Bush plan backs IT infrastructure

The White House proposes developing a single information technology infrastructure cutting across the many federal organizations that would be folded into a Department of Homeland Security, which President Bush was expected to announce June 6 in a primetime speech.

The proposed department would have four divisions, focused on border and transportation security; emergency preparedness and response; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear countermeasures; and information analysis and infrastructure protection. It will bring together sections of some agencies and the entirety of others under a single organization to truly coordinate all efforts at protection and response.

"Development of a single enterprise architecture for the department would result in elimination of the sub-optimized, duplicative, and poorly coordinated systems that are prevalent in government today," the plan states. "There will be a rational prioritization of projects necessary to fund homeland security missions based on an overall assessment of requirements, rather than a tendency to fund all good ideas beneficial to a separate unit's individual needs, even if similar systems are already in place elsewhere."

A system for interoperable communications between emergency personnel and other first responders will be a "top priority" for the department, according to the plan. And the Bush administration plans for the department to have flexible procurement policies "to encourage innovation and rapid development and operation of critical technologies vital to securing the homeland."

Information sharing and analysis will be another priority for the department to increase the government's ability to prevent possible terrorist attacks. Both personnel and technology will be key factors in enhancing the capability to pull information from across all law enforcement and intelligence agencies for dissemination to the people on the front lines, the plan states.

"The Department of Homeland Security must be an agile, fast-paced, and responsive organization that takes advantage of 21st-century technology and management techniques to meet a 21st-century threat."

Meanwhile, to get a better handle on cybersecurity and infrastructure protection, the White House plan would pull together the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office from the Commerce Department and the National Infrastructure Protection Center from the FBI.

It would also augment those capabilities by bringing in the General Services Administration's Federal Computer Incident Response Center, which is responsible for governmentwide incident analysis and warnings, and the Defense Information Systems Agency's National Communications System, which coordinates priority and emergency telecommunications needs.

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