• The U.S. Marshals Service, the nation’s first federal law enforcement agency, works to protect the judicial process, apprehend fugitives and transport federal prisoners, and needs advanced digital technologies that can keep up, says CIO Karl Mathias. Credit: AFCEA NOVA
     The U.S. Marshals Service, the nation’s first federal law enforcement agency, works to protect the judicial process, apprehend fugitives and transport federal prisoners, and needs advanced digital technologies that can keep up, says CIO Karl Mathias. Credit: AFCEA NOVA

U.S. Marshals CIO Stresses Mobile Platforms, Other Advancements

March 6, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
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The federal agency is looking to digital capabilities that help aid the capture of fugitives and transport of prisoners.


As the chief information officer and an assistant director of the U.S. Marshals Service, Karl Mathias spends 75 percent to 80 percent of his time on the day-to-day information technology needs of the agency. In order to focus on developing new technologies, he would rather decrease that time, by leveraging advanced technologies that can help “keep the lights on, so to speak, the circuits alive, and the laptops running, patched and secure.”

Speaking to attendees at AFCEA International’s Northern Virginia Chapter's recent Intel Community Information Technology (IT) Day, Mathias explained that the agency’s job is to track down and capture fugitives—which gets a lot of press—as well as to transport prisoners. “Most of our time is spent moving prisoners around the United States, and we move about 188,000 prisoners per year,” Mathias said. “We have the largest civilian air force flying outside of DOD.”

The office of the chief information officer (CIO) is striving to improve the life of a U.S. Marshal deputy out in the field, Mathias stated. Here, CIO staff is working with the operational divisions of the agency to identify their IT needs, “instead of dreaming up things inside the CIO shop,” he said. The effort includes a mobile platform for deputies’ smart phones that performs identify management. 

“This may surprise you, but there is a large segment of our customers that don’t want to tell us who they are when we come running,” he joked. “So now we can run license plates, we can run boats plates, do fingerprint reading, enter in driver’s license numbers, and with cooperation and assistance from the FBI, pull back within a few seconds who that person is and identify them, and potentially get a very violent person off the streets.”

In addition, the CIO’s office is working to modernize the U.S. Marshal’s warrant, prisoner tracking and judicial security systems, and move those systems to the cloud.

Mathias noted that the CIO shop recently reorganized to run more effectively and support the agency mission—“not just the IT mission.” Also, they have added a chief technology officer, Christine Finnelle, who is developing a five-year technology road map for the agency after identifying the state of their current systems.

“Everything we do is going to be bounced against this roadmap,” Mathias clarified. “The roadmap will be vetted not just through the IT shop, but through our operational side.”

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