Newsbriefs

Contractors may need smart IDs

A proposed State Department
change to acquisition rules
includes new federal regulations
for issuing identification cards
to contractors.

The proposed rule would
require contractors to use
interoperable, smart identification
cards to gain access to federal
buildings as required by
Homeland Security
Presidential Directive-12.
Contractors requiring access to
the agency's information systems
also would need cards.

Ethics project launched

A nonpartisan ethics
group has launched a project
to rank the ethics and compliance
programs of government
contractors.

The Ethisphere Institute will
solicit information from contractors
through Jan. 15. The
institute will distribute a questionnaire
to collect information
and intends to use the
data to create a ranking of
1,000 contractors.

The Practicing Law Institute,
LexisNexis and Corpedia, along
with several corporations, created
the institute two years
ago. The institute takes a nonconfrontational
approach, cofounder
Alex Brigham said.

The goal is to recognize firms
that are doing a good job with
their ethics and compliance
programs and encourage other
companies to improve their
performance, Brigham said.

SAIC taps new CTO

Science Applications
International Corp. has promoted
Amy Alving to chief
technology officer. Alving, formerly
the company's senior
vice president, will direct the
Office of Technology. She will
work with SAIC organizations
in all areas related to science
and technology, helping to not
only guide technology investments
but also develop and
recruit technical talent.
Alving joined SAIC in 2005.

Fusion centers face snags

Many state and local officials
who work at fusion centers report
problems logging on to federal
networks and have difficulty handling
the high volume of information
they get from federal authorities,
according to a Government
Accountability Office report
issued Nov. 29.

Of the 58 fusion centers surveyed,
officials at 31 said they
had trouble accessing federal systems,
12 reported challenges
meeting security requirements, 18
said they had trouble handling
the high volume of information
coming in, and 11 said the
redundancy of data from
multiple sources was
challenging.

Small firms fall from SBA list

Twenty-seven companies
that were on
the Small Business
Administration's list of
the Top 100 small businesses
in 2006 are
nowhere to be seen on
SBA's 2007 list.

The change reflects SBA's new
size standard policies and a 14-
month effort to scrub improperly
listed businesses from the smallbusiness
database. Only one firm
on the list had been incorrectly
classified, 16 had outgrown their
small-business status, and 10 had
been acquired by larger companies,
SBA said.

Visualization tools are core technology

The Visualization Tools for
Situational Awareness and
Emergency Response program is
helping the Coast Guard develop
situational awareness, but more
help is needed to track small boats
and noncooperative vessels, officials
said.

The Homeland Security
Department's Science and
Technology Directorate is funding
Viz Tools as a proof-of-concept
demonstration to correlate sensors
and automated vessel-tracking
information with advanced
notification-of-arrival information
and other port activity.

Canadian license plan stalls

The planned Canadian hybrid
driver's licenses that would substitute
for passports won't pass
muster ? or get their holders
across the U.S.-Canada border
? a Homeland Security
Department official said.

DHS nixed British
Columbia's request to use the
new IDs as is. But if the combination
license/border-crossing
identification cards were
upgraded to meet the requirements
of the Western
Hemisphere Travel Initiative,
the enhanced licenses could be
used in lieu of a passport at the
border, a DHS spokeswoman
said.

OMB eyes Real ID revisions

After evaluating 21,000
comments, Homeland Security
Department officials have submitted
revised federal standards
for state driver's licenses
and identification cards to satisfy
the Real ID Act of 2005.

The Office of Management
and Budget has until February
to review the rules, but it likely
won't take that long because
DHS has kept the agency in
the loop as the changes
evolved, a DHS official said.

USCG to seek NAIS ideas

The Homeland Security
Department this month will
request proposals for help
implementing the core of the
Coast Guard's Nationwide
Automatic Identification
System communication system.
This stage of the maritime
digital broadcast system implementation
will create a functioning
core operating system
covering three designated areas
for initial operating capability,
systems engineering, logistics,
physical and logical hardware
and software for shore stations.

DOD limits buying competition

The Defense Department
awarded many task orders
without competition and failed
to justify going outside the
department for acquisition
services, a DOD inspector general's
report said.

An audit of 98 National
Institutes of Health's Electronic
Commodities Store III task
orders worth $33.2 million
showed 95 failed to give all
contractors a chance to bid,
and on 31 contracting officers
offered no reasons for the
awards, the report stated.

