CIO Hitch: Justice must focus its IT infrastructure on fighting terrorism

CIO Hitch: Justice must focus its IT infrastructure on fighting terrorism

The Justice Department must improve its IT infrastructure over the next year if it is to fulfill its new priority of counterterrorism, a senior Justice official said.

Vance Hitch, Justice's CIO, today said he is facing 39 stovepipes among the branches of the department and over the next year will standardize and consolidate systems to help the department share information more easily and efficiently.

Hitch was one of four federal CIOs who detailed how their agencies' priorities have changed since Sept. 11 at a breakfast sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association in Rockville, Md.

Joining Hitch for the discussion were Steve Cooper, the Homeland Security Office's CIO, Dan Mehan, CIO of the Federal Aviation Administration, and Kim Nelson, the Environmental Protection Agency's CIO.

Justice is finalizing its IT strategy and will release it in the next few weeks, Hitch said. The plan will detail how the department's IT infrastructure will change.

'We need to promote common systems throughout the department,' said Hitch, who began working at Justice in April. 'Whether the system is shared by two or three parts of the agency or all 39, sharing promotes efficiencies and saves money.'

Hitch said IT security, developing an enterprise architecture and making sure the agency hires workers who have appropriate skills also are at the top of his list.

While Hitch has focused on Justice's infrastructure, Mehan said, FAA is working to make sure its systems are secure from hackers.

FAA has emphasized perimeter and boundary security since last year's terrorist attacks. It has consolidated its e-mail servers from 850 to 12, Mehan said.

The administration in April opened an intrusion detection center and runs a systemwide virus scanning program, he added.

Acknowledging the vital role of such technology, Cooper said that having the right people and processes in place is the key to keeping systems operating securely and efficiently.

'We are looking at change management, and IT is a component of that,' he said. 'The first and foremost thing we have to do is get a handle around the organizational change of what we do. That will allow us to make sure the IT is doing what we need it to do.'

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