The Circuit

Feeding the Homeland Account

The Office of Homeland Security is running into a funding roadblock. The office has spent the past six months defining information technology needs at federal, state and local levels and identifying the initiatives already in place that can be built upon. But without money, there are limits to how far officials can go, Steve Cooper, the office's chief information officer, said Oct. 31 at the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association's annual budget forecast conference.

The bill to create the 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 investments. Until that money comes through — and the Bush administration is still "cautiously optimistic" that Congress will act on the bill before the end of the year — the office can only continue to gather information, Cooper said.

The office is also waiting on the spending bills that have stalled in Congress, he 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 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.

Cyberspace Strategy Feedback

The draft of the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace drew plenty of comments and criticism when the White House released it in September, and people seem quite interested in taking advantage of the comment period that is open until Nov. 18, according to Howard Schmidt, vice chairman of the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board.

The draft strategy has been downloaded from the board's site more than 185,000 times, Schmidt said Oct. 31 at a forum on combating e-crime and cyberterrorism sponsored by the Information Technology Association of America and U.S. attorney Paul McNulty's office.

With less than a month left in the comment period, the board has received about 170 individual comments, but officials expect a "deluge" of comments in the last week.

Loose Ends at Treasury

Fred Thompson, a longtime IT official at the Treasury Department, is leaving the federal government amid a reorganization that resulted in cuts to the IT staff.

In an Oct. 24 e-mail message to his friends and colleagues, Thompson said he decided to end his 30-year federal career Nov. 1. Next stop is Hawaii, and then he will look for a job in the private sector.

"I appreciate the support and encouragement that I have gotten from my many friends and colleagues at Treasury during my (almost) five years here as well as during [my] 10 the Internal Revenue Service," Thompson said in his message.

In another move, Mike Parker, director of enterprise IT business planning and assurance for Treasury's CIO office, will become the acting CIO while officials look for a permanent replacement. Parker began his tenure at Treasury as director of financial management for the CIO office in 1999.

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