DHS: All fingers on deck

In last month's soft launch
of a Homeland Security
Department program, foreign
visitors passing through some
lanes at Dulles International
Airport in Virginia had all of
their fingerprints scanned.

The full launch, set for Dec.
5, will cover all foreign visitors.
Also, all foreigners visiting the
United States on visas must
have a digital photograph
taken and a scan of their two
index fingers under the U.S.
Visitor and Immigrant Status
Indicator Technology program.

The 10-finger U.S. VISIT
scans are to be fully operational
at U.S. airports and all
land and sea border crossings
by the end of 2008.

Screening system criticized

The Homeland Security
Department has deployed
robust information technology
security controls in its
Automated Targeting System
to protect air travelers' personal
information, but key vulnerabilities
remain, said a DHS
inspector general's report.

Privacy advocates have criticized
the system since it first
drew widespread attention
when described in a Privacy
Act notice a year ago, but it has
been operating for more than a
decade in various forms.

Boeing picks SBInet protégés

Boeing Co. and its teammates
on the $8 billion SBInet
contract have established formal
mentoring relationships
with 11 small businesses. Seven
are directly with Boeing and
four are through Boeing's
teammates. Boeing's protégés
are:
  • Chesapeake Innovation
    Center, a small-business
    incubator in Annapolis, Md.
  • EmbeddedPlus Engineering
    LLC of Tempe, Ariz.
  • Flight Test Associates LLC
    integrator of Tucson, Ariz.
  • General Sheet Metal Corp.,
    of Thomasville, Ala.
  • Harris Environmental Group
    Inc. of Tucson, Ariz.
  • Hazmed Inc. of Lanham,
    Md.
  • LTI DataComm Inc. of
    Sterling, Va.

SCI Consulting Services Inc.,
of Vienna, Va., and SE
Solutions Inc., of Reston, Va.,
participate through Unisys
Corp.; Technica LLC, of North
Charleston, S.C., participates
through DRS Technologies
Corp.; and Synchronized
Network Solutions LLC, of
Penrose, Colo., participates
through LGS Wireless Inc.

Small-biz ally urges bigger awards

The Homeland Security
Department needs to do more
to award contracts to small
and midsize technology and
information technology firms,
the House
Homeland
Security
Committee's
chairman said
in November.

Small businesses
are more
flexible than large contractors
and can react more quickly to
change, said Rep. Bennie
Thompson (D-Miss.).

It is important to make big
companies form strategic
alliances with small and midsize
companies so the companies
can be heard before DHS
awards large contracts, he
said.

E-Verify fails test

The E-Verify program uses a
database that doesn't meet
accuracy standards set by
Congress, said a U.S. Citizenship
and Immigration Services
report.

USCIS and the Social
Security Administration run
E-Verify, which lets employers
verify Social Security numbers
for new workers. The USCIS
database has improved in
recent years, but doesn't meet
Congress' accuracy requirements,
isn't up-to-date enough
to meet Illegal Immigration
Reform and Immigrant
Responsibility Act of 1996
rules and remains vulnerable
to errors caused by incorrect
information submitted
by employers, the report
states.

Senate mulls IG reform, telework, e-gov

The Senate Homeland
Security and Governmental
Affairs Committee has
approved its version of the
Inspector General Reform Act
along with three other bills
affecting agency policies on egovernment,
telework and real
property disposal.

The committee also
approved the E-Government
Reauthorization Act, the
Telework Enhancement Act
and a bill to create a test program
for agencies to dispose of
surplus real property.
The IG bill received the most
discussion, but none garnered
any real opposition.

TSA programs aren't well-integrated

Several Transportation
Security Administration information
technology programs
have not been integrated into
an effective infrastructure, and
the agency's chief information
officer lacks authority and staff
to integrate
the systems,
share data
and reduce
manual work
processes, according to
a Homeland Security
Department inspector general
report.

As part of its response to
the terrorist attacks of 2001,
TSA rushed to set up security
screening programs at 450
airports.

The $6.3 billion agency,
which became part of DHS in
2003, has continued to develop
numerous IT initiatives in a
decentralized fashion and
struggles to coordinate its IT
systems, the report states.

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