Homeland Security: Washington Reaches Out to State CIOs

The integration of so many federal agencies involved in homeland security (see "Integrating America," Page 44) will require that hundreds of thousands of federal workers show an unprecedented level of cooperation. But the collaboration efforts don’t stop there. The IT leadership of the Office of Homeland Security (OHS) is working out information-sharing plans with state and local governments and the private sector.

Steve Cooper, who is CIO and senior director of information integration at the OHS, spent a couple of days last summer with members of the National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) to flesh out arrangements for sharing information. State and local leaders want to make sure that the relevant security information they generate gets pushed up to Washington. (Cooper says that in this early phase, the states will represent the voice of local governments.) "We have to troll for information in Internet time to send to Washington so those guys can see it as well," says Scott McPherson, CIO of the Florida Department of Corrections and director of information security at the Florida Technology Office.

This collaboration will mean a sea change from the past, when the feds have said, "This is how you’re going to do it," says Rock Regan, Connecticut’s CIO and president of NASCIO.

Cooper is reaching out to industry too. He says OHS has been in touch with the Electronic Industry Association, the Private Sector Council and the Industry Advisory Council. "We’ve gone to those groups and asked, Would you be willing to create a task group? And second, Would your members be willing to let [OHS IT leaders] come and have a dialogue? This is how we’re beginning to engage the private sector," he says.

Cooper is keen on garnering lots of input into the homeland security architecture plan. "It’s not just federal CIOs sitting in a room by themselves, operating in a vacuum, [with a plan to] dump something on the rest of the nation and say, OK, here it is," he says, sounding like a man who believes that national security is a team?not a Washington?effort.

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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