The news in brief

GSA sets structure for Alliant

The General Services Administration is forming a national-level staff to oversee its 10-year, multibillion-dollar Alliant IT services contract and shifting the program's management center to Washington.

John Johnson, assistant commissioner of service development and service delivery at the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service, will select a national manager to oversee the governmentwide Alliant contract program. Once the manager and staff members are selected, Alliant, now handled by GSA's San Diego office, will be directed from Washington.

Johnson said he is putting together a review group, composed of new GSA staffers and those working on Alliant, to examine the entire program.

Health monitoring for Gulf

Federal health officials and a Wisconsin medical IT company have set up a daily syndromic surveillance system for many of the hospitals and public health centers in the Gulf Coast disaster region to monitor for early warnings of disease outbreaks.

The Critical Infrastructure Data System, an online resource management and surveillance reporting system developed by EMSystem of West Allis, Wis., is being used to track medical resources and to monitor daily symptoms reported from hospitals, community health centers, mental health facilities and federal intake centers for evacuees in the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina.

FEMA eases Katrina procurements

Federal purchasing officers may spend up to $10 million in goods and services for Hurricane Katrina recovery using simplified procedures with limited competition, according to a new white paper from government acquisition services firm Acquisition Solutions Inc., Oakton, Va.

The threshold for such procurements under the Federal Acquisition Regulation has been raised to $10 million for Katrina relief, up from $5 million, the nine-page report states.

FEMA tapped Acquisitions Solutions to help manage the billions of dollars of spending expected to flow through the agency.

Army grounds spy plane

The Army has told Lockheed Martin Corp. to stop development of a multibillion-dollar battlefield spy plane and given the contractor 60 days to make plans to resolve ongoing production issues.

The Army's Communications and Electronics Command in Fort Monmouth, N.J., runs the $7 billion Aerial Common Sensor program. The weight of the ACS payload and required airframe modifications exceed the structural limits of Lockheed's selected aircraft, the Embraer 145.

Federal Acquisition Service is here

General Services Administration Administrator Stephen Perry earlier this month signed a written order officially combining the Federal Technology and Federal Supply services, meeting agency officials' goal of establishing the Federal Acquisition Service before the end of the fiscal year.

While the new organization is far from complete ? with congressional and personnel changes at the top of the to-do list ? Perry's order sets the wheels in motion to begin the merger. FTS and FSS, however, remain in place until the transfer can be completed effectively, Perry said.

King captains homeland committee

The House Republican Conference has ratified Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

King replaces former congressman Christopher Cox, who gave up the chairmanship and his House seat this summer when President Bush nominated him to become head of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

King beat out several other lawmakers vying for the position, including Republican Reps. Don Young of Alaska, and Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania.

Clarke urges high ID standards

President Bush's former counterterrorism chief has called for the government to set open-source and transparent standards for a federated identity card system, noting that Americans continue to face the dual threats of identity theft and terrorist attack.

"You should want the highest form of technology and security for your privacy information, and frankly, we don't have that today," Richard Clarke said.

A federated identity card would let people use the same user names, passwords or other personal identification to access networks of multiple enterprises to conduct transactions.

Report: U.S. slow on preparedness

The nation's homeland security leaders have shown little or no progress in carrying out the recommendations for anti-terrorism emergency preparedness and response developed in July 2004 by the 9/11 Commission, according to a report by former members of the panel.

The 10-page study cites minimal or unsatisfactory progress on 11 of 14 commission recommendations. The nonprofit 9/11 Public Discourse Project, led by former 9/11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton, issued the report.

Air Force issues space ops RFP

The Air Force Sept. 9 issued a request for proposals for its Air and Space Operations Center Weapon System Integrator procurement, which has an estimated value of between $600 million and $1 billion through 2010.

Proposals for the 10-year contract are due by Oct. 11. The Air Force has not specified an award date, but market research firm Input Inc., Reston, Va., estimates the award will be made in November.

DOD wants RFID for goods

The Defense Department finalized the requirement that all products shipped to the Defense Distribution Depot in Susquehanna, Pa., or San Joaquin, Calif., must have passive radio frequency identification tags.

In a final rule published in the Federal Register, defense officials said contractors must use the tags pallets to improve handling and to speed delivery of assets.

The Defense Department in July 2004 said that all products going to both depots must use RFID tags by Jan. 1, 2005. The notice amends the requirement.

Gaps persist in TSA security

The Transportation Security Administration has improved its network security, but the agency still cannot ensure that critical computer network operations and data are protected from hackers and can be restored following an emergency, according to a new report from the Homeland Security Department's Office of the Inspector General.

TSA falls short in developing and implementing processes such as security testing, monitoring with audit trails, configuration and patch management, and password protection, the report said. Also, contingency plans have not been made final or tested.

Big names on Lockheed's team

Lockheed Martin Corp. has named its team to compete for the $20 billion, nine-year Army IT Enterprise Solutions-2 Services contracting vehicle.

The team includes CACI International Inc., ManTech International Corp., SRA International Inc. and PriceWaterhouse

Coopers LLC, among others, Lockheed Martin said.

Small-business team members will include Blackhawk Management Corp., Cordev Inc., Daston Corp., Dynamix Corp. and SMS Data Products Group Inc.

Alert system needs overhaul

The nation's Emergency Alert System is inadequate and woefully outdated, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service, the research arm of Congress.

The system, designed for 1950s technologies such as radio and broadcast television, badly needs updating to include capabilities to send alerts via the Internet and other IT systems and devices, including e-mail, text messages, cell phones, BlackBerrys and pagers, said the Sept. 2 report.

Networx award dates extended

The General Services Administration has extended the award dates for its $20 billion, 10-year Networx telecommunications contract, said Administrator Stephen Perry.

Awards for the broad-based Universal part will be issued in July 2006, and awards for the specialized Enterprise part will be issued in September 2006, Perry said. Deadlines are Oct. 5 for Universal and Oct. 7 for Enterprise.

Blueprints should address privacy

New IT tools should be used for homeland security only if their intrusiveness on privacy and infringement of due process rights can be adequately addressed in advance, according to a new report from Washington think tank New America Foundation.

The task force of academics examined technologies such as data mining, link analysis, data integration and biometrics, and recommended their deployment in counter-terrorism efforts "if and only if" privacy protections are in place.

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