News briefs

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said Sun Microsystems isn't giving the government its lowest pricing.

Newscom

Shay Assad, director of procurement policy in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, says the Defense Department is cooling on the idea of lead systems integrators.

Zaid Hamid

LandWarNet urges tech focus

Army Secretary Peter Geren urged Army information technology managers and industry executives to remain focused on technology efforts that deliver the right information to the right people in real time.

One way industry can accelerate that effort, Geren said at a recent LandWarNet conference, is to help the Army build cheaper secure radios with Global Positioning System access.

Getting the right information to combat troops without overwhelming them must remain the foremost goal, he said. "We must make sure we don't replace the fog of war with the fog of information overload."

Air Force seeks clearance help

The Defense Department, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Office of Management and Budget are seeking ways to meet Congress' December 2009 deadline for improving the security clearance process.

In a request for information, the Air Force, acting as the group's procurement arm, is asking vendors to submit strategies for completing 90 percent of security clearance investigations in 40 days and adjudications in 20 days.

The Air Force said the new system should be in place by Dec. 31, 2008.

Two states adopt hybrid ID

Arizona and Vermont have joined Washington state in a Homeland Security Department program for issuing hybrid identification cards that combine a driver's license with a U.S. border-crossing card.

Vermont is the second border state to launch an effort to produce an enhanced driver's license that potentially will be used for crossing U.S. borders under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

DHS and Arizona officials said they would partner to develop an enhanced driver's license to meet initiative requirements and align with future driver's license requirements of the Real ID Act.

Grassley to GSA: Nix Sun deal

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has asked the General Services Administration to cancel a controversial multiple-award contract with Sun Microsystems Inc.

Grassley charges that Sun isn't giving government customers its lowest pricing as required by its GSA schedule contract, and he cites GSA's inspector general, who says Sun has overcharged the government by more than $25 million.

Sun Chief Executive Officer Scott McNealy is refusing to open books to GSA for inspection because, he said, he believes agency auditors "have a significant and well-documented conflict of interest and a demonstrated predisposition" against the company.

McNealy has asked that a third-party conduct the audit. Grassley disagrees.

GSA shoots down sole-source award

The General Services Administration has decided that Eagle Eye Publishers is not the sole company able to help develop a database to meet the first phase of the Federal Financial Accountability and Transparency Act.

GSA had planned on awarding a sole-source contract to Eagle Eye to deliver data and software that would list all grant and contract award information from fiscal 2000 to 2007.

"GSA had between one and four other vendors that said they had the data," said a federal official who has knowledge of the procurement and requested anonymity.

GSA begins Phase 2 of MAS Express

A test of the General Services Administration's program to speed the award process for schedule contracts is moving into its second phase.

In Phase 2, GSA's Multiple Award Schedule Express program expands the number of products offered from five to 15, the agency said.

MAS Express is designed to cut the time it takes to award a basic schedule contract from months to 30 days.

FCC accepts implementation advice

The Federal Communications Commission's newly authorized national wireless broadband network for first responders will follow an implementation schedule recommended by public-safety groups.

FCC will grant a single national license for a public-safety broadband network, which will be created in January 2008 through a public auction of radio spectrum.
The auction winner will have to negotiate with the public-safety license holder to allow dual use of the spectrum. The 700 MHz band segment will be used commercially, but public safety will pre-empt it in emergencies.

Networx firms chase OneNet spots

The Homeland Security Department issued the first large-scale task order under the
$48 billion Networx Universal government- wide acquisition contract.

Through the General Services Administration's telecom vehicle, DHS wants two of
the three Networx vendors ? Verizon Business Services, Qwest Government Services and AT&T ? to establish its OneNet intranet for sensitive but unclassified information.

DHS said it will designate one vendor as a primary service provider and one as a secondary provider.

Interoperability grant guides altered

Just six days before deadline, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration published revised guidance for states and local agencies to apply for a share of a national $1 billion public-safety interoperability fund.

Under the NTIA guidance, $968 million will be distributed to the states, which must match 20 percent of their awards. Each state must submit an interoperability strategy and justifications for specific projects.

IBM, PriceWaterhouse to pay

Although they deny the charges, IBM Corp. will pay $2.9 million, and PriceWaterhouse- Coopers will pay $2.3 million, to settle allegations that the companies made improper payments to companies with which they have global alliances in connection with federal IT contracts, the Justice Department said.
Justice's actions are part of a larger investigation that resulted in complaints filed in April in Arkansas against Accenture Ltd., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. IBM and PWC cooperated in the investigation.

Data-mining program near rock bottom

A key data-mining program at the Homeland Security Department may be canceled if it doesn't win more departmental support, a new DHS inspector general report said.
DHS agency adoption of the Science and Technology Directorate's Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight and Semantic Enhancement program has been slow ? a result of missteps in development and cancellation of three pilots because of privacy concerns, the IG said.

DOD shies from lead integrators

A senior Defense Department procurement official said the Pentagon has little appetite for new contracts involving a lead systems integrator approach, but he stopped short of saying department officials will never use the concept again.
In the future, DOD officials will use the construct sparingly, if at all, Shay Assad, director of procurement policy at the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, said Aug. 28.

"We can effectively accomplish the work that we need to get accomplished with the mechanisms we already have," Assad said.

Vista goes west to San Antonio

Vista Technology Services Inc. is opening an office in Texas to extend its reach to military bases in the West. The Herndon, Va., company specializes in decision support analytics technology.

Vista created the new position, as yet unfilled, of management director to run the new San Antonio office under the guidance of Larry Lincoln, the company's chief operating officer.

NASA IT modernization plan lags

NASA must show connections among its myriad management systems before it can integrate them, a Government Account- ability Office report said.

NASA's lack of plans to modernize its management systems and integrate them under the Integrated Enterprise Management Program has disrupted requirements development and project scheduling, GAO said.

IEMP is an integrated business environment that will consolidate automated business systems, use single data sources and reporting systems, and provide oversight.

BlueStreak opens D.C. office

Collaboration software developer BlueStreak Connect LLC has opened an office in Herndon, Va., staking its claim in the federal marketplace.

The Littleton, Colo., company offers its ConnectSuite software ? which lets law enforcement and other emergency response agencies collect, access, manage and share information ? as a service, rather than a product that customers must deploy internally.

Forest Service to unify call centers

The Forest Service seeks to develop a single call center to resolve information technology, radio and phone problems for its geographically dispersed offices.
The agency has a help-desk center but wants an enterprise customer service center that can answer questions and fix problems on the first call.

The request for proposals for the five-year blanket purchasing agreement will be released Sept. 10.

Proposals will be due Oct. 12, with award set for December.

SF preps for Registered Traveler

San Francisco International Airport this month will become the country's 10th airport to participate in the Transportation Security Administration's Registered Traveler Program.

Program members pay a fee, provide biometric information, undergo a TSA screening and receive an identification card. At participating airports, enrolled members use special security lanes promising speedier processing times.

Agencies miss small-biz goals

About half of departments and agencies failed to meet their small-business goals in fiscal 2006, the Small Business Administration said.

And a revision of 2005 data cut by $4.6 billion the value of contracts that went to small businesses.

In its first score cards, SBA issued 12 red ? failing ? scores, five yellows and seven greens.

Counties back GIS certification

The National Association of Counties endorsed the GIS Certification Institute's certification program for geographic-information systems specialists.

The institute issues a GIS Professional certification to people who meet minimum standards for education, professional experience and contribution to the profession.

The certification will "separate professionals ? or GISPs ? from casual users
of the technology," an institute spokesman said.

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