CIOs look to industry on security

The federal government will need industry's help to provide the best and tightest homeland security, officials told Congress Feb. 26.

At a hearing of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee, federal chief information officers said that information sharing and security are their top priorities, and the need is so great that they will have to find new ways to help them.

"There's going to be a lot of outsourcing in our agency," said Patrick Schambach, CIO at the new Transportation Security Administration.

Schambach said his agency already had received advice from such organizations as Cisco Systems Inc., Walt Disney World, FedEx Corp. and Marriott International, which shared their companies' best practices to help set TSA on a fast track.

However, agencies must also think about what technology they have in-house, said State Department CIO Fernando Burbano.

In "the next two years, State will spend more than half a billion dollars procuring new information technology," he said. "We must realize that procurement alone is not the answer. We must meet our business needs using existing technology as well as acquiring new."

Nevertheless, these officials said timely information is vital for homeland security, and "pushing the border outward" is even more important to give the U.S. Customs Service more time to anticipate and stop threats, according to Customs CIO Woody Hall.

"Any efforts to 'push the border outward' must include the direct involvement of our partners in the trade community," Hall said.

The federal government needs to speak with one voice on homeland security issues and make sure that state and local governments are included in communications, said Ron Miller, CIO at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"If the defense of American lives and livelihoods cannot engender within us a motivation to break down the barriers to cooperation and information sharing within the federal government," Miller said, "then we have failed as stewards of the resources with which the American people have entrusted us."

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