DHS works on case management

Federal Investigative Case Management System Industry Day Web site

As part of an overarching federal case management initiative, Homeland Security Department officials are working on modernizing the agency's systems to allow federal, state and local law enforcement agents to report, investigate, track and analyze cases electronically.

The departmentwide initiative, called the Consolidated Enforcement Environment, would use enforcement resources to identify threats and violations faster and more accurately. It involves several DHS agencies including Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the U.S. Secret Service, as well as those from the Justice Department.

It is part of a larger initiative, known as the Federal Investigative Case Management System, that is attempting to use common data standards and applications to more easily and efficiently share case information within the federal government and with state and local agencies. Justice is the lead agency developing data standardization.

Case management is only one of the enforcement environment's primary capabilities. Other areas include incident reporting, apprehension management, adjudication and attorney support, intelligence processing, leads management, and command and control.

The goal is to create a single Web-based hub for access to enforcement information for up to 90,000 law enforcement officers. That would eliminate paper case folders, allow for easier data entry, better utilize multimedia information, provide better analysis and linkages of data, provide for faster, more efficient searches, and facilitate electronic exchanges of case materials.

Working groups from Justice and Homeland Security are trying to find common ground on a case management conceptual architecture and design solution, said Steven Cooper, assistant unit chief at ICE's Office of Investigations.

"Does that mean we're going to one case management platform? No," he said after outlining the program to industry representatives this week. "But what it does mean is, we are trying to map an architecture, a framework and a design that will, in fact, allow us or enable us to effectively share applicable enforcement and investigative information across the respective environments."

Referring specifically to the case management process, Cooper said officials will be able to view real-time, applicable sensitive but unclassified data. He said they are still trying to come up with a workable concept to the much more complex process of sharing classified data.

The enforcement environment was launched in May 2003 and should take between 36 months and 48 months to develop, said Cooper, who's worked at ICE for two years after 15 years as a special agent at the U.S. Customs Service. He declined to say how much the initiative could eventually cost, but he did say it is a Level 1 investment similar to the Electronically Managing Enterprise Resources for Government Efficiency and Effectiveness and the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program.

DHS officials, including contractors, are evaluating more than 40 case management platforms. Cooper said they are assessing the current state to determine what they're going to prioritize.

"The government, historically, has not been the best driver as it relates to putting the pieces together, doing the customized coding, the integration," he said. "We are looking to industry to be the lead to bringing that best value to the table."

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