Senate passes Homeland overhaul

After months of haggling, the Senate passed legislation Nov. 19 creating the Department of Homeland Security, putting teeth in the plan to toughen the nation's defenses against terrorism and authorizing a massive reorganization of the federal government.

The Senate voted 90-9 to fold 22 agencies and 170,000 employees into the new department. The House had approved the legislation last week, and the measure now goes to the White House for President Bush's signature.

"This landmark legislation, the most extensive reorganization of the federal government since the 1940s, will help our nation meet the emerging threats of terrorism in the 21st century," Bush said.

While the new department could take years to build, it will rely, in large part, on information technology to create interoperability, information-sharing and coordination among the agencies that will become part of the new department.

One provision of the bill will help small and minority-owned businesses get a piece of contracts from the department.

"By conducting market research to develop alternative sources for critical technologies to combat terrorism, the federal government will foster healthy competition among qualified sources while successfully executing the president's small business agenda," said Angela Styles, administrator OMB's Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

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