The news in brief

FSS Commissioner Donna Bennett will leave the agency July 3.

Olivier Douliery

FSS commissioner, deputy to retire

With consolidation of the Federal Supply Service with the Federal Technology Service looming, the top two executives for the Federal Supply Service announced they are retiring.

In an e-mail to FSS workers, Commissioner Donna Bennett announced she will leave July 3, and that Lester Gray, deputy commissioner since 1997, resigned as of June 3.

"This will be a bittersweet moment for me, especially as I acknowledge I will be the last FSS commissioner," Bennett said in her e-mail. Bennett was commissioner for five years.GSA's draft plan draws fire

Congress and industry joined in criticizing the General Services Administration's newly released reorganization plan.

The plan does not follow closely enough legislation now in Congress to combine the Federal Technology and Federal Supply services and merge the IT and General Supply funds, said Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), sponsor of the legislation.

The plan is missing the tighter management control that the House Government Reform Committee envisioned, Davis said. Also missing are details such as reporting structure of the new Federal Acquisition Service, and accountability and compliance with rules, regulations and laws, said officials of the Professional Services Council, Contract Services Association of America, and Information Technology Association of America.

GSA has been working on the draft plan since February. A final strategy is expected in July.

OMB: A-76 saves big bucks

Public-private competitions for agency IT positions garnered expected savings of more than $36,000 per position studied in fiscal 2004, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Agencies opened 2,207 full-time IT positions to competition under OMB Circular A-76, and estimated it would save each department an average of $5.4 million annually over the next five years.

But the American Federation of Government Employees criticized OMB's claims of cost savings as unverifiable and not accurately reflective of costs for privatization reviews, such as a Commerce Department effort that, according to Freedom of Information Act documents, cost more than $40,000 per employee reviewed.

Justice IG: weak IT hurts watch list

A new report from the Justice Department's inspector general said the government's terrorist watch list consolidation center, the Terrorist Screening Center, has suffered from poor IT management.

According to the report, the screening center, which had a $29 million budget for fiscal 2005, lagged in creating a technical advisory group. Also, the Homeland Security Department promised but failed to merge the multiple watch lists last year.

The center's first database ran on proprietary software, was riddled with duplications and could not export data to agencies except via "sneakernet," it said. Center workers had to manually enter daily updates and overwrite the database, eliminating historical information.

The database was phased out in April, replaced by a much-improved second version. But a third version with real-time connectivity to agencies could take years, because it will require upgrades to the other agencies' systems, the report said.

Study finds e-gov stumbling

The Presidential e-Government Initiatives of 2000 have lost much of their steam because people still prefer to interact with federal agencies over the telephone, according to a report from Forrester Research Inc., Cambridge, Mass.

One reason is that citizens contact the government predominantly for personal rather than business reasons, said Alan Webber, a consulting analyst. Although people may use the Internet for other aspects of their lives, they don't completely trust the Web for personal transactions, he said.

Get ready to pitch for JHITS

The Defense Information Systems Agency issued a request for proposals for the $300 million, Joint Hawaii Information Transfer Service contract for telecommunications services in the state.

The program will provide voice and data communications services for the Defense Department and other authorized users in Hawaii via end-to-end, common-user switched and dedicated transmission services.

Proposals for JHITS are due by Aug. 3. DISA plans to award the contract in January 2006.

DHS IG: IT systems unprepared

The Homeland Security Department is not ready to recover its IT systems following a disaster, according to a report from DHS acting Inspector General Richard Skinner.

Fifteen of the 19 IT facilities reviewed either had no recovery sites or only partially operational recovery sites, the IG found. Continuity of operations plans also were inadequate, with deficiencies in 25 of the 31 planning documents reviewed.

To remedy the problems, the IG is recommending the department implement an enterprisewide disaster recovery solution.

DHS seeks ID management info

The Homeland Security Department wants ideas on how to launch a major Identity Management Project for its 180,000 employees, as well as for state, local and federal contractors and officials.

The department has issued a 29-page request for information for a system that could handle up to 2 million authentications daily.

Alliant RFPs expected in August

The request for proposals for the $65 billion Alliant contracts for governmentwide IT services will be issued in August, rather than July as originally planned, according to Neal Fox of the General Services Administration.

GSA will issue the 10-year awards in summer 2006, said Fox, assistant commissioner for commercial acquisitions at the agency's Federal Supply Service. The agency issued draft RFPs for the Alliant Full and Open contract and Alliant Small Business contract March 31.

OMB issues draft changes to FEA

The Office of Management and Budget has given agencies a jump-start in compiling their fiscal 2007 budget requests.

The Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office outlined new subfunctions for the health and human resources business lines, and clarified definitions for two subfunctions and three new lines of business.

The draft FEA Reference Model Revision summary also includes clarifications for the Service and Performance reference models. Officials said they did not update the Technical Reference Model. An interagency task force is updating the Data Reference Model.

IG to probe major DHS deals

Major homeland security IT contracts won by Accenture Ltd., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Unisys Corp. are among more than a dozen IT programs to be scrutinized in coming months by the Homeland Security Department's Office of the Inspector General.

The IG released an updated fiscal 2005 Annual Performance Plan, listing more than 12 planned IT audits, including inquiries into the U.S. Visit screening program, DHS' human resources IT modernization initiative, and IT and telecommunications infrastructure support for the Transportation Security Administration.

House: FBI scrambles to replace VCF

A House Appropriations Committee report said the FBI is hastily preparing its latest attempt at a case-file system and is cutting corners to do so.

According to the report, bureau officials ignored FBI best practices and began building system requirements and a concept of operations for Sentinel, the follow-on to the failed Virtual Case File project, before getting an approved business case. FBI officials said an internal review process would mitigate any potential risk.

In an eerie foreshadowing of the new report's statement about hasty software work, VCF contractor Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego said earlier that its use of parallel software development teams to hasten the case management project contributed to its downfall.

VeriSign gets nod for certificates

VeriSign Inc., Mountain View, Calif., said it has been approved by the Defense Department to issue digital certificates under the External Certificate Authority program.

The certificates are required to access protected government Web sites and applications, including e-mail, remote access and digitally signed documents.

Operational Research Consultants Inc., Chesapeake, Va., is the only other provider approved by the Defense Department to operate ECA services.

Army to award AKO this month

The Army is expected to award one key contract and issue a request for proposals for another by month's end.

The contracts represent $1.4 billion in combined procurements and include the Army Knowledge Online enterprise portal and the General Fund Enterprise Business System, a consolidated approach for the service's financial-management systems.

The service also plans to issue an RFP for its IT Enterprise Solutions-2 Services contract in July. ITES-2S is a nine-year, $20 billion hardware, software and services contract vehicle.

EDS wins Medicaid project

EDS Corp. won a seven-year, $48 million contract from Massachusetts to implement and maintain a new Medicaid management information system. The contract has four option years.

The Plano, Texas, company will replace the state-run Medicaid system with a new Web-based application constructed to use the state's shared infrastructure. This infrastructure includes various shared services, such as enterprise identity management and electronic payments.

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