Microsoft: Committed to Homeland Security

Microsoft execs Tom Richey and Michael Byrne, a former DHS official, discuss the company's homeland security strategy, how its products play into that strategy and how Web services will play a major role for Microsoft in the government space.

Microsoft Corp. committed its expertise to the cause of homeland security when it named Tom Richey as director of Homeland Security for Microsoft Public Sector in November of 2002. Most recently, last month the software giant named former U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official Michael Byrne as director of Justice & Public Safety for Microsoft Public Sector. Richey and Byrne spoke with eWEEK Senior Writer Darryl K. Taft about Microsofts homeland security strategy, how its products play into that strategy and how Web services stand to play a major role for the software giant in the government space. The interview was one of Byrnes first since joining Microsoft.

Why is Microsoft in this space? Why do you have a Homeland Security office, and what are you doing?

RICHEY: Our No. 1 goal at Microsoft is to help the president, the secretary of Homeland Security, various governors, mayors and county executives achieve all their goals around homeland security. And we feel that were in a good position to do that because we have a significant presence in the federal government with our technology and in state and local governments, No. 1. So theyve made a significant investment in us and in turn weve made a significant investment in their success. And so we share goals along those lines.

A second most important thing is that the future technology requirements that are needed in the world of homeland security, like other lines of business, is increased ability around collaboration. Thats the Microsoft product roadmap alignment. Thats our future and its our customers future. So theres great alignment there. So were excited about that. The last thing I would say is that its important to recognize that the country cannot continue to spend public dollars at the rate that weve been spending and investing in this. We have to find ways to invest smarter, invest wiser for the long term. And we believe that the Microsoft platform and our ability along the areas of Web services in connecting disparate infrastructures will be an incredible force multiplier thats consistent with the goals and challenges around funding the homeland security needs—at the same time aligning with the federal governments goals around e-government in the business service model and the service reference model.

/zimages/6/28571.gifHow viable is the DHS new biometrics-based, border-entry program? Find out here.

So this is a for-profit initiative by Microsoft?

RICHEY: Yes, but for-profit doesnt mean selling people software they dont need. Its called doing right things right. So its helping our customers invest their public dollars wisely. It doesnt serve Microsofts interests to have our customers buying solutions or technology that dont, one, satisfy their requirement or, two, provide opportunities to build for the future. We want to help our customers be successful in their government goals that the president laid out in the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5, and that the secretary laid out in the National Response Plan. So thats where our focus is.

What I forgot to say is the most important reason youre talking here today is about Mike [Byrne] and that is important. Mikes position here is a valuable and critical component to our team because we didnt have someone in our organization that had the depth of understanding that we required of the first responders community. Mikes background and depth in his work at DHS and with FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] and with the fire department on the ground and with FEMA on the ground in New York City is a perfect fit for rounding out our team. And were just thrilled that Mike has decided to come to Microsoft to operationalize policy.

Next page: What Byrnes brings to the table.