Budget would fund more clout for Justice CIO, spur information sharing

Budget would fund more clout for Justice CIO, spur information sharing

The Justice Department would receive $2.7 billion for IT projects under the administration's fiscal 2006 budget, about a 20 percent increase from the 2005 enacted figure of $2.2 billion. Some of the new money will help spur information sharing and centralize IT budget authority under the CIO.

One area slated for a significant boost is the Justice Information Sharing Technology project, which falls under the Law Enforcement Information Sharing Program. JIST funds would be controlled by Justice CIO Vance Hitch. LEISP and its IT activities involve participation by senior staff from all Justice agencies, according to the department. The JIST program would see its funding increase to $181.5 million in 2006, a huge increase from $24.9 million this year.

According to Justice, the program calls for adopting new information-sharing policies and practices, as well as adoption of a unified IT architecture for the department. One aim of LEISP is to 'resolve information-sharing problems within DOJ,' according to a Justice memorandum. Other goals are:
  • Fostering trust with other law enforcement agencies by adopting a 'need to share' policy

  • Coordinating with other information-sharing projects across the federal government

  • Working with law enforcement agencies nationwide to connect IT systems

  • Focusing on information-sharing needs, not technology capabilities.

Justice is pursuing the program under the aegis of Executive Order 13356, Strengthening the Sharing of Terrorism Information to Protect Americans, and last year's intelligence reform law, known as the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, as well as the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan, an interagency agreement.

Justice plans to use the FBI's Regional Data Exchange, or R-DEx system, as a format for sharing full-text crime information and to build a National Data Exchange, or N-DEx, to provide nationwide criminal reporting and terrorism information-sharing functions. 'N-DEx and R-DEx are elements of the FBI's National Information Sharing Strategy, a component piece of LEISP Strategy designed to improve the FBI's information-sharing throughout the nation,' according to the Justice memo.

One feature of N-DEx and R-DEx will be consistent data-tagging protocols for information about crimes and terrorism, sources inside the department said.

Justice formerly identified the JIST account as the Identification Integration Systems Account, which included spending for the Joint Automated Booking System, the IDENT/IAFIS Integration project to merge fingerprint databases, and other projects.

Justice's 2006 budget proposal states that JIST will help provide secure data communication, design a common case management system and fund the department's office automation projects. Justice is cooperating with the Homeland Security Department to design the Federal Investigative Case Management System, which likely will replace the FBI's foundering Virtual Case File system for case management. [See GCN coverage here.]

According to the budget document: 'A centralized fund, under the control of the DOJ CIO, will ensure that investments in information-sharing technology are well-planned and aligned with the department's overall IT strategy and enterprise architecture. JIST will also ensure that all DOJ components are able to operate in an interoperable environment, particularly with respect to preventing terrorist attacks on the United States.'

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