Homeland Security Department shapes up

White House Homeland Security Office director Tom Ridge and Gordon England, the secretary of the Navy, are emerging as the likeliest candidates for the job of leading the new Homeland Security Department, sources said today.

The Senate last night passed by a vote of 90 to 9 HR 5005, the House version of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, paving the way for the bill to go to President Bush. He likely will sign the legislation Monday in a Rose Garden ceremony, when he may also name the secretary and deputy secretary of the new department.

'The secretary is waiting to see what the president decides, but in the meantime he's engaged in the work of the Navy and Marine Corps,' said Capt. Kevin Wensing, a spokesman for England.

The new department will merge 22 agencies with a combined $37.2 billion budget and 170,000 federal workers in the biggest federal reorganization since World War II. The bill calls for the administration to submit a departmental transition plan 60 days after the president signs the legislation. The transition must be completed not more than one year after the signing.

In addition to the new secretary and deputy secretary, the department needs a management structure, with undersecretaries for:

  • information analysis and infrastructure protection

  • science and technology

  • border and transportation security

  • emergency preparedness and response

  • management.

  • Among those layers will be a CIO, a chief financial officer, a chief human capital officer and a director of the Secret Service.

    Michael Farber, a principal with Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. of McLean, Va., said Steve Cooper, current White House Homeland Security Office CIO, would be the logical CIO for the new department.

    'There has been close coordination between Steve Cooper and the Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office to make sure the architecture work is integrated,' said Farber, who works closely with the program management office. 'I think homeland security will have a real good model to drive down the architecture into the systems and underlying systems. If Steve is CIO, it will keep the continuity and he will be able to move projects out quickly.'

    He added that Cooper's office works with the incoming agencies' CIOs, including those of the Coast Guard, Customs Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Immigration and Naturalization Service, and others. That will help the new department prepare its IT infrastructure more quickly than other areas.

    Farber said the department likely will follow a two-track approach. It will bring up initial IT systems for e-mail, communications and outreach, and then over time put more enduring systems in place.

    James Flyzik, special adviser to Ridge, has said e-mail, a departmental portal, secure videoconferencing and consolidation of terrorist watch lists are among the first projects Homeland Security will undertake.

    Joe Draham, vice president of government relations and congressional affairs for GTSI Corp. of Chantilly, Va., said the department's biggest challenge is in funding because all the component agencies are working under a continuing resolution.

    About the budget, Draham said, '$37.2 billion is a lot of money, but that will be the sole source of money to get the agency going right now. There are no separate dollars to spend on Homeland Security, and there may not be for a long time.'

    Draham said that now the Office of Management and Budget is about finished with the fiscal 2004 budget, the new secretary will have to do a fair amount of negotiation with Congress to reconfigure the departmental budget.


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