Integrative Exam Question - January 2004 - Prepared by Frank Field
The US Department
of Homeland Security has recently initiated the US-VISIT program, screening
all visitors to the United States at its borders (see U.S.
Begins Screening Program for Monitoring Foreign Visitors, January
6, 2004 and World
Opinion Is Fragmented on Tighter Security for Visitors, January 7,
2004, both from The New York Times).
Key features of this screening process are (purported to be) a digital fingerprint capture/record technology and the taking of a digital photograph, to be tied to physical identification materials (passports/visas) via a large information system. As the DHS press release states:
Asa Hutchinson, Under Secretary of Border and
Transportation Security of the DHS, has asked you to consider a subset
of the issues that the US-VISIT program will face in the pursuit of its
mission. Note that the above-referenced RFP includes a Mission
and Vision for the program in Section C.1: Mission and Vision of the
US-VISIT Program (pp. 8-10).
In anticipation of receipt of the proposals in response to this RFP, the Under Secretary is assembling a set of analysts to develop the bases upon which these proposals will be evaluated. You are one of these analysts, and you have been tasked with considering the implications of Section C.5.3 of the statement of work: Unique Information Technology Challenges (pp. 20-21). Section C.5.3 outlines the scope of the problem that the contractor will be expected to resolve in terms of consolidation of a host of information collection systems into a single instrument for managing the transit of visitors across the "virtual border" of the United States.
You have been tasked with writing a "white paper" that will outline what the necessary elements of a solution to the issues raised in Section C.5.3 must contain, with particular emphasis upon how to identify the elements that will be required to maximize the likelihood that the contractor will succeed in meeting the objectives of this Section from a technical and organizational perspective while satisfying the policy goals outlined in the mission statement.
The technological issues should be discussed from the perspective of an informed, technically competent engineering policy analyst, rather than that of an IT professional. Others will be tasked with preparing the purely IT assessment guidelines. Rather, you should focus upon issues of complexity, system limits, organizational boundaries, etc. (Please: no discussions of the benefits of the 3rd normal form, T3 lines or strategies for achieving transactional integrity)
In principle, you should require no further research materials other than those that can be accessed through the links supplied here. This is not a question directed at finding out how much you can learn about the various information systems cited; rather, the objective is to see how well you can characterize what you see are the necessary elements of a good approach based upon what you know already.