News briefs

TSA to use maritime spec for worker ID

The Transportation Security Administration said it has a maritime industry specification for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential biometric reader and the contactless smart card.

TSA and the Coast Guard took a National Maritime Security Advisory Committee recommendation to require encryption and use the TWIC privacy key, an advisory committee scheme to use encryption to protect data on the cards, as the working specification for readers.

Senate strafes high-risk IT projects

One in five government information technology projects needs to be rebaselined and one in six doesn't have a qualified project manager, according to research by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee's Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security Subcommittee.

Some senators, frustrated by the statistics, questioned how much of the $65 billion that agencies spend on IT is being wasted.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), ranking member of the subcommittee, demanded that the Office of Management and Budget "address the root causes of these problem projects."

DHS deputy secretary steps down

Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson announced his resignation last week. Jackson, who has been second in command to Secretary Michael Chertoff since March 2005, will stay at his post until Oct. 26.

As deputy secretary and chief operating officer of the Transportation Department from May 2001 to August 2003, Jackson helped create the new Transportation Security Administration as part of DHS.

Giuliani calls tech a multipurpose tool

Stumping in tech-savvy Northern Virginia, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani made technology issues the core of his speech to the Northern Virginia Technology Council.

He said he envisioned an information-based government workforce that was smaller in number but more effective and efficient.

His speech was interrupted by applause when he advocated making the Internet tax moratorium permanent. Such a tax is an example of a lid on growth, he said.

PASS card deadline called impractical

The Homeland Security Department is running out of time to test and deploy by summer 2008 a new technology in a proposed passport-alternative identification card, an industry expert said.

The proposed People Access Security Services cards are meant as a low-cost alternative to passports to meet requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

The initiative is set to go into effect next summer and requires all travelers in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean to carry passports, PASS cards or other approved documents.

SBInet glitches delay launch, payment

Boeing Co. won't get paid for the SBInet's first 28-mile segment of the border surveillance system until the Homeland Security Department determines that the system is working properly, DHS said.

Integration glitches prevented the $20 million section from going live mid-June, a Customs and Border Patrol spokesman told Washington Technology. Boeing has met and been paid for previous Project 28 milestones.

GAO: DHS tech workforce plan flawed

The Homeland Security Department is making limited progress in hiring key information technology staff, which is hurting the agency's ability to manage major programs, a new Government Accountability Office report states.

Lack of sufficient numbers of DHS IT employees adversely affects the department's ability to monitor IT contractor activity, GAO said. Instead, the agency said, significant portions of major IT programs, including SBInet and the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, are outsourced to federal contractors.

Accenture sued over lost data

Connecticut is suing Accenture Ltd. over the loss of confidential taxpayer data and hundreds of state bank account and purchasing card numbers, the state's attorney general said.

The suit stems from the theft in June of a backup device with data for a similar project in Ohio.

The lawsuit alleges that Accenture converted state property to its own use without state permission and acted negligently by allowing sensitive data from Connecticut to be placed on a computer tape for an Ohio project.

HUBZone patch needs weeding

The Small Business Administration's program to develop businesses in Historically Underutilized Business Zones is riddled with holes that leave it open to fraud, Rep. Nydia Velazquez, (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, said recently.

The HUBZone program has 14,200 businesses. Although SBA annually approves 2,000 firms, it examines only 500, she said. Her committee found multimillion-dollar homes in areas SBA dubbed HUBZones, she said.

DHS to start worker ID enrollment

The Homeland Security Department wants to start early this month enrolling employees for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, a top homeland security official said.

The date hasn't been set, Paul Schneider, DHS undersecretary for management, recently told the House Homeland Security Committee. But the place has: Initial enrollments will be at the port of Wilmington, Del.

SIA to streamline DOD intell

The Defense Intelligence Agency issued its much-discussed, billion-dollar solicitation to consolidate 30 intelligence analysis contracts into one: Solutions for Intelligence Analysis.

The five-year contract will provide the Defense Department's intelligence community with contractor support in 29 areas, including computer network operations, emerging and disruptive technologies, military research and development, weapons of mass destruction, and supporting infrastructure.

GSA greenlights Verizon systems

Verizon Business cleared the final hurdle to start selling through the Networx Universal contract.

The company completed testing and verification of its operations support systems, and the General Services Administration approved them.

The systems are the back-end technology for ordering notification, inventory, invoicing and similar functions. Under the Networx program, all contract holders must have GSA-approved systems before taking orders.

DHS guru launches consultancy

Greg Rothwell, former Homeland Security Department acquisition guru, opened a consulting firm to help companies trying to crack into the government market.
The new firm, EverMay Consulting Group, is named after his two daughters, both May babies.

Since leaving DHS 18 months ago, Rothwell has been with Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.

Clock ticks slower on Real ID compliance

States will have four more months to request more time to implement the Real ID Act national identity management program, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff recently told a Senate committee.

DHS extended the original Oct. 1, 2007, deadline to February 2008, Chertoff told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Feds unveil emergency response framework

Federal government response to a major cyberattack or outage could be split in two, depending on whether the incident affects primarily physical or virtual assets, said the recently released draft of the Homeland Security Department's National Response Framework.

The document outlines federal, state and local roles in emergency response, as well as more than 20 annexes covering such topics as firefighting, search and rescue, public works, public health, logistical systems and cyber incidents.

Governors campaign for Real ID funds

Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons want the federal government to issue the long-awaited regulations for the Real ID Act of 2005 and to pump more money into the program.

Writing last month to the Office of Management and Budget, the two governors asked federal officials to "provide the significant investment necessary to meet the requirements of the federal mandate."

Federal law requires state governments to issue standardized driver's licenses and identification cards.

GAO calls DHS tech workforce plan deficient

The Homeland Security Department is making limited progress in hiring key IT staff, which is hurting the agency's ability to manage major programs, said a new Government Accountability Office report.

Lack of sufficient numbers of DHS IT employees adversely affects the department's ability to monitor IT contractor activity, GAO said. Instead, the agency said, significant portions of major IT programs, including the Secure Border Initiative Network and U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, are outsourced to federal contractors.

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