by Cisco, well, Microsoft is going to sue the federal government for establishing a standard that's contrary to fair trade."

So, as Los Angeles County CIO Jon Fullinwider says, "Everybody is kind of doing their own thing, doing it a little bit differently, and some people have done nothing and that's unacceptable."

Another problem is the federal government doesn't make a lot of money available for technology, Fullinwider said. "It's not a sexy issue, it's technology and nobody wants to deal with technology."

"The feds are planning to spend billions on enhancing the fidelity of their network infrastructure and intrusion detection and things of that nature so they recognize the need," Fullinwider said. But that money is not being made available to the states. "You go to these meetings with Richard Clark, who's working for (Homeland Security Director Tom) Ridge on the cyber side of the homeland security issue, and he basically just says, we know it's an issue and by the way folks, there is no money. It's kind of up to us, and that's difficult."

One source said that out of the large appropriations that Congress provides, typically upwards of 90 percent stay within the Beltway. "They go to the federal agencies and the other 10 percent trickles down first to the states, then to local government."

What Can They Do?

Aside from aid for bio-terrorism defense, local governments aren't getting funded. Part of the problem is a lack of political savvy on the part of local public safety officials, according to Sander. Public safety officials spend their careers preparing to respond immediately to disasters and don't quite understand why resource allocation takes so long.

"Oftentimes, public safety officials, chiefs, captains and commanders, aren't really well prepared for the process that we're engaged in now, which is principally a political process," Sander said. "It's about positioning, it's about competing for a limited number of dollars within a large political process."

Local agencies would do well to hobnob with some political officials, Sander says. "They need to find themselves some champions. They need to align themselves with people who are more experienced in the political process, who are able to navigate the dangers of a political process." It could be key legislators, sympathetic congressmen or senators or even CIOs, who had to become more adept at handling these issues during Y2K.

"We've had to figure out how to balance the needs with political desires with the need to make demonstration and receive credit," Sander said. "This is a chance for us to participate in making our communities more secure by helping the police chiefs, the fire chiefs and the directors of the departments through this process."

Huge Government Reorganization

State and local officials are waiting anxiously to see what turns up with the new Department of Homeland Security and how that office will effect communications with state and local agencies. Some are concerned that the feds would attempt such a comprehensive, complex reorganization in the middle of the fight.

"Reorganization of government is a very difficult process at any time and to undertake that large a reorganization is quite surprising to me," said Dallas Jones, California's director of Emergency Services.

Plans for the new cabinet-level department remain sketchy, but in essence the department would combine a multitude of agencies and organizations involved in homeland defense into a "single enterprise architecture" designed to eliminate duplicative and poorly coordinated systems. Among other functions, the department could take over some "key cyber-security activities" performed by the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center and the Department of Commerce's Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office.

The idea has potential sources say, but there are a lot of reasons for it to fail. "The focus shifts to who's going

Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor  |  Justice and Public Safety Editor