WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has completed its first version of an enterprise architecture (EA) plan although, according to DHS CIO Steven I. Cooper, it will take another 12-24 months to completely stabilize the infrastructure of the massive new government bureaucracy.
Cooper told the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology and Information Policy Wednesday that the EA and its transition strategy propose an IT environment “that is vastly different from one that exists today.”
In the largest consolidation of federal agencies since Harry Truman merged the various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces into the Department of Defense, the DHS combined all or part of 22 federal agencies in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 1, 2001.
In consolidating these agencies, the DHS is facing a large collection of legacy systems for a variety of missions, from securing borders to providing intelligence data and identifying “subjects of interest.” The agency has more than 1,000 servers and approximately 700 different applications, including more than 300 applications performing some variety of back-office operations. Nearly 50 of those disparate applications have been functioning to prevent and respond to terrorist events.
“We inherited a ton of stuff,” Cooper said. “The EA will help DHS align IT investments with its mission and business needs, and improve data sharing and interoperability with its many information sharing partners.”
Cooper said the new plan focuses on capturing new data at its source, avoiding costly multiple data capture; allowing data access by multiple applications, so that data once collected is available to all decision makers; and leverages; and leveraging information sources that decision makers might not normally have access to.
DHS has been working on its first EA, a blueprint for future action, since May. Working with a five-month, $1.2 million contract, a team of contractors working for Science Applications International Corp. helped DHS draft the initial plan.
“We have accomplished something unique in federal government: we designed and delivered a comprehensive — and immediately useful — target EA in under four months,” Cooper said. “Our EA is enabling us to make decisions about our IT investments now, even as we continue the hard work of developing greater detail, reaching deeper to find more opportunities for consolidation and beginning to develop new and improved mission support capabilities.”
Cooper said DHS began its planning efforts as a beginning point for integrating its business processes, data, application systems and IT to create a unified, interoperable infrastructure and a modern, adaptable and interoperable set of applications based on the business needs of DHS.
“First and foremost, it (the EA) it is business driven; that is, it is based on the mission needs of DHS, that, in turn, drive the target IT architecture,” said Cooper. “Also, the Target EA has been constructed to provide the necessary agility to enable rapid changes in response to new threats through flexible component and service-based applications.”