DHS lays out five for '05

Homeland Security Department

Continuing to build a common technology infrastructure for the Homeland Security Department's (DHS) 22 agencies and developing the workforce are two of the five priorities the department's chief information officers will focus on in 2005.

Charles Armstrong, the CIO for the department's Border and Transportation Security (BTS) directorate, outlined the five priorities during an Industry Advisory Council event on Nov. 4. He said Steve Cooper, the department's CIO, held an executive session about two weeks ago to come up with the "five in '05." They include:

Transformation of the enterprise — which includes coordinating information sharing efforts across the department and ensuring screening and targeting efforts are conducted over secure networks.

Securing the homeland — which includes emphasis on the value of data and information captured through building secure standards.

Finishing the foundation — continuing efforts to build the technology infrastructure.

Standup the startups — that includes building up newly created agencies such as the Science and Technology directorate and the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection directorate.

Empowering the IT workforce — which means ensuring "the right people in the right place with the right talents are able to take on the big transformation," Armstrong said.

Armstrong, who was named the border directorate's first CIO this summer, was joined by CIOs from several agencies housed within the directorate including Rod MacDonald from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), David Zeppieri with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Al Hudson from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Sandy Peavy with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), and Tarrazzia Martin with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Each CIO summarized their agency's efforts within each priority. For example, MacDonald said Customs and Border officials are replacing a legacy system with the Automated Commercial Environment, which will provide a single interface between the trade community and the federal government to speed trade and combat terrorism. Zeppieri said TSA will deploy high-speed operational connectivity at many airports by January as an example of a common-based infrastructure.

Hudson said because ICE's critical mission involves investigation and enforcement, the process where it takes more than two years to acquire and develop technology needs must be reduced to perhaps one year.

"Being fast and right the first time out is the only approach we have now," he said.

Peavy said FLETC, which provides law enforcement training for 81 organizations across state, local, federal and international governments, is focusing more on training agents on counterterrorism. She said they are looking more toward using computer-aided simulation — such as driving simulators — as supplemental training for agents.

Martin said USCIS is focusing on customer service for immigrants and improving information sharing with other relevant agencies, such as BTS, Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration and state and local governments. A larger part of the agency's work is focusing on fraud detection. She said data mining and pattern recognition might be important applications the unit will need to investigate and verify the identities of immigrants.


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