DHS targets its resources

Homeland Security Department officials awarded a $229 million contract to BearingPoint Inc. last week for work that will pull together scores of administrative and financial systems from the 22 agencies that were merged to create DHS in 2002.

Enterprise resource planning systems, such as those that are part of DHS' Electronically Managing Enterprise Resources for Government Efficiency and Effectiveness (EMERGE2) program, function as back-end systems. But BearingPoint officials said they are critical to DHS' mission of protecting the nation against terrorist attacks.

"The terrorists are coming," said Darryl Moody, senior vice president of homeland security and intelligence at BearingPoint. "They're coming by land, by sea, by air or by [cyberspace]. What this agency needs is to know where its assets are — not [only] for good fiduciary management but [also] for mission success."

DHS officials must be able to properly distribute resources, Moody said.

"You can't do that unless you first have visibility into the assets and can move them around," he said. "A walk-through metal detector is an asset that needs to be tracked. A mobile screening device is an asset." If the Coast Guard has metal detectors and Customs and Border Protection needs them, the EMERGE2 system will enable the Coast Guard to move the devices to where they are needed, he said.

DHS officials made the award about three months later than expected, which they attributed to the complexity of the task. Under EMERGE2, members of the BearingPoint team will design, implement and manage agencywide systems for tracking assets — everything from finances to physical equipment. When the program is completed, DHS employees should have information to quickly locate assets.

Much of that information already exists in systems maintained by the 22 agencies brought together to form DHS or by newly created ones such as the Transportation Security Administration, Moody said. The challenge will be to tear down electronic walls so officials in any of the former agencies have access to information kept by the others.

Although agency and company officials expect to conduct early pilot programs of BearingPoint's integration work, the implementation will take time, said Andrew Maner, chief financial officer at DHS.

"We all know the hard work is all in the development, the execution and the delivery, so we have a lot of work to do," he said. "But it's very important to get a prime [contractor] named [that will] get to work on this."

The first phase, called the conference-room pilot, will validate and demonstrate the BearingPoint solution. Company officials declined to offer details about the product but said the pilot test is nearly ready.

Agency officials said that despite the delay in awarding the contract, they intend to work quickly. "We will always continue to set aggressive schedules because we know the importance of this to homeland security," Maner said. But that urgency has to be balanced with taking the time "to do all needed due diligence," he added.

John Ortego, president of Ortego and Associates, said BearingPoint was a logical choice because of its plan to use database software from Oracle Corp. "Oracle probably already had a 60 percent footprint in DHS," he said.

Unifying the financial systems will make DHS a single department rather than a consortium of agencies in the eyes of policy-makers, he added.

***

Stitching together an agency

Officials at BearingPoint Inc. have named eight systems integration partners for work the company will perform under the Electronically Managing Enterprise Resources for Government Efficiency and Effectiveness contract with the Homeland Security Department. The companies are:

BEA Systems Inc.

Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.

Deloitte Consulting

Global Computer Enterprises Inc.

Hewlett-Packard Co.

Lockheed Martin Information Technology

Sunflower Systems

Thomas & Herbert Consulting LLC

Starting at the beginning

BearingPoint Inc. officials said they will begin work immediately under the Electronically Managing Enterprise Resources for Government Efficiency and Effectiveness contract, and they expect the first demonstration projects to be ready within 60 days.

Darryl Moody, senior vice president of homeland security and intelligence at BearingPoint, said the project will begin by integrating financial and budget resources and then expand to include procurement data, contract actions, physical property, land and other assets.

Moody said many parts of the system will be running within a year, although additional fine-tuning and expansion will be needed in subsequent months. "The entire elephant's not going to walk through the door at once," he said.

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