WASHINGTON, D.C.; Feb. 26, 2002 – Overcoming barriers that impede inter-agency information sharing will be necessary if government is to take full advantage of the numerous new technologies available for enabling greater inter-agency cooperation and collaboration in the post-Sept. 11 world, an Accenture representative today told members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy.
Testifying as an expert in applying best-available private-sector technology to aid in homeland security, Steve Rohleder, managing partner of Accenture’s USA Government practice, made his second appearance in less than three months before a congressional subcommittee looking into ways to fortify the nation’s defense technology and communications infrastructure.
Politics and “turf battles” emerged as a significant obstacle to information sharing among government agencies, Rohleder told the subcommittee. He cited preliminary findings from a new Accenture-commissioned study that examines the problem’s impact among agencies involved in Homeland Defense. “This finding should come as no surprise,” Rohleder said. “However, it is an important challenge that leadership at all levels of government will need to acknowledge and develop strategies to solve.”
He added that by applying commercial best practices, government could overcome other obstacles, such as infrastructure, communications, culture and budget. He also recommended that Congress consider using the budget process to encourage cross-agency information sharing by providing earmarked funding or issuing mandates to improve information sharing.
Although dozens of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies gathered information in the aftermath of Sept. 11, little was shared or aggregated into a coherent picture about terrorist activity within the United States, Rohleder said. “This does not mean that the system isn’t working. Rather, the system has been based on an old economy model – one that is bureaucratic, hierarchical, compartmentalized and labor intensive. Today, we need to transform government to a New Economy model that is flexible, networked and automated.”
“Connecting government is more difficult, and more powerful, than creating government,” Rohleder said. “Although political, historical and bureaucratic forces have prevented physical integration of government communication channels in the past, creation of a virtual agency to coordinate efforts will help enable disparate branches and levels of government to achieve an unprecedented level of cooperation – consequently, government and law enforcement officials will be able to act in unison to quickly gather information, accurately assess it and effectively disseminate it.”
Although links between disparate government systems today are difficult to make, technology can simplify knowledge management and collaboration among agencies, while protecting and securing data that historically has been kept under tight intra-agency control due to legal or investigative reasons. These technologies include:
While privacy and legal concerns must be considered, sacrificing privacy for security is not necessary, Rohleder told the subcommittee. “Information technology can – and must be – deployed in ways that respect privacy,” he said. “Congress will need to balance the tradeoffs between allowing individuals to keep certain private data, while permitting use of other information for economic and social purposes. Today’s technology, we believe, can perform both social objectives.”
Accenture’s USA Government practice has provided services to virtually every Federal Department and state and local agencies across the country. Since Sept. 11, Accenture has assisted states and the federal government on a number of homeland security-related initiatives. These include launching and bringing to full operation within three days the New York City Family Assistance Center, to provide support and services to the families of victims and workers at the World Trade Center site. Accenture also participates in the National Association of Counties’ Homeland Security Taskforce.
Accenture is the world’s leading management and technology services organization. Through its network of businesses approach -- in which the company enhances its consulting and outsourcing expertise through alliances, affiliated companies and other capabilities -- Accenture delivers innovations that help clients across all industries quickly realize their visions. With more than 75,000 people in 47 countries, the company generated net revenues of $11.44 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2001. Its home page is www.accenture.com.