Capellas: Homeland defense is teamwork

Hewlett-Packard President Michael Capellas tells attendees at a conference that the government will need to adapt to integrate technology into its homeland security efforts.

Margaret Kane Former Staff writer, CNET News
Margaret is a former news editor for CNET News, based in the Boston bureau.
Margaret Kane
2 min read
WASHINGTON--The challenge for the government in adapting technology to homeland defense lies not with the technology, but with the policies behind it, Hewlett-Packard President Michael Capellas told attendees at a conference here.

"This is not a technology problem," Capellas said on Thursday. "We have the technology. And it's really not a money issue. It's an integration issue. It's how do we get all this data to work together and how do we take the steps together to execute."

Capellas' comments echoed statements made by Thomas Siebel at his keynote earlier in the day at the E-Gov 2002 conference. Siebel demonstrated his company's homeland security product, built off of existing customer relationship management software. Those sorts of products may require agencies to share information that has previously been insulated.

"We have a culture in all our judicial, governmental and law enforcement agencies of keeping information private," Siebel said, "That may have to change."

Another major problem that needs to be resolved is government procurement policy, which leads to piecemeal approaches that end up being more expensive than integrated efforts, Capellas said.

"Government RFPs (request for proposals) and procurement cycles are absolutely not the right thing," said Capellas, receiving applause from the audience. They "actively encourage you not to put pieces together but to sell each piece at the cheapest possible price, even if it will cost more to put it together."

Capellas, coming off the deeply complicated HP and Compaq Computer merger, offered his sympathies to those in charge of putting together the new department of homeland defense. "I share your pain," he said, noting the problems of combining hundreds of thousands of workers with different goals and agendas.

And he acknowledged that while he was "particularly pleased" with HP's recent launch as a newly combined business, he was prepared for the "psychological lull" that could follow.

"You will always go through a bit of growing pains on that phase," Capellas said.

His advice to the new department: Encourage people to believe that they are all on the same team, integrate security procedures, and agree on common data that can be shared between teams.

"It doesn't mean you have to break down sovereignty, but you have to agree on what data to share," Capellas said.