The news in brief

Wireless mesh networking at Cisco

Cisco Systems Inc. entered the burgeoning field of wireless mesh networking providers angling for municipal WiFi projects.

The new line of Cisco Aironet 1500 outdoor access points uses the company's own Adaptive Wireless Path Protocol to intelligently route wireless LAN traffic.

According to Cisco, Aironet 1500's dual radios ? one is dedicated to communication between access points ? make it easier to segment the network for emergency and nonemergency services, as well as public access.

Microsoft eyes supercomputing

With this month's beta release of Windows Compute Cluster Server, Microsoft Corp. entered the high-performance computer market -- or at least the lower reaches of that market.

The company is pitching the operating system to engineers and researchers "who would like some power, but don't want to have to take their computer jobs to a supercomputer center," said John Borozan, group product manager for the Windows server division.

By running the operating system on groups of servers, offices and departments could run small supercomputing clusters.

Winter is new Navy secretary

Most recently president of Northrop Grumman's Mission Systems sector, Donald Winter in the early 1980s was program manager for space acquisition at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, where he won the Secretary of Defense Medal for meritorious civilian service.

Winter succeeds Gordon England, who was named deputy secretary of defense earlier this year.

Reorg may mean new fees

As the General Services Administration undergoes its dramatic reorganization, the agency is contemplating changing how it sets its fees for doing business.

The agency's chief financial officer is reviewing the agency's fee system, said Barbara Shelton, acting commissioner of GSA's newly formed Federal Acquisition Service. Fees reflect the different business models and lines in FAS and GSA.

The study will find a way to make the fee structure more rational, Shelton said.

Fed info sharing picks up

The federal government's Information-Sharing Environment is hiring staff, consulting with a newly created Information Sharing Council and organizing pilot projects, the environment's program manager testified this month.

John Russack, who also chairs the council, said the environment would need about $30 million for 2006.

The environment's appropriated budget for 2005 was $9.6 million, but in 2006 there is no line item budget for it, he said.

Viisage protests Digimarc deal

Viisage Technology Inc. filed a protest against rival Digimarc Corp.'s five-year, $30 million contract in Texas to add biometric features to the state's driver's license.

Digimarc won the contract in October, beating out driver's license production market rival Viisage.

Viisage officials are still evaluating Digimarc's contract to determine differences, but a company spokeswoman said Viisage's proposal was for at least $10 million less.

DHS' Rothwell to step down

Greg Rothwell, the Homeland Security Department's procurement chief, announced in an e-mail to his staff that his last day would be Dec. 2.

Rothwell has been with DHS since July 2003 and has overseen every major agency acquisition from the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology system to the upcoming Eagle and First Source procurements.

No replacement has been picked. Elaine Duke is Rothwell's deputy chief procurement officer.

TSA finance reporting flawed

The Transportation Security Administration has material weaknesses in financial reporting and internal controls applications, largely legacy systems inherited from the Transportation Department, said an audit by Homeland Security Department Inspector General Richard Skinner.

The evaluation found major deficiencies in TSA's IT access and segregation-of-duties controls for primary financial applications owned and operated by the Transportation Department. TSA uses Delphi, Transportation's core accounting system, to process and record financial transactions.

Symplicity loses protest, again

The Government Accountability Office may finally have ended the two-year saga surrounding the refurbishing of the USAjobs.gov Web site.

GAO this month rejected a second protest by Symplicity Corp. of the Office of Personnel Management's contract award to Monster Government Solutions to run the government's online employment portal.

GAO had upheld Symplicity's January protest of the original award to Monster. OPM recompeted the contract after Congress threatened to withhold future project funding.

OPM again awarded Monster the contract, which Symplicity again protested.

Grimes onboard as Defense CIO

Former Raytheon Co. vice president John Grimes was confirmed as the Defense Department's new CIO, filling a position that had been without a permanent IT leader for more than a year and a half.

Grimes replaces Linton Wells, who was acting CIO and assistant secretary for networks and information integration since former CIO John Stenbit left the department in March 2004.

GPO prepares storage RFP

The Government Printing Office is finalizing a $29 million solicitation for a chief contractor that will do the heavy lifting for the agency's data storage modernization project.

Mike Wash, GPO's chief technology officer, said the agency is "putting the finishing touches" on the preliminary request for proposals for its Future Digital Information System project, known as FDsys.

The project will convert to a digital format nearly every federal document ever published and change the way GPO collects, authenticates, stores and shares federal documents.

VA takes time with Peaches 3

Although the Veterans Affairs Department recently released a draft solicitation for its next-generation, departmentwide hardware and software Procurement of Computer Hardware and Software, known as Peaches 3, the final $1.4 billion request for proposals may be awhile coming.

VA CIO Robert McFarland said he wants the extra time to avoid duplicating Peaches 2's weaknesses, including a failure to require sufficient information and accountability. Peaches 2 is not an effective contract, he said.

SecureInfo wins NASA contract

SecureInfo Corp. won a contract from NASA to supply software for the agency's risk management system used for compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act in certification and accreditation.

The value of the contract was not released, but SecureInfo said it was a multimillion-dollar purchase made through a GSA vehicle.

Leadership change at Apogen

Paul Leslie, president and chief operating officer of Apogen Technologies Inc., will take over leadership of the company at the end of the year after Todd Stottlemyer assumes the top spot at the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Leslie and Stottlemyer, who helped form Apogen in 2003, completed the sale in September of Apogen to British defense company QinetiQ Plc. Apogen is the U.S. IT platform for that company.

Report: Punish poor info security

Congress may want to consider penalizing organizations and companies that have poor information security policies that contribute to a major loss of sensitive information, according to "Terrorist Capabilities for Cyberattack," a new Congressional Research Service report.

Congress also may consider whether IT vendors should be required to report to the Homeland Security Department any "major security vulnerabilities that have been newly exploited by cybercriminals," the report said.

IBM recruits Boeing, L-3 team

As Army officials evaluate proposals for $20 billion worth of IT contracts, one prime contractor vying for the work announced the roster of companies on its team.

Primary partners for IBM Corp., competing for a piece of the IT Enterprise Solutions-2 Services contract, are BBN Technologies, Boeing Co., Jacobs Engineering Group and L-3 Communications Inc. The team also includes more than 20 other technology companies.

Report: FEMA databases at risk

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is not adequately protecting its core databases containing sensitive disaster relief information, according to a new report from Homeland Security Department Inspector General Richard Skinner.

FEMA, which comprises the bulk of the DHS' Emergency Preparedness and Response directorate, has improved its IT security by establishing a process to manage change and a contingency plan, the report said.

However, FEMA has not implemented effective access controls and continuity of operations safeguards, nor has it conducted contingency plan training or testing.

System tracks contract steps online

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is requiring civilian government contractors to use a new online reporting system for tracking federal subcontracting goals.

An OFPP memorandum said that Defense Department contractors also will likely begin using the new Electronic Subcontracting Reporting System in the second quarter of fiscal 2006. The system went live Oct. 28.

Civilian agencies and their contractors must begin submitting subcontracting data online for fiscal 2004 and 2005.

SmartBuy deal close to ready

The General Services Administration said it is close to a cybersecurity software agreement for a Cabinet-level agency with Computer Associates International Inc. under the agency's SmartBuy enterprise-licensing program.

GSA issued a notice on the FedBizOpps Web site stating that the agency "contemplates" a SmartBuy agreement for CA's anti-virus software.

The posting gives agencies notice that a deal is imminent and they should not buy CA's anti-virus tools until an agreement is reached.

Katrina kicked telecom setup

A recent Federal Communications Commission meeting with executives from BellSouth Corp. and Verizon Wireless Inc. on Hurricane Katrina outages revealed that physical infrastructure remains the Achilles' heel of networks in disaster situations.

During the hurricane, major issues for the Gulf Coast telecom providers included getting enough power, keeping basic infrastructure running and providing physical security for workers and equipment.

Through an interagency working group to be established this winter, OFPP hopes to follow the work the General Services Administration did in reviewing and consolidating repetitive governmentwide acquisition contracts, said Robert Burton, OFPP deputy administrator.

The working group will further address the proper and strategic use of multiple award contracts, Burton said.

DHS releases NIPP

The Homeland Security Department released its draft National Infrastructure Protection Plan establishing a framework for working with the private sector to protect the nation's critical assets and key resources such as energy, water and food supplies, health care, transportation and IT systems.

The 175-page document was authorized under Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7, and is available for review and public comment until Dec. 5. An interim version was released in February.

Mass. lawmakers IT review board

Citing concern about an apparent lack of due process in the office of Massachusetts chief information officer, state senators have developed legislation calling for an IT oversight committee to evaluate all proposed implementations of standards.

The proposal closely follows the release of the Enterprise Technical Reference Model that the state's Information Technology Division issued in September. Since its release, the model has sparked debate over its mandates that state offices use an open standardized format called OpenDocument for office productivity applications.

Multiple award contracts studied

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy will take a closer look at whether multiple award contracts are duplicative, and if so, which ones.

Through an interagency working group to be established this winter, OFPP hopes to follow the work the General Services Administration did in reviewing and consolidating repetitive governmentwide acquisition contracts, said Robert Burton, OFPP deputy administrator.

The working group will further address the proper and strategic use of multiple award contracts, Burton said.

VA CIO gets budget authority

The House unanimously approved H.R. 4061, the Department of Veterans Affairs Information Technology Management Improvement Act, giving VA's CIO authority over IT budgets, personnel and assets.

Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and the sponsor of the legislation, threatened to cut more funds from VA's IT budget request next year if the department does not follow the directive.

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