Software Merges U.S. Security Efforts

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2002-03-11
Six months after the terrorist attacks on the United States, government offices and integration software makers are showing some progress in their work to close the information loop among agencies at the federal, state and local levels.

Tibco Software Inc., for instance, is readying tests of its new Intelligence Analyst Framework, a hub-and-spoke EAI (enterprise application integration) model for collaboration among agencies. The Palo Alto, Calif., company said it expects to have pilot programs in place at federal intelligence agencies within 30 to 60 days.

The software offers a repository where each agency can store data. It also provides a network connection through which users at the various agencies can request information in any of the hubs. The requests travel on Tibcos proprietary bus software.

The framework is primarily for new intelligence information. However, Tibco officials said that since the network will be built using its messaging backbone, legacy information could be retrieved for data analysis.

Separately, WebMethods Inc., of Fairfax, Va., this week will open its Federal Business Unit, which offers EAI technology to connect the silos of intelligence information that reside in the dozens of federal agencies.

Connecting those systems, which often grew over the years in isolation, became an immediate priority after it became known that various agencies had some information on some of the Sept. 11 terrorists but none of them had enough information to put the complete picture together.

"[After Sept. 11,] we went through a high-paced scenario where people were laying out requirements for more funding—figuring out which projects get funded," said Mark Forman, associate director for IT and e-government at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, in Washington. "Now we have to shift gears, from figuring out what to do and funding requirements to actually taking the money and delivering the results, putting together integrated business processes."

The OMB is working with the Office of Homeland Security to implement an integration plan. President Bush is requesting in his 2003 budget that more than $722 million be spent on homeland security IT programs to improve intelligence gathering and information sharing among agencies.

The OMB late last month released its official e-government strategy. According to the plan, the office this week will produce a set of generally accepted component-based technology models to guide it in developing an architecture for horizontal and vertical agency integration. By the end of next month, it will deliver a federal enterprise architecture repository focused on four areas: homeland security, social services, economic stimulus and back-office operations.

The OMB has a short-term integration goal of creating a cross-agency workflow or tool. In the long term, Forman said he expects "essentially a replacement of the legacy way of doing work."

Forman wouldnt name specific vendors whose products are being considered, but he said some agencies have determined what technologies they need to enhance integration.

"Obviously, middleware has become crucial," said Forman. "Web services has become more relevant, and along with Web services is a business model for making those things work."

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