Money stalls homeland efforts

The Office of Homeland Security has spent the past six months defining homeland security information technology needs at the federal, state and local levels as well as identifying existing initiatives that can be expanded to fill those needs.

But without money, officials can only go so far, said Steve Cooper, senior director of information integration and chief information officer at the office, Oct. 31 at the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association's annual budget forecast conference.

The bill to create the proposed Homeland Security Department includes a request for about $12 million for IT pilot projects in areas such as law enforcement and public health and about $8 million to fully develop a homeland security enterprise architecture that will guide future investment.

The administration is "cautiously optimistic" that Congress will act on the bill before the end of the year, Cooper said, but until that money comes through, the office can only gather information.

The office also is waiting for appropriations bills that have stalled in Congress, Cooper said. So far, only the Defense Department has received its fiscal 2003 funding.

The money coming from the agencies will go into ongoing e-government projects that are critical to the homeland security effort, particularly for wireless interoperability and geospatial standards and information systems, he said.

"Geospatial is an area that we're targeting for big investment," he said.

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