THE NEWS IN BRIEF

TCE's return displeases Davis

The Treasury Department's plan to reopen bidding on its $1 billion Treasury Communications Enterprise contract drew criticism from Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee.

The agency said it plans to accept new submissions from the six previous bidders for TCE, which would provide a single, departmentwide network, including technology, support and management, for its 850 locations.

Davis believes that it's "bad news for the taxpayer that Treasury [is] again moving forward with this fundamentally flawed, haphazardly planned and poorly executed acquisition," said a committee spokesman.

Infrastructure safety takes turn

The Homeland Security Department is taking a cross-sector approach to protecting the nation's critical infrastructure in a new national research and development plan released this month.

Rather than examine critical infrastructure by sector, such as agriculture, financial services or energy, the National Plan for R&D in Support of Critical Infrastructure Protection establishes nine themes to support all sectors, encompass physical and cybersecurity concerns and integrate with other national security strategies: detection and sensor systems; protection and prevention; entry and access portals; insider threats; analysis and decision support systems; response, recovery and reconstitution; emerging threats; advanced architectures and system design; and human and social issues.

IRS wants rules input

The IRS seeks industry comments on a draft statement of work for business rules enterprise management for its Business Systems Modernization program.

The agency intends to acquire software license and maintenance support, training, and technical support services for implementing a business rules management environment including interface, architecture, repository, business process modeling, modeling and analysis, and configuration services.

A business rules environment will let IRS update its systems quickly to reflect tax code and policy changes, the agency said in its posting at FedBizOpps.

Safety Act coverage list grows

Four more products and services have won liability protection from the Homeland Security Department through the Support for Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act (Safety Act).

This makes a total of 23 awards, including 16 certifications for the highest level of liability protection and seven designations with slightly less protection.

The Safety Act was included in the original legislation that created DHS in October 2002.

It aims to encourage contractors to create new anti-terrorism equipment and services by reducing the risk of liability if the technologies fail while preventing or responding to an attack.

Don't consume rotten phish

Internal security exercises conducted by the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and New York state's chief information security officer found that many e-mail recipients fall for phishing scams that appear to have been sent from within their organizations.

These so-called spear phishing attacks involve relatively few messages sent to a selected group, apparently from an address within the organization. Such messages can fly under security radar and generate a high response rate because they appear to be from a senior official.

With effective technological solutions years away, user awareness is the most effective defense against targeted phishing attacks, said Dave Jevans, chairman of the Anti-Phishing Working Group.

NSF funds cybersecurity research

The National Science Foundation awarded $36 million in grants for cybersecurity research projects to protect computer operations at homes, offices and critical infrastructure networks. The grants are part of the foundation's 2005 Cyber Trust program.

The awards include $15 million for two new cybersecurity academic centers: $7.5 million to develop IT for trustworthy voting systems at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and $7.5 million to design, build and validate a secure IT infrastructure for the next-generation electric power grid at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Online Section 508 e-guide

The General Services Administration has developed an electronic guide to help agencies comply with Section 508 requirements to make electronic data accessible by people with disabilities.

The Office of Management and Budget highlighted GSA's Buy Accessible Wizard in a memo to chief information officers and chief acquisition officers that reiterates the importance of complying with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and directing agencies to technical assistance.

Two tapped for secretary posts

President Bush has nominated a defense deputy undersecretary and a corporate vice president to serve as secretaries of the Air Force and Navy, respectively.

If confirmed by the Senate, Michael Wynne, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, would become Air Force secretary. Donald Winter, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, has been nominated to be Navy secretary.

IT Exchange rules ready

Nearly three years after the E-Government Act of 2002 established a program for senior federal IT employees to gain experience in the private sector for up to two years, the Office of Personnel Management finalized how the program works.

OPM published the final rule in the Federal Register Aug. 16 detailing the ins and outs of the IT Exchange Program.

Agencies may accept employees from the private sector for short-term assignments. But before agencies can detail employees or accept private-sector workers, they must develop departmentwide plans and written agreements.

Deadlines loom for FTS, FSS orders

The fiscal year may end Sept. 30, but agencies only have until Sept. 1 to send new task orders through the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service.

Emily Murphy, GSA's chief acquisition officer, sent a memo last month to agency contracting offices detailing the cutoff date for new orders or funding modifications.

"These cutoff dates provide a reasonable period for making awards by the end of the fiscal year," Murphy said in the memo.

For new orders under the Federal Supply Service, agencies have a little longer ? until Sept. 16.

MCI team set for Networx race

MCI Inc. has put together a team that includes large and small businesses to pursue the General Services Administration's 10-year, $20 billion Networx telecommunications contract.

The long-distance carrier's team includes Anteon International Corp., Computer Sciences Corp., G2 Satellite Solutions Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., TeleTech Government Solutions LLC, WilTel Communications Group Inc., Verizon Wireless, Comtech Telecommunications Corp., Protus IP Solutions Inc. and Proxim Wireless Networks Inc.

MCI will place bids for both the Universal and Enterprise parts of Networx.

EPA releases data hosting RFI

The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking information about industry ability to host geospatial data sets from a variety of sources. EPA has collected vast amounts of geospatial resources, but they are not easily available to the agency's users.

EPA has created or purchased thousands of data sets, such as highway and schools data, at the same time that its program and regional offices have created geospatial information resources necessary for the agency's mission.

EPA would require set-up of online services, data formatting and application support, the agency said in its request for information.
Navy creates IT funds office

Navy creates IT funds office

The Navy will establish an office that will manage how IT funds are allocated.

On Oct. 1, the Office of the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for IT will operate as a component of the Naval Network Warfare Command in Norfolk, Va. The office, initially staffed by 80 people, will be managing the resources and requirements for programs like NMCI and the Outside the Continental United States Navy Enterprise Network in the Far East (One-Net). The latter initiative seeks to replace most of the Navy's disparate networks at major fleet bases and stations.

Some of the key areas the new organization will focus on include asset management, resource alignment, enterprise licenses and cost visibility.

VBrick wins video grant

VBrick Systems Inc. won a $600,000 National Science Foundation grant to develop new technology for digital video applications.

The Wallingford, Conn., company will work on technologies such as high-definition television for broadcast, DVD-quality video streaming for distance learning and video-on-demand for corporate training. VBrick makes video over IP network solutions.

The grant includes funds for research with the intent of commercializing a powerful, cost-effective network video product for the emerging H.264 digital video standard, known as MPEG-4 Part 10, which provides high-fidelity video over low bandwidth.

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