Dec 31 2009

In Pursuit of Perfection

Photo: Mark Battrell

In an age of ever-evolving systems capabilities, security is the quest that never ends. That’s not a value judgment; it’s just the nature of the game.

We have to ensure that every possible avenue is explored in seeking ways to foil hackers, short-circuit information crooks, prevent terrorists from causing untold mayhem and simply make sure we don’t inadvertently lose vital information in the vastness of cyberspace.

It’s often said that the general level of sensitivity to security issues is actually a function of one’s own insecurity, or at least of one’s concern quotient regarding threats both real and imagined. In a systems environment, trying to implement better security measures simply makes all the sense in the world.

It makes sense from a practical standpoint. And it makes sense from a tactical standpoint — particularly in relation to ongoing efforts to build and sustain trust among agencies vis-à-vis the work they accomplish and their constituents, the taxpayers.

When concern for security evolvesinto a real element of the ultimate achievement of agency employees, it will build a measure of trust that no line-item expenditure can substantively advance. In the final analysis, that heightened level of trust may well prove a certifiably timeless accomplishment.

That’s where risk management comes in, focusing on the worst-case scenario and improving systems through implementing lessons learned. As spelled out in the Best Practice article here, security can never be taken lightly. Find out how agencies across all levels of government are bolstering their systems and ferreting out vulnerabilities.

Smart Sharing

In all these endeavors, the bulk of the responsibility — and therefore the success or failure of any given effort — rests squarely on the shoulders of government project managers. So just how do you find the right people with the requisite skills and proven competence to tackle your systems challenges and manage major upgrades?

One guidepost is certification, coupled with hands-on experience. Those streams of letters behind a project manager’s title do count for something: Just ask recently retired Interior Department CIO W. Hord Tipton. In his “Exit Interview” article here , Tipton relates how the skills gained through training and certification help ensure project success.

There’s yet another huge factor in the on-going saga of fighting terrorism and keeping the bad guys from outflanking national security. And that’s broadening government capabilities to share verifiable information on personal identification across international borders.

The ability to share fingerprint information globally is a top objective of every viable national security organization in the world. Ultimately, creating a “global security envelope” to permanently disrupt terror cabals and criminals is a goal both worthy and noble — and in the long run, it could save countless lives and secure billions in government assets. Turn to the “Worldwide View” feature here to read about potentially significant recent improvements and a general update on global information sharing.

More often than not, there is a common string among the government’s IT pursuits, and there’s always the challenge of integrating security.

Lee Copeland

Editor in Chief