DHS to organize screening processes

The Homeland Security Department has embarked on a project to organize its screening processes under a single enterprisewide model, according to Lee Smith, director of enterprise architecture for DHS.

The screening will be the first of a number of activities that the department plans to standardize according to its enterprise architecture, a complicated task given the 22 agencies the department oversees, said Smith, who works in DHS' Office of the CIO.

He spoke at a seminar for implementing enterprise architectures sponsored by the Digital Government Institute LLC of Bethesda, Md.

The process to organize screenings will take about 15 weeks, Smith said. Multiple offices within DHS do screenings, such as the Coast Guard and Citizenship and Immigration Services, Smith added. While such agencies may screen anything from people to cargo, their processes share many similar basic characteristics. The agent must match the person or object with its identification tag, and then search databases to find any pertinent background information on the subject.

The CIO's office is now talking with DHS program managers, trying to help them define what activities should be part of the screening process, Smith said. The operational chiefs will define in detail how their screening processes work, while the policy experts will state how such processes should work under current laws and regulations.

At the end of 15 weeks, the CIO's office will synthesize the data into a single business process that describes screening and is reconciled within existing policies. This definition will then help the department's IT office offer better capabilities and let DHS make better business cases for starting new projects, Smith said.

Screening was one of several essential business activities that DHS recognized it could manage from a central perspective, Smith said. Others included intelligence, law enforcement, immigration and incident management.

In addition to these mission areas, the CIO's office also identified a number of underlying enterprisewide services that support all DHS mission areas, R&D, information sharing, identity management, common operating pictures and IT services.

After the process to organize screening gets under way, DHS plans to work on standardizing its information-sharing capabilities. After that, the CIO's office may tackle other enterprise services, such as tools for providing common operating pictures, Smith said.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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