Architecture helps ATF reorg

Since March 2003, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has survived many changes and emerged as a new organization, a Justice Department official said today.

"We did a merger, an acquisition and a divestiture at the same time," said Linda Cureton, deputy assistant director of ATF's Office of Science and Technology and deputy chief information officer for the bureau.

She said the changes occurred with the creation of the Homeland Security Department. ATF split and moved from the Treasury Department to the Justice Department, leaving behind the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Speaking today in Washington, D.C., at the E-Gov Institute's Annual Government Solutions Forum, Cureton said the bureau has coped with the difficult information systems challenges brought about by the changes only because it has a good agencywide technical architecture.

Because of that agencywide plan, she said, the bureau can complete most of its information technology projects on time and within budget, a claim few agencies can make.

Cureton said a hallmark of the bureau is its reliance on investigative systems for sharing information. One of those, the Bomb and Arson Tracking System, was named among the 15 winners of the E-Gov Institute's Pioneer Awards.

That system and other shared databases play a crucial role in the mission of the bureau, she said, which has increased its efforts to do more than reduce crime. Sharing information with state, local and other federal authorities is way to prevent crime.

"The easiest crime to solve," she said, "is the one that didn't happen."

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