Pausing to Reflect on Technology and Associated Challenges of Preventing Terrorism

By steve, July 7, 2005 9:50 pm

The events that occurred in London today are simply horrific. Thoughts and prayers to those who have been affected.

In my life, I've had light involvement with only one government project, and it was related to security of the United States and the fight against terrorism. I'm not an expert in the government sector by any stretch of the imagination, but I can appreciate that it is very tough - sometimes seemingly impossible - to try and fight a battle on all fronts.

As a point of reflection, there is an interesting article from the June 15, 2005 edition of that addresses an aspect of the FBI CIO Zalmai Azmi's challenge in information technology and sharing to prevent crime and terrorism. Culture change and Change management lie at the heart of this article (brackets added by me):

Changing the culture at the FBI will be a gargantuan task, Azmi
acknowledges. The job has been so frustrating that many top executives
left after only short stints. Between 2002 and 2003 alone, four CIOs
came and went. And the $170 million [Virtual Case File] VCF system ground through 10
program managers before it was killed. To stop this merry-go-round of
failure, top officials say, the FBI not only has to learn to share
information, which means communicating more honestly and more
frequently with executives and field agents, it needs to establish
basic IT management disciplines. As the agency's newly appointed CIO,
Azmi is working to win buy-in from agents in the field so that the next
case management system does not run aground. His team has almost
completed an enterprise architecture that will lay out standards for a
Bureauwide information system.

It is hard to what to do in complex situations like this. But events and loss of life like that which occurred in London today should both serve as fire to drive us and be light to lead us. We should be proud of those that fight to end terrorism. We should honor those whose lives have been forever affected.

Steve Shu

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