Homeland security wish list set

Although the debate over creating a Homeland Security Department is stalled in Congress, officials have quietly drawn up a list of their top priorities to jump-start the agency if and when lawmakers approve it.

Jim Flyzik, a senior adviser at the Office of Homeland Security, said Oct. 23 that the first priority would be consolidating the 58 government watch lists of suspected terrorists into a single list.

One of many errors disclosed in the wake of last year's Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was that the names of suspected terrorists had been available on one classified watch list, but the information was not shared with other agencies that might have been able to stop the terrorists before they entered the United States.

"How fast we can move depends on the legislation," Flyzik said.

Despite the stalemate over the Homeland Security Department in Congress, Flyzik and agency chief information officers have been meeting regularly to hammer out a plan for the new department. In addition to consolidating the watch lists, he said officials hope to develop:

* A single portal for the department.

* Secure videoconferencing for federal, state and local officials.

* Secure Internet expansion so law enforcement agencies across the country can share information.

* A classified collaborative environment.

"This is not about Washington, D.C., and the federal government. This is about a national effort," Flyzik said. "The goal is to get the right information to the right people at the right time."

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