DARPA Ups the Ante

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to be in the know. And so it plans to spearhead "total information awareness."

DARPA is developing a system that will enable national security analysts to detect, classify, track, understand and pre-empt terrorist attacks against the United States.

The system, parts of which are already operational, will bring together other systems and technologies to help military and intelligence analysts make decisions related to national security, said Robert Popp, deputy director of DARPA's Information Awareness Office.

The new system will combine strategic analysis with knowledge discovery and will promote collaboration among users worldwide by providing access to the most relevant and timely information, Popp said. The system will aid the national security community by identifying terrorists through the transactions they make and work to prevent future attacks, he said.

Total information awareness incorporates transactional data systems, biometric authentication technologies, intelligence data and automated virtual data repositories, with the goal of creating an "end-to-end, closed-loop system," Popp said.

"The goal is put it into environments that are operational," he said Oct. 16 after a panel discussion at the Council of Security and Strategic Technology Organizations conference in Arlington, Va. "There are currently subsets of the tools and technologies being used by analysts to help us understand if they are useful or not."

The Wait on Wireless

Defense Department officials have said for a while that they are working on an enterprisewide wireless security policy, and many have been anxiously awaiting what that policy might do or say.

Well, DOD officials are starting to circulate a draft policy.

"We haven't finished our job," said Carl Consumano, who is heading the wireless security policy for the DOD chief information officer.

DOD officials are working to circulate the policy as widely as possible in the hopes of collecting a range of comments. The policy will undoubtedly need to be reviewed regularly because wireless communications change so quickly, he noted.

But, "with the growing use of wireless capabilities comes increased awareness of vulnerabilities and risks that must be managed," Consumano said. Those must be addressed, and the policy will attempt to do that.

The final version of the policy could be out as soon as the end of the year, officials said.

Air Force Eyes ERP

The Air Force is in the early stages of several pilot projects using commercial enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions to streamline its logistics, financial management and personnel systems.

"There has been a significant shift within the Air Force's philosophy, and we're much more enthusiastic [about] looking at commercial ERP solutions," said the service's CIO, John Gilligan. "We're beginning to see the ERP systems maturing...and we're learning from the other services," such as the Defense Logistics Agency, which is involved in a massive business systems modernization initiative using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions.

Gilligan said that although the Air Force has been successful in Web-enabling the front end of many of its legacy systems and adding capabilities to those, "you can only take legacy systems so far."

"To take a major step forward, the Air Force needs to leverage enterprise solutions, and ERP COTS packages will probably be the best approach," he said.

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About the Authors

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine,, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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