IT efforts focused on homeland
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Aug 28, 2002
More than 80 percent of state and local government officials said one of
their major technology initiatives for next year would be homeland security,
according to a Gartner Inc. analyst. But he cautioned many don't know what
that emphasis will entail.
"That's a huge percentage," said Rishi Sood, research director at Gartner,
which recently completed a national survey. "That percentage obviously is
biased by the fact that [Sept. 11] just occurred and our focus on homeland
security. But if you look under the cover of that data point, state and
local government organizations don't really understand what they need to
do with respect to homeland security today...and they don't have the funding
to deploy those."
Sood spoke about upcoming technology trends and drivers, including homeland
security, in the state and local government market at the Innovative Government
Forum, sponsored by Hansen Information Technologies, in Sacramento, Calif.
In that survey of states, cities and counties, 55 percent of the chief
information officers and other technology and business officials said they
would spend funds on an e-government initiative.
"One of the reasons we're seeing that there is obviously the impact
of homeland security, but also e-government is starting to look and act
differently," said Sood, adding that e-government is shifting toward government-to-business
transactions or government-to-government transactions.
The survey also found 45 percent said such initiatives will be agency-specific
and 20 percent said they would strategically outsource some initiatives,
such as seat management, networking and telecommunications infrastructure.
However, Sood focused a good part of his talk on the impact of homeland
security over the next several years and initially dealing with first responders,
bioterrorism and national infrastructure protection. Affected state and
local agencies would include transportation, public works, health, police,
fire and emergency medical personnel, he said.
Officials also will look at national frameworks, standards and common
architecture tools and use a variety of technologies including wireless
services, geographic information systems and data integration, he said,
adding that physical and cyber security would underlie everything that is
The homeland security challenge, he said, is similar to what the national
highway and transportation system faced in the 1940s when it was building
interstate highways "so we could drive from New York to California."
"We see the technology as the glue to the objectives of homeland security,"
Citing the same Gartner survey, he said 80 percent of the respondents
also expected federal matching grants to be "kicked down" to state and local
governments to fund the homeland technology projects; 45 percent expected
that block grants would be doled out; 35 percent said jurisdictions would
pay for them; 25 percent said agencies would fund them; and 5 percent said
agencies would share funding.
Homeland security will be part of what Sood called "transformative services"
— part of the continuing evolution of digital government.
"Transformation is really talking about more things than just the online
component. It's talking about jurisdictions getting together and building
a singular application so that they can share information across the enterprise,"
But state and local governments are facing challenges as they try to
press forward with technology projects, including Sept. 11-related priorities,
budget revenue shortfalls, an information technology skills shortage and
the turnover of as many as 23 governors. "Given that the fact that it's
a political year, dollars spent on children are always better vote getting
procedures than dollars spent on technology," he said.
Despite the problems, Sood said that state and local IT spending, about
$45 billion, combined with the federal IT spending, about $50 billion, is
the second largest market segment in the United States, second only to financial
services, which represents $150 billion.
"It's a very important statement," he said. "It's a particularly important
statement today. The government from a vendor perspective — and I'm going
to say this with a straight face — is a sexy industry. It really is the
market to be into today. And vendors are very eager to work with you."