Sept. 11 Brings New IT Priorities


n the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the federal government has crossed some items off its IT shopping list and added others.

Solutions geared toward security, disaster recovery and data backup are now taking a front seat to the supply chain management and CRM engagements popular among government clients earlier last year, solution providers say. "Sept. 11 has repositioned federal managers' priorities," said Glenn Giles, vice president of the federal solutions group at Boston-based Keane, which does about half of its federal business in civilian agencies and half for the Department of Defense. "There is a lot more focus on homeland defense and any sort of technologies and solutions that can help [reinforce it."

In response to new government IT demands since the attacks, Chantilly, Va.-based GTSI has formed four new technology teams: IT security, Web portal and Internet, task order, and telecommunications, said Scott Rover, business development manager for the integrator's mobile and wireless solutions unit.

These days, government clients also are more willing to consider solutions once deemed too radical, time-consuming or costly, solution providers say.

"What we are seeing now is the government asking for new ways of addressing old problems," said Roger Baker, executive vice president of telecommunications and information assurance at CACI, Arlington, Va. He cited the Government Emergency Telecommunications System (GETS), a backup solution that enables high-ranking government officials to communicate if the national telephone network is compromised. The GETS concept also could be expanded, Baker said. During the World Trade Center attacks, thousands of cell phone users,including firefighters, police and rescue personnel,couldn't make or receive calls when telecom equipment atop the towers and in nearby buildings was damaged or destroyed. But the creation of a lower-level, priority-use system like GETS could provide backup communications for emergency staff in the event of a disaster, he said.

Developing IT solutions that help protect America and its interests often involves applying existing products in new ways, said Robert Nabors, senior vice president of the U.S. government solutions unit at EDS, Plano, Texas.

"There is nothing in the homeland security arena that requires additional technological solutions," said Nabors, an Army veteran. "All the technologies that are required to make a more secure America are available today. They just have to be used differently."

,Amy Rogers