Firms offer homeland advice

The proposed Homeland Security Department should look to the private sector for possible models on the massive enterprise integration initiative it faces, according to a panel of industry experts.

Speaking June 11 at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's TechNet International 2002 in Washington, D.C., Donald Zimmerman, chief executive officer of Synergy Inc., said that he had recently concluded a study of successful firms and identified some similar characteristics in their enterprise implementation strategies.

Based on that information, Zimmerman said a Homeland Security Department should have a standards-based architecture independent of any vendor and should maximize its use of commercial off-the-shelf products. He also said the department would need a rapid acquisition cycle. Competition is essential — but although working with a single vendor is not sufficient, working with 10 isn't necessary, either. And department officials should exercise rapid prototyping and development that establishes pilot programs and test beds in three months or less, Zimmerman said.

Alan Harbitter, chief technology officer at PEC Solutions Inc., said some staple technologies could make such things happen, including enterprise application integration, biometric authentication and Web services.

Ronald Richard, a member of the business advisory board and former chief operating officer at In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital arm, noted the department would need to acquire language translators, as well as data mining and data linkage tools.

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