The news in brief

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R.-Calif.)



$13 billion Net-Centric RFP out

The Defense Department Dec. 5 released a request for proposals for converting its legacy systems to the Network Centric Enterprise Services environment.

Encore II has a ceiling of $13 billion over 10 years for hardware, software and services. Requests for proposals are due by Jan. 30.

The Defense Information Systems Agency said it expects to award the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts to vendors by May.

DHS flunks on security

Members of the former 9/11 Commission last week gave the Homeland Security Department failing grades for several IT initiatives.

The commission follow-on group, the Public Discourse Project, gave DHS an "F" for failing to make airport passenger screening improvements, and "Ds" for failing to make vulnerability assessments, update privacy guidelines, collaborate internationally on biometrics, and effect governmentwide information-sharing.

The agency earned "Bs" for its U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology for screening incoming visitors and for standardizing security clearance request procedures.

PKI support for smart cards

The Health and Human Services Department seeks information about technologies to support and manage public-key infrastructure credentials on personal identity verification smart cards.

The PIV cards, to meet Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 requirements for secure forms of identification, must comply with Federal Information Processing Standard 201 and PKI Common Policy Certificate requirements. They also must work with third-party certificate authorities. Responses are due by Dec. 12.

Mass. rethinks MS Office

Massachusetts may use Microsoft Office after all, thanks to the company's pledge to put its format in the hands of an international standards body.

The announcement is a potential about-face for the state, which had declined to use an open Microsoft format for an upcoming document-preservation initiative.

If Microsoft's schema is approved by standards body Ecma International, the company will submit it to the International Standards Organization and grant third parties permission to use the schema without having to pay royalties.

Treasury extends TCE deadline

The Treasury Department likely will delay re-awarding its controversial $1 billion, 10-year Treasury Communications Enterprise contract. It has extended to Dec. 8 the due date for proposals.

Treasury also has extended by two years, to September 2007, its contract with incumbent Northrop Grumman Corp.

The recompete is the result of an award protest that the Government Accountability Office sustained. The protest was based on Treasury's failure to inform bidders of its agreement to move, after the base period, from the TCE to the Networx contract.

Chertoff: Border tech RFPs coming

The Homeland Security Department plans soon to solicit proposals for technology to be fielded along the U.S. border with Canada and Mexico as part of the Secure Border Initiative, according to Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff.

The initiative includes measures such as deploying the additional Border Patrol agents funded by Congress, providing more detention beds for illegal entrants and ending the "catch-and-release" policy under which illegal border crossers have been apprehended, released and assigned adjudication dates that they routinely violate.

Nelson to leave EPA

Kim Nelson, chief information officer at the Environmental Protection Agency since 2001, will leave to take a senior position at Microsoft Corp. in January.

As executive director of e-government in Microsoft's U.S. Public Sector business, Nelson will help develop and execute Microsoft's e-government strategy, working with government CIOs and other leaders to establish long-term strategies and vision for efficient, cost-effective online services, the company said.

OPM seeks modernization help

The Office of Personnel Management is seeking a vendor to support the agency's Retirement Systems Modernization program.

The agency said it is looking for a contractor that will provide business transformation and IT support services for the RSM's existing and future foundation elements. Responses to the RFP are due by Dec. 23.

Cunningham probe widens

[IMGCAP(2)]Following the dramatic confession by Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) that he took more than $2 million in bribes and evaded taxes, attention is being focused on Cunningham's relationship with former Washington defense contractor MZM Inc. and its president, Mitchell Wade.

The plea agreement Cunningham signed identifies "Co-conspirator No. 2" as a defense contractor who is the managing member of a company named "1523 New Hampshire Ave. LLC." That is the address of MZM Inc.

SmartBuy expands to hardware

After the incremental but growing success of the SmartBuy enterprise software licensing program, the Office of Management and Budget is expanding the concept to IT hardware.

Under the Office of Federal Procurement Policy's Strategic Sourcing Initiative, an agency working group will look at how to buy IT hardware and some commodities, including cell phones, using the federal government's volume purchasing power.

IG: ID verification needs biometrics

Homeland Security Department procedures for verifying identities of people applying for U.S. residency and citizenship are still vulnerable to fraud and are overly reliant on paper documents, according to a new report from the department's Inspector General Richard Skinner.

To reduce fraud and better check identities, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency should make greater use of biometrics, but to date there are no firm plans for doing so, the report said.

DOD shops for telepharmacy

The Defense Department is researching commercially available products for a telepharmacy application for its Military Health System.

Telepharmacy integrates videoconferencing with pharmacy operations management software located at a central pharmacy site and a remote telepharmacy. It lets a pharmacist at a central pharmacy access a patient medication profile and do a prospective drug use review by computer on each prescription before it is dispensed to the patient at a remote site. Responses are due by Dec. 6.

Wagner to act as FAS chief

The General Services Administration tapped Marty Wagner to be acting commissioner of its new Federal Acquisition Service when Barbara Shelton leaves the post Dec. 21.

Wagner takes over at FAS after a 10-year stint as GSA's associate administrator for governmentwide policy.

Shelton is expected to return to her role as administrator for GSA's Mid-Atlantic region. John Sindelar, deputy associate administrator for the Office of Governmentwide Policy, will fill Wagner's current position on an acting basis.

Saab, 3 SIs chase Army work

Three major systems integrators ? Anteon International Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. ? have teamed with a unit of Swedish aerospace giant Saab AB, to jointly offer solutions to meet future Army simulation and training requirements.

The new team, called the Warfighter Focus (Field Operations Customer Support) Alliance, said its members already provide the Army with most of its training systems for live, virtual and constructive simulation and training.

NASCIO offers interoperability model

The loss of life and property during and after hurricanes Katrina and Rita underscores the inability of public safety officials from different government sectors to communicate with one another and coordinate their efforts, said a research brief from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.

Agencies must share decision-making, accountability, business applications and infrastructure, and work from a coordinated, multijurisdictional plan that involves all stakeholders, the brief said.

NASCIO's step-by-step approach to improved communication is available at www.nascio.org.

IG: Firm rein on Sentinel pays off

FBI experienced a major setback in its failure to deploy the long-awaited paperless records Virtual Case File application, but it's doing better in its management of Sentinel, the successor system, said a new report from the Justice Department's Inspector General.

"As of October 2005, our preliminary assessment is that the FBI has instituted important improvements in its IT management controls and practices that it did not have when it attempted to develop the Virtual Case File," the report said.

L-3, Northrop form Translator team

L-3 Communications Inc. and Northrop Grumman Corp. have joined forces to pursue the Army Interpreter and Translator Management Services program.

The Army Intelligence and Security Command is expected in January to award the lucrative contract, valued at $2.6 billion over five years.

The winning contractor will manage a program to recruit and deploy foreign language interpretation and translation services to support U.S. military forces in Iraq and other parts of the world.

Gulf Coast gets e-health records

The Health and Human Services Department has agreements with two organizations to plan for and promote the use of electronic health records in the Gulf Coast.

The Southern Governors' Association will form the Gulf Coast Health Information Task Force to bring together local and national resources to help area health care providers turn to electronic medical records.

The Louisiana Health and Hospitals Department will develop a prototype of health information sharing and electronic health record support for replication throughout the region.

DHS seeks FirstSource proposals

The Homeland Security Department released its request for proposals for the FirstSource contract, worth up to $3 billion, for acquiring IT commodities.

FirstSource will give DHS access to Web-based commercial catalogs for hardware, software, networking equipment and wireless and reporting technology.

Offers on the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract, an entirely small-business set-aside, are due by Jan. 10. DHS expects to award the contracts in early February.

Informatics market: $1B per year

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the market for intelligence and security informatics IT has grown to $1 billion a year, according to a new report from market research firm C.E. Unterberg, Towbin Inc. and business incubator Chesapeake Innovation Center.

Sales of counterterrorism analytics and software for both private and public companies are expanding at an estimated 20 percent a year and have accounted for $2 billion in mergers and acquisitions in the last 18 months.

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