The news in brief
The mystery is in the numbers
Graphic by Sam Votsis
The story of the Da Vinci Code starts with a mysterious series of numbers: 13, 3, 2, 21, 1, 1, 8 and 5
. The same numbers apply to the often perplexing and mysterious workings of government contracting.13
Copies to make of your proposal3
Additional backup systems you'll be asked to develop2
Requests to rush over extra copies of your proposal21
Times to explain that no, that was not your company mentioned in the Inspector General's report1
Questions you're allowed to ask at Industry Day1
Times you feel glad you didn't have those lunches with Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham8
Minutes on hold with the procurement office5
Number of calls asking, "Have you sent over those copies of the proposal yet?"
Dems allege contracting abuse
The Bush administration is on a federal procurement binge, fueled by increasing mismanagement and corruption in such contracts, Democrats on the House Committee on Government Reform allege in a new report.
The report cites 118 contracts, collectively worth $746 billion, for significant overcharges, wasteful spending and management, including $10 billion to Accenture Ltd. and partners for the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology; $292 million to Aegis Defence Services Ltd., for Iraq reconstruction services; and $40 million to Akima Site Operations LLC for portable classrooms for post-Katrina Mississippi classrooms.
House funds border watch
Part of the $1.9 billion in new border-security funding recently approved by Congress will pay for IT systems for surveillance and intelligence analysis to be used by the National Guard at U.S. borders.
About $708 million of the funding is for National Guard support, including operating surveillance and intelligence systems, training and construction of fences, vehicle barriers and roads, according to the conference report for spending bill. H.R. 4939.
HSPD-12 causes struggle
The area most in need of beefing up to meet requirements of Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 is physical-access control, said two recent surveys of systems integrators and federal IT security managers.
In a CA Inc. survey of federal IT security executives, 56 percent said they had seven or more physical-access control systems, and 58 percent said their agencies had yet to decide whether to standardize these systems.
In a survey of 44 systems integrators by RSA Security Inc., 59 percent said lack of interoperability in physical and logical access is the most significant challenge.
Better links for intel units
The Transportation Security Administration's intelligence office needs to improve its IT links with other intelligence units in the Homeland Security Department, a senior TSA official said at a recent congressional hearing.
Connectivity needs to expand between TSA and other agencies, including Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Coast Guard, said William Gaches, TSA's assistant administrator for intelligence.
Welcome to Federal City
Apogen Technologies Inc. will help transform the Naval Support Activity site in New Orleans, once slated for closure, into a high-tech campus for homeland security agencies.
The $46,000 consulting contract will focus on turning the site into Federal City, as the project is called. It is part of a Louisiana initiative to build state-of-the-art headquarters buildings on the Naval Support Activity base for military and other federal tenants that have homeland security responsibilities.
The New Orleans facility was saved from closure in the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process when the BRAC Commission agreed with Louisiana's Federal City plan.
Google unveils fed search engine
Google Inc. has launched a search site devoted to finding government material on the Web.
Although Google U.S. Government Search offers a service almost identical to that of the General Services Administration's FirstGov, Google's site will have more personalization features, said Kevin Gough, product manager for the new offering.
Gough said Google's site is designed for government employees as well as citizens interested in government material.
Agencies ask for help
Federal agencies responsible for the health and well being of U.S. citizens are seeking creative IT solutions to replace outdated systems.
Some ways the vendor community can help, said a recent panel of federal agency speakers at the 26th Annual Management of Change Conference:
» Provide strategies and tools that quickly process broad volumes of information in real time
» Apply some of the IT systems they have installed in multiple federal agencies to advise other agencies that would be able to use the same systems
» Help agencies define requirements and find interoperable, standardized solutions to problem areas.
Aid for women-owned biz urged
The Small Business Administration is proposing to implement a new regulation aimed at providing more contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses.
The proposed Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Assistance Program, which SBA's Office of Government Contracting would administer, would let federal contracting officers restrict competition to eligible women-owned small businesses to help in meeting federal small-business contracting goals.
SBA will accept comments on the proposed rule through July 17.
IT oversight issues jam FBI
The jury is still out on whether FBI is managing effectively its IT procurements, including the $305 million Sentinel program to upgrade case file systems, said a recent Government Accountability Office letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"Unless FBI strengthens its controls over contractor payments and purchased equipment, future projects, including the new Sentinel project, will be highly vulnerable to the same types of issues that plagued the Trilogy project," wrote Linda Calbom, GAO's director of financial management.
Fast track to liability shield
The final rule for the Homeland Security Department's Safety Act implementation sets up a speedier process for federal contractors to win liability protections made possible under the act.
Approved products and services would face little or no liability if they fail in connection with a terrorist attack. But the expedited treatment probably won't be available to bidders on two upcoming procurements: the Secure Border Initiative and Integrated Wireless Network, according to two Safety Act experts.
Safavian found guilty
A federal jury this month convicted former Office of Federal Procurement Policy administrator David Safavian on four counts of obstructing justice and lying under oath during his time spent as chief of staff at the General Services Administration.
Safavian, who resigned from OFPP just days before his September 2005 arrest, is the first government official found guilty of crimes associated with disgraced lobbyist Jack
Safavian can file for a new trial by July 10. An Oct. 12 hearing is scheduled to determine Safavian's sentence. According to
the Washington Post, Safavian faces up to 20 years in prison.
Cosgrave picked for NYC post
Former IRS CIO Paul Cosgrave has been named commissioner of the New York City information technology and telecommunications department. He replaces Gino
Cosgrave was executive vice president for Crown Consulting Inc., a transportation solutions company. He led an enterprise architