Justice makes case for new architecture

Justice CIO Vance Hitch wants to reduce cost, complexity and risk in his systems.

Henrik G. DeGyor

The Justice Department intends to reduce costs, simplify operations and boost security by creating an enterprise architecture, consolidating data networks and implementing a public-key infrastructure.

Justice outlined the efforts in its recently released IT Strategic Plan.

Justice CIO Vance Hitch said the plan would promote information sharing across the department's agencies.

Hitch said the department is preparing requirements for the PKI project. Several Justice agencies already have PKI projects under way, he said, so the goal is to 'come up with an overall plan for the whole department that would include rollout so that the ones that are furthest along already would move out first.'

Justice runs more than 250 systems, most of them legacy applications developed by its agencies to meet specific needs.

'This approach has introduced an unnecessary level of cost, complexity and risk, and inadvertently created technical barriers to sharing information,' the plan said. To impose order on the department's IT, the plan proposes adopting an enterprise architecture to assure interoperability and create technical standards for Justice systems.

The department operates a potpourri of networks around the nation. A proposed single, national data network would replace existing systems such as the Justice Consolidated Network, which uses Sprint Corp.'s public-switched backbone.

Hitch said the telecommunications project would build on existing work.

Outsource net operations

The new network would use TCP/IP. 'It will emphasize promoting information sharing, providing enhanced security and ensuring continuity of network operations,' the plan said. An appendix to the plan recommended that Justice outsource the operation of the network.

To improve security, the department has developed a database to track how Justice deals with security weaknesses, the plan said. 'This database is a single repository of findings and corrective actions identified through the component certification and accreditation activities, audits, penetration testing and other reviews.'

The plan calls for Justice to implement PKI to strengthen security and promote information sharing across organizational boundaries. The initiative also would promote the department's e-government plans by establishing a framework for communicating with law enforcement agencies across federal, state and local levels.

The plan also endorses common systems for use departmentwide where they would serve similar needs. It sets a strategy for business process re-engineering, an e-government plan, a strengthened role for the department's CIO and an IT work force plan.

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