Realigning the operations
- By John Moore
- Dec 02, 2001
Federal integrators tend to be a predictable lot. They pride themselves on standard approaches and meth.odologies for delivering projects. Consistency is their watchword.
The government's fledgling homeland security initiative, however, is challenging integrators to rethink how they do business. To wit: Integrators are revisiting time-tested organizational structures, updating their partnering strategies and preparing themselves for what could prove to be a vastly different integration environment. And they are doing this at a time when the nation's specific security requirements have yet to come into sharp focus.
Integrators hope their adjustments will help them bag homeland security-related projects expected to flow from a multitude of government agencies — more than 40 projects, by some estimates. Those agencies are expected to significantly ramp up their information technology spending. The Government Electronics and Information Technology Association believes that homeland security initiatives will help propel federal IT spending to $49 billion in fiscal 2002, a 15 percent boost from the previous fiscal year. That's reason enough for integrators to noodle their business formulas.
Federal customers shouldn't expect a radical transformation, however. Beltway executives are quick to point out that their companies already possess many of the capabilities associated with homeland security — security assessment services, database integration and the like. Some companies contend that they have been on the homeland security track for a year or two, anticipating the government's need to boost critical infrastructure protection.
Nevertheless, integrators anticipate a challenging environment. Bill Gravell, director of information assurance and critical infrastructure protection at TRW Inc., said they must balance the "classic tension" between security and tactical functionality, while dealing with such issues as organizational and individual privacy.
"This will keep a lot of talented systems engineers and computer scientists up nights," Gravell said. "But that's what we need to do."
Tweaking the Organization
Homeland security initiatives will likely cut across myriad federal, state and local agencies. Projects also will span diverse skill sets and technical capabilities.
Integrators, however, often are vertically oriented: Distinct business units and account teams focus on specific agencies. Technical expertise tends to be compartmentalized in specialty groups.
Not surprisingly, integrators have begun to marshal resources from across their companies. Tom Conaway, managing director of federal services at KPMG Consulting Inc., said his unit is organized into Defense Department and civilian agency groups and further subdivided into sectors representing the armed services or functional areas such as health care. But with the nation's new agenda, KPMG is looking beyond its vertical go-to-market strategy.
"For purposes of homeland security, we have put together a market coordination team," Conaway said. The team, from its Tysons Corner, Va., war room, is analyzing agency responses to Sept. 11 and looking for areas in which KPMG solutions from across the federal unit might fit.
The story is much the same at Northrop Grumman Corp. In the days following the attacks, the company put together a homeland security working group with representatives from various business sectors and technology disciplines. Participants include the Integrated Systems Sector, noted for the Air Force/Army Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System; the Electronic Systems Sector, a sensor technology specialist; and the Information Technology Sector, which houses Logicon, PRC and TASC, among others.
The objective, according to Steve Carrier, Northrop Grumman Information Technology's vice president of business development and strategic planning, is to "bring all the sectors in and provide a coordinated offering."
Such efforts are aimed at both internal coordination and external communication. For example, part of Carrier's charter is to clarify for customers which Northrop Grumman contracts provide homeland security-related services. The company is creating marketing collateral and developing briefings for customers.
TRW has launched a small organization to coordinate its homeland security activities, according to Gravell. William Studeman, TRW's vice president for information superiority and a retired Navy admiral, heads the homeland security task force. The group's mission is to identify opportunities and find the appropriate internal group to pursue them, said Gravell, who participates in the task force.
Officials at Anteon Corp. haven't created a specific, standalone task force, but they have asked those in the firm's Intelligence Systems Division to help coordinate homeland security activities among Anteon's five business groups and their associated divisions.
The goal is to "leverage the entire company to bring solutions to the table," said Rod Medford, director of business development for the Intelligence Systems Division. Anteon markets vulnerability assessment, disaster-simulation modeling and other services under the banner of Homeland Security Solutions.
Integrators aren't using the word "reorganization" to describe their homeland security efforts. But neither do they dismiss the job at hand, which amounts to guessing how corporate capabilities might fit government requirements when they are still in a state of flux. "It's like dancing with shadows," said one integration executive.
As requirements evolve, the integrators' task groups are listening closely to what Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge has to say, gleaning what they can from newspapers and mining their own high-level contacts within the government.
For additional guidance, Anteon last month consulted with retired Army Lt. Gen. Patrick Hughes, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. The integrator asked Hughes to critique its homeland security approach, and the general responded with a three-hour briefing for Anteon executives, according to Ken Guest, senior vice president and general manager for Anteon's Information Systems Group.
Guest said one key point made during the seminar was the importance of partnering to "provide a total solution."
That observation appears to be resonating throughout the integration community. Integrators say they are cultivating allies to expand homeland security offerings. But they are rather circumspect when it comes to identifying partners or areas in which they hope to plug gaps. Few companies are willing to tip their alliance hand quite yet.
Still, the rough outlines of partnering arrangements are beginning to form. For example, integrators with expertise in cybersecurity are joining forces with companies that provide physical security.
IBM Global Services Inc., for example, recently announced an alliance with Kroll Inc., which specializes in corporate security and crisis management. "We're partnering with Kroll on the physical security of plants and offices," said Rusine Mitchell-Sinclair, who was recently appointed to head IBM Global Services' Safety and Security Practice.
Conversely, integrators skilled in physical security are partnering to bolster their computer and network security offerings. A number of integration executives mentioned cybersecurity as a prime area for partnering.
Accordingly, managed security services companies have noticed increased interest among federal integrators. Such companies remotely monitor customers' firewalls and intrusion-detection systems, among other security gear.
"Several [integrators] have contacted us," said Bob Wrede, senior vice president of government professional services at Netsec, a managed security services company in Herndon, Va. He said an integrator lacking a security operations center will find it much less expensive to partner with a specialist than to build its own.
Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer at Counterpane Internet Security Inc., said his remote security services com.pany is getting more inquiries from the government arena. Most of his government business is through integrators or resellers, he said.
Beyond cybersecurity, integrators also are seeking allies in fields ranging from biometric technology to expertise in dealing with bioterrorism. David Black, manager of the Global Technology Integration Services Security Specialty at Accenture, said his firm may court biometric vendors or obtain access to the technology through its public-key infrastructure allies.
On the bioterrorism front, Ron McCallum, director of homeland security solutions at Anteon, said his company is looking into marketing a technology developed at Georgetown University for identifying biological agents.
As some integrators reach out for technology allies, SI International Inc. has found partnering resources close to home. The McLean, Va.-based company is tapping its investment banker's portfolio of companies, said Ray Oleson, SI International's chief executive officer. The integrator's financial backer, Frontenac Co., funds numerous IT and telecommunications companies, which have submitted their homeland security-related capabilities to SI International.
Oleson sees ample potential to collaborate with Frontenac's portfolio companies on federal projects. The pool of available expertise runs the gamut from encryption to wireless communication. "We've got access to a lot of great technology companies," he said.
In addition to partnering, federal integrators expect to strengthen their homeland security resources through hiring. But executives such as Oleson believe the biggest wave of homeland security hiring has yet to materialize. When it does, market watchers believe computer security experts and systems engineers will be among those in high demand. TRW already has launched a recruitment campaign for systems engineers.
Pursuing the New Integration
As integrators reposition themselves, some in industry believe homeland security systems will be markedly different from the integration projects of the past.
Gravell said classic command and control systems were vertically oriented, while "the nature of homeland security is the challenge of horizontal integration." Although command and control systems provide a communications path within a single organization, the new systems must integrate data and command structures across different government entities.
Gravell views GovNet, a proposed secure intranet for handling critical government functions, as the shape of things to come. "We think that GovNet is only one of a number of cases in which the government will identify a need for a capability that doesn't necessarily map to a traditional government agency or department. The [requirement] cuts across lines of authority and responsibility."
Indeed, integrators are grappling with a new world. And although they won't be burning the book on integration, they are likely to rewrite a chapter or two.
Moore is a freelance writer based in Chantilly, Va.
How are integrators preparing for homeland security? They are:
* Creating centralized teams to identify homeland security business opportunities.
* Coordinating resources across various business units.
* Mapping their capabilities to emerging homeland security requirements.
* Expanding existing solutions and contracts in new directions.
* Seeking alliance partners to broaden their security offerings.
* Increasing staff in cybersecurity and systems engineering.
* Briefing government customers on their capabilities.
* Anticipating demand for skills in integrating applications and data across government boundaries.