Homeland Security Raising Awareness, If Not Spending

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The Homeland Security Act is raising awareness of security issues nationwide, but the early play for two major players in the high technology products business is to exploit the massive government reorganization that's going on.

Asked if Homeland Security is having any direct impact on security software product and service buying habits today, International Data Corp. security products research manager Charles Kolodgy says, "Not at this time. As they get better organized, set real goals for what they want to do and have additional funding lined up through Congress, they will."

Government spending on security efforts in 2003 might actually be constrained, he suggests, because many projects have been put on hold until the consolidation of 22 government agencies and 170,000 employees into Homeland Security gets further along.

This massive consolidation effort is fine with BEA, which is set up in Washington with an aggressive sales force and a strong integration story.

"The big bulk of the business for us will be the integration work," says Mark Hogan, vice president and general manger for BEA Government Systems. "The good news is, the government space is where the business is and we are crushing it here. But things we can tag as homeland security spending will be minimal this year."

IBM is also finding that the major impact of increased spending on homeland security is down the road.

"There remains a degree of confusion at the state and local level, where the first responders of police, fire, emergency medical peole and hospitals, will be a large part of the homeland security activity," says Mark Cleverley, a member of IBM's Public Sector Americas e-government strategy team. "At the state and local level, there is uncertainty about where the funds are coming from and going to, and what the characteristics of those funds might be."

He advised state and local officials to put a priority on having systems interoperate, such as through XML and Web services, so that for example, law enforcement professionals can share information across states and multiple agencies quickly.

"I encourage people to think about enterprise architectures and using those to help achieve interoperability," Cleverly says.

A Brookings Institution report released in January on the impact of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security warned that "the complexity of merging so many disparate agencies threatens to distract policymakers from other, more urgent security efforts."

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