 2005

STATUS: So far, DHS has implemented U.S. Visit entry procedures at 115 airports, 15 seaports and in the secondary inspection areas of the 50 busiest land ports of entry. It has processed more than 21 million visitors. Using the entry-exit system, State Department and DHS officials have denied visas to more than 2,000 criminals and stopped more than 500 immigration violators from coming into the country.

FAST FACT: The system enrolls about 2.7 percent of all foreign visitors who enter the country via land, according to the DHS inspector general. Based on travel patterns from fiscal 2003, the IG found that the program will need to handle at least 3.2 million land travelers annually. The system will also need to integrate information gathered at air and seaports of entry.

WHAT'S NEXT: U.S. Visit will be deployed at the remaining 115 entry land ports by Dec. 31, 2005. Earlier this summer, DHS released a request for information for radio-frequency identification products to put them at the 50 largest land ports of entry.

DHS also is piloting RFID technology at five locations to detect RFID chips embedded in travel documents carried by international visitors as they approach ports of entry. The tests started this month and are scheduled to last until March 2006. The project also will collect 10 fingerprints for first-time visitors and use two-print verification for re-entries.

WORD ON THE STREET: 'DHS has not employed rigorous, disciplined processes typically associated with successful programs, such as tracking progress against commitments. The fact remains that the program continues to invest hundreds of millions of dollars for a mission-critical capability under circumstances that introduce considerable risk that cost-effective mission outcomes will not be realized.' 'Recent GAO report

U.S. Visit 'is one defense layer that allows us to weigh threat, vulnerability and consequence. It is impossible to monitor every single person who enters the country but, with this system, we can pull the welcome mat from those who come packed with evil intentions. U.S. Visit can add a powerful layer to what we want to be a holistic system of security.' 'DHS secretary Michael Chertoff

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above