Briefs

SBA: Rate small-biz size

A Small Business Administration proposal would ease the annual self-
assessment burden on small businesses.

Under SBA's proposed rule, a small business' size would be calculated by a three-year average number of employees instead of an annual average.
In the event of a protest, the new rule would let companies use Internal Revenue Service W-3 forms, instead of extensive payroll records, to verify the number of employees for each of the past years.

State fusion centers struggling

Tangled technology and unclear missions are hobbling state intelligence fusion centers, according to a nationwide study.

The centers have won praise and federal funds for merging terrorism, law enforcement and all-hazards intelligence, but problems stemming from lack of connectivity with law enforcement databases and poor compliance with federally backed technical data-sharing standards are leaving the centers struggling to produce useful information, auditors said.

DHS financial data at risk

Continued weaknesses in information technology controls at the Homeland Security Department are threatening its efforts to maintain the integrity of financial data, DHS' inspector general said.

An audit by KPMG LLP identified more than 200 findings in fiscal 2006 related to shortcomings in general and application controls. About 150 of the findings were new, and 50 were repeated from previous years.

Eagle Eye lands GSA database

The General Services Administration will issue a sole-source purchase order to Eagle Eye Publishers Inc. for custom programming services to help the agency put federal contract and grant information into an easily searchable public database.
GSA wants advice on developing the database and getting analyzed sets of the information from fiscal 2000 to 2007 and updates in 2008, according to a Federal Business Opportunities notice.

Sun audit battle could be ending

A six-week war of words between the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and Sun Microsystems Inc. over a proposed General Services Administration audit of the company's pricing practices might be nearing an end ? if both sides can agree on a referee.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) insists that GSA Inspector General Brian Miller conduct the probe, but Sun Chairman Scott McNealy said he thinks it would be a conflict of interest and wants the Government Accountability Office to do the audit.

DHS modernizes detention office

The Homeland Security Department's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division issued a presolicitation notice July 24 requesting project management support services for the Office of Detention and Removal.

DHS also wants a program management office to develop and track all program support documentation, integrate project schedules, manage program costs and schedules, measure performance, and provide a program manager with a background in information technology management or finance.

Human services spending boost

State spending on social services information technology will rise by more than $1 billion in 2008, according to a new study from Input Inc.

Ten opportunities totaling $1.4 billion in state spending in 2008 will focus on major integration, case management, eligibility determination, and child support processing and disbursement projects.

Leading the list: $800 million for the troubled Texas Integrated Eligibility Redesign System. A vendor that could get this one back on track, Input said, "will really make a name for themselves."

DOD taps FiXs for credentialing

The Defense Department selected a trusted-identity network developed by the Federation for Identity and Cross-Credentialing Systems as the first enterprisewide solution for cross-credentialing between government and industry.

The systems allow for verification and authentication of credentials between FiXs' member organizations and DOD Common Access Card holders. A DOD employee or a contractor employee, using either a CAC or FiXs-certified credential, can gain authorized access to multiple government and industry facilities.

Risk assessment backlog looms

The Homeland Security Department's Privacy Office faces a huge backlog in informing the public of privacy risks related to more than 200 departmental systems.

The DHS Privacy Office is assembling a framework for conducting assessments and issuing public notices, but backlogs of uncompleted work continue growing in both areas, said Linda Koontz, the Government Accountability Office's director of information management issues.

In February, DHS had 218 systems of records that contain personal information the agency is collecting but for which no updated public notices had been issued under the Privacy Act, Koontz said.

Senate: Thumbs down on Real ID

Border security got an extra $3 billion but Real ID spending took a hit in Senate action on the Homeland Security Department's fiscal 2008 appropriations bill.
Despite urging from governors, the Senate nixed an amendment to allocate $300 million to help states deploy the nationally standardized driver's licenses mandated by the Real ID Act of 2005.

The Senate passed a Secure Border Initiative Network spending bill that added $3 billion to pay for 105 ground-based radar and camera towers, four unmanned aerial vehicles, 23,000 border guards, 300 miles of vehicle barriers and 700 miles of border fencing.

ATF seeks wireless iPass proposals

The Justice Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will field a nationwide wireless broadband telecommunications and Web portal.
ATF wants the system to support thousands of agency employees. The agency said it wants to award a contract by November for a wireless system based on technology from iPass.

A request for proposals is expected this week.

FEMA ups first-responder ID effort

National standards for first-responder credentials won't be ready soon, a Federal Emergency Management Agency official told Congress.

FEMA is establishing a working group to develop and integrate credentialing requirements and programs such as the First Responder Authentication Card and Common Credential projects, said Marko Bourne, director of policy and planning for analysis and evaluation at FEMA.

Until a national ID card can be implemented, private-sector contractors should coordinate with their local jurisdictions, a Verizon Communications Inc. official said.

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