Homeland plots modernization path

National Strategy for Homeland Security

During the next seven months, the Homeland Security Department will develop its enterprise architecture road map, bringing together the business needs and technical capabilities of the department, said Steve Cooper, chief information officer at Homeland Security.

Earlier this month, Cooper sent to Congress a set of milestones developed by his office and approved by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. The milestone tasks will help department officials chart a course to modernization as they define their current state of technology and services and their desired state.

The first task is to have a detailed business strategy for the department by March 1, as officials take a closer look at the missions outlined in the National Strategy for Homeland Security.

"We need the next layer down in detail," Cooper said, speaking today at the Enterprise Architecture in Government Conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Potomac Forum Ltd. and Federal Sources Inc.

By June, Cooper wants officials to have documented the current state of business processes across the 22 organizations that make up the department. He said that although they likely will not be able to document all of the current state in that timeframe, 80 percent will be good enough to start making decisions and the rest can be filled in as time goes on.

This task includes making current-state documentation of the information technology in the 22 organizations. Such documentation encompasses looking at infrastructure, applications, a technology's position in its life cycle and its ability to meet business needs.

Cooper said he is especially interested in finding technologies that make users happy and meet their needs, but where there might be a better or more advanced way to fulfill those needs.

By August, Cooper wants a picture of the desired state for the department's business processes. This documentation will have to come from the undersecretaries and will represent a high-level statement of where they want their services to be, Cooper said.

This statement will shape what technology will be needed to support the desired level of service.

By September, all of this will come together in a modernization road map, drawing connections between the current and desired states, Cooper said.

"I'd like a first pass at [making a] road map to close the gap," he said, adding that all of the milestones are interrelated, but "the ones that will be the most challenging will be the ones regarding [the] desired state."

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