DHS rushes to finish tech plan

By week's end, the Homeland Security Department wants to finish the document that will define the future of the agency's information technology and business structure.

"We're at a juncture in the department right now where you're watching the sausage be made in front of you," said Lee Holcomb, chief technology officer at DHS.

The department has a Friday deadline for the initial draft of its "to be" enterprise architecture, although Holcomb described it as just a first pass at the future technology architecture for the department. It will be for internal review only, he added. The transition strategy — outlining how officials expect to combine the existing jumble of systems across the 22 organizations into a coherent and consolidated tech infrastructure — is due by October.

Holcomb spoke Wednesday at a conference on solutions architects sponsored by Potomac Forum Ltd. and Federal Sources Inc.

Homeland security officials are reviewing business cases submitted for IT systems and programs for fiscal 2005. But those reviews depend on the enterprise architecture, so Holcomb and others in the office of the chief information officer particularly want to have a thorough transition plan in place for fiscal 2004, he said.

Some smaller groups that came to DHS didn't bring any enterprise architecture expertise with them, because that knowledge was held by their former parent organizations, Holcomb said. Many of these smaller agencies now make up brand new capabilities — such as the Science and Technology, and Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection directorates — and must have that expertise in-house.

Officials are looking at training and education for these organizations, but they are also beginning to discuss the concept of a "draft," which would allow the groups with the most need get the first pick of the people with expertise, Holcomb said.

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