Len Pomata, president of webMethods Federal, testified before the House Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy. The hearing, titled 'Meeting the Homeland Security Mission: Assessing Barriers to, and Technology Solutions for, Robust Information Sharing,' is a part of Congress' ongoing oversight in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Pomata joined high-level representatives from Northrop Grumman, Oracle and KPMG to provide input from the private-sector. Also testifying will be representatives from the General Accounting Office (GAO), Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
'Government has two critical IT problems that are significant impediments to the exchange of strategic information,' said Pomata. 'Government has too many legacy systems that don't communicate with each other and not enough funding to replace them. Congress recognizes that the technology to connect these systems, facilitate information sharing among agencies and get the right information to the right people at the right time is readily available today, straightforward, reliable, secure and inexpensive.'
To help Congress address the larger policy and political issues that are the true barriers to strategic information sharing, Pomata will share with Subcommittee members four key cultural and policy lessons that webMethods has learned in dealing with private-sector and government customers:"
1. Organizations don't usually need to integrate their entire systems, only certain key data elements. Defining those as precisely as possible can make the cultural and policy barriers much lower than they may at first appear;
2. Simply connecting databases and applications does not produce the right information for the right people. It is necessary to define the mission of the particular information-sharing so that a logical process, not an artificial organization, determines who is providing and receiving the information;
3. The purpose of integrating information is not just to distribute it, but to 'push' the right information both to high level decision makers and down to the field;
4. From experience with customers such as Covisint, an ebusiness exchange for major automakers, webMethods has discovered the utility of building an online hub that competitive organizations can plug into without disclosing proprietary information, which is a model the government might consider for homeland security.
More than 50 federal agencies have already selected the webMethods integration platform to connect applications, databases and systems within an organization and between agencies. Federal customers include Army Aviation and Missile Command, several groups within the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, the NSA, NASA, and several agencies within the Department of the Navy.