Homeland Security will consolidate software licenses

Speaking at a Spy Museum breakfast today, Secret Service assistant director Steve Colo said the new Homeland Security Department will consolidate all its component agencies’ software licenses “for the greater good,” looking first at large contracts with vendors such as Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp.

Colo said HSD “must quickly stand up an enterprise architecture,” and the components’ CIOs “know where they want to go.” He predicted HSD agencies will see a lot more of the kind of total IT outsourcing pioneered by Transportation Security Administration systems chief Patrick Schambach. But Colo said it will take time—probably three to five years—before there is much consolidation of the very different systems. He also predicted that physical security and IT security issues will merge.

In the communications area, Colo said, HSD needs a priority wireless system for emergencies and interoperable wireless equipment for law enforcement agencies. “The government’s selling off spectrum, and that could affect us,” he said. “It’s a finite item, a major issue.”

Setting up HSD “solves a portion of the problem” of responding to terrorism, but it is not yet a comprehensive framework, he said. “Agencies continue to perform in myopic, stovepiped ways, and the president will not grow the government,” so HSD must be “funded from savings on redundancies.” He said he and other chief financial officers from the Coast Guard, Customs Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Immigration and Naturalization Service, and TSA have set a baseline for their core financial management systems with help from Science Applications International Corp.

The components “need to consolidate and standardize their business practices,” Colo said. “About 80 percent of administrative functions are identical. I really don’t care who purchases the equipment—just get it in good time at a good price.”

After fiscal 2004 budgets are spent—what Colo called “an as-is base”—HSD’s CIO Council will have the say-so over IT spending. Enterprisewide projects can start up at a rate of one per year if the components “mine their base and find 15 percent to 20 percent of the cost,” he said.

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