Homeland security CIO to gain funds, clout

Homeland Security Department CIO Steve Cooper stands to gain a fourfold budget increase and new control over critical programs as a result of the homeland security appropriations bill Congress approved earlier this week.

Details of the reshaped DHS budget have been trickling out since the Senate cleared the conference report on the bill by voice vote Monday and sent it to President Bush's desk.

Homeland Security Department officials declined to comment on the shift of funds and power to the CIO office, saying they are still reviewing the legislation.

The bill calls for Cooper's budget to increase from about $65 million to $275.3 million.

The funds come in a line item that for the first time assigns budget responsibility for IT projects to the CIO and transfers authority for several programs to that office.

For example, in addition to the $67.3 million Cooper's office is to receive for salaries and expenses, the CIO will oversee the following programs:

  • Wireless program: $3.0 million

  • IT services: $91 million

  • Enterprise architecture and portal technology: $13.0 million

  • Geospatial mapping: $8.0 million

  • Human resources: $21 million

  • Emerge2 program for financial systems: $49 million

  • Security activities: $31 million

  • Terrorist watch list integration: $10 million

  • Enterprise architecture: $9 million

  • IT evaluation related to the department's extranet and intranet: $12 million

  • Additional wireless program funds, in a separate account: $86 million

  • Upgrading border systems: $16 million

  • New radio infrastructure at the border: $52 million

  • Infrastructure optimization and upgrade: $18 million

  • Safecom, a wireless standards program funded under the Science and Technology Directorate for $11.0 million.

No immediate details were available on how the CIO's office would begin the task of integrating terrorist watch lists. That work now is being carried out by the interagency Terrorist Screening Center, an operation with employees from several federal agencies and links with other terrorist centers in the intelligence community--some of which also have responsibility for terrorist lists. See GCN story.

The conference committee directed Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge to create a new departmentwide Geospatial Information System, or E-GIS, capability under the CIO''s office. The lawmakers called for the CIO office to oversee a new Goespatial Management Office to coordinate GIS activity across the department.

The conference committee asked the CIO to develop detailed new reports on each IT project now under way for IT services, security work and wireless programs.

Several large independent IT projects, however, remain under the control of officials in other parts of the department, according to the final spending bill and the conference report.

For example, the U.S. Visit program would receive $340 million. The Border and Transportation Security Directorate would receive an even larger sum, $449.9 million, for automation modernization. Of that sum, $321.7 million is to be devoted to the Automated Commercial Environment and Integrated Trade Data Systems, with $16.7 million going to the ITDS program. The systems manage data related to customs collections and trade information.

The conferees included a nonbinding recommendation that ACE and the Customs and Border Protection modernization projects should "form the core of the department's information system and border security technology, the Container Security Initiative and the Automated Targeting System." The last two programs are devoted to evaluating and stemming threats from persons and cargo entering the country.

BTS would receive additional IT funds in the form of $39.6 million in IT modernization money at its Immigration and Customs Enforcement arm, and $4.2 million for the computer forensic systems at the Cyber Crimes Center.

The conference committee did single out one program for a drastic reduction. The Transportation Worker Identification Credential, which the House had pegged at $65 million and the Senate at $53 million, would receive only $15 million. The conference report said delays in prototyping and evaluating the identity card prompted the reduction.


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