DOJ focuses on security, architecture
- By Wilson P. Dizard III
- Sep 10, 2003
'I felt I had to elevate IT security within my organization. It was kind of buried and didn't have deep enough skills to really serve the role I wanted it to in the department.'
'Justice Department CIO Vance Hitch
Henrik G. de Gyor
Justice Department CIO Vance Hitch has reinforced the department's security operations in recent months, and worked to bring the rigor of an enterprise architecture to the sprawling department.
During a recent interview at Justice headquarters in Washington, Hitch said he identified security as a priority when he came to the department in April 2002.
'I really had to look at IT security from the top down,' he said. 'I felt I had to elevate IT security within my organization. It was kind of buried.'
Hitch created a new Senior Executive Service position within the department for IT security, and recruited Dennis Heretick for the job, from his former position as director of IT security for the Defense Logistics Agency.
'We have added a number of people to the security area,' Hitch said, including some recruited from the Cyber Corps program. The Cyber Corps offers students tuition and stipends at universities in exchange for a commitment to work for the federal government in IT security for two years after graduation.
Hitch expects eventually to have about 15 IT security workers.
In addition to hiring more IT security personnel and creating policies and standards for systems security, Justice is developing an IT security infrastructure formed of detailed best practices to be implemented across the department. The purpose of the security infrastructure is that 'whenever an individual component builds a system, it knows that it needs to do these things as it is being built,' Hitch said.Centralized reporting
Heretick runs a policy group with representatives from each of the security organizations within the department, Hitch said. The policy group will centralize reporting about security practices throughout Justice.
Justice is proceeding on its enterprise architecture in a tactical fashion. 'We are developing it in areas where we feel we have a good potential for common solutions,' Hitch said. 'As a practical matter, it is going to take years to finish an enterprise architecture. It is one of those tasks that never gets done, it is an ongoing effort.'
Hitch is focusing on the department's drive for a unified financial management system and its efforts to consolidate many case management systems as initial areas for the enterprise architecture work.
The Unified Financial Management System calls for a standard application to be rolled out in phases. 'We are currently on the path to select a basic financial software package and to hire an integrator to come and work with our components on a prioritized basis,' Hitch said. The procurement could exceed $100 million over several years, he said.
In the case management area, Hitch seeks to bring order to the department's varying systems first by defining the basic building blocks of a case. 'I want to make sure we have all kinds of cases that we are looking at when we figure that out,' Hitch said, referring to investigative, adjudicative and administrative cases among others.
'Once we get that, we can talk about data. What kinds of data do we have in these different cases?' he said. 'And then we can talk about the need for communication between organizations about cases.'
The goal of Hitch's proposed case management architecture would be to increase the commonality of systems, but he cautions that progress likely will be slow.
'It is going to take a decade or two to get there, because we have so many case management systems going,' he said. 'You don't just convert everybody at once, you convert them on a gradual basis that is practical, based on the amount of funds available and the amount of disruption you can take.'