Officials fit IT into homeland goals

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The Bush administration is advancing quickly to determine how information technology can help agencies achieve the broad homeland security goals outlined by the president in his State of the Union address, officials said Feb. 20.

Senior administration officials said that policy and IT officials must come together to identify how to reach the president's goals — to secure the homeland, win the war against terrorism and restore economic stability — even before Congress can decide on the $722 million requested for homeland security IT projects in fiscal 2003.

To that end, officials from the Office of Homeland Security and the Office of Management and Budget are leading the development of a paper that lays the foundation for that process. The first step is to identify mission objectives for each goal and then to identify specific IT initiatives to reach the objectives, one official said.

For example, the goal to secure the homeland includes an objective to better understand who is coming into the country. One initiative under that objective is the entry/exit system that the Immigration and Naturalization Service will develop.

Key to this process is making sure the objectives are mission-based and are identified by program and policy officials within agencies and the administration, the official said.

Once those mission objectives are set, the IT administrators will determine the best technology solution — based on a strong business case with clear performance measures — to reach the objectives, said another official. The most critical homeland security initiatives will move forward without complete business cases, but that situation will have to be fixed as soon as possible, he said.

Officials expect to finish the paper soon and, once it is approved, will give it to the program office at the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office for implementation, the first official said.

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