FBI Chief Information Officer Remarks on Homeland Security in Chicago Speech

CHICAGO, IL, Nov. 1, 2002 -- Darwin John, chief information officer of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation spoke this morning in Chicago, where he addressed homeland security and the implications on corporate America. Mr. John's key message to the audience was that due to the intensity of the moment in the U.S. and around the world, an effective combination of human relationships, strong leadership, world class technology and respect for privacy are what will drive IT success in the future.

Following is a brief review of Mr. John's remarks this morning:

We are dealing with a new kind of threat, and a new level of fear. And my opinion is that with proper relationships, best-in-the-world people and technology and a healthy respect for the balance of privacy and intelligence, that we can and will win this war. It is what will allow us to put out the fires we have while also working on preventing others from starting up. It is what will allow the FBI and other Federal agencies to have access to the technological breakthroughs that will give us the competitive edge over those who mean us harm. We are now in an era of prevention. We have to have all the elements working together so that when the fire occurs we are ready and better prepared.

The situation in which the United States and its citizens find themselves is unlike any other in our history. From a technology perspective, we are confronting the greatest opportunities our industry has ever experienced, and the IT community has never been better prepared to handle this situation. At the same time, information technology is the lightening rod, and is the reason why many things are not happening as well as we would like.

So what are we to do? It is important to make sure we're asking all the right questions, and looking to those with true expertise to help us create the answers. I have had the good fortune since arriving at the FBI to fill a newly created position to be surrounded by intelligent, thoughtful people who bring with them not only the knowledge we all need in confronting the security challenges we face, but also the willingness, the true desire, to be part of the solution.

Among the challenges I feel we need to deal with are the following. First and most important is the human element. It is axiomatic to anyone who follows and is involved in complex technology situations that having people who are trustworthy and who can build lasting relationships with one another is far more important than the technology itself.

Look at the recent sniper attacks in the Washington area. The reason that investigation ran as well as it did was because the personal relationships that existed between the various law enforcement agencies allowed effective communication and technology to play critical roles. Secondly, is the challenge of properly integrating technology so that the information is available when and where we need it. Matching the fingerprint in the sniper case was nothing more complex than making sure that databases were accessible quickly by the right people with the right level of clearance.

And that leads me to the third point, which is mastering the balance between our Nation's need for information about people and organizations that could cause us harm, and the personal privacy our Constitution affords all of us and upon which our existence in this country is based.

Finally, the rule in all of this is that information sharing is the absolute key to any level of success in combating the threats against us. From the human element to the technology infrastructure, the more we share -- the more the President of the United States can rely on the CIA and FBI and other agencies working more closely together, for example -- the better off we'll all be.

Mr. John was in Chicago to join with Blackwell Consulting Services President and CEO Bob Blackwell as he and 200 employees, clients, partners and friends celebrated the firm's 10th anniversary this morning.

About Blackwell Consulting Services

Blackwell Consulting Services is a full-service, full-life cycle management and information technology consulting firm. Headquartered in Chicago, it is the largest minority-owned IT consulting company in the Midwest. BCS is a privately held company with over 200 full-time consultants and technical professionals, with remote offices in Atlanta; Bloomington, Ill.; Boston; and Houston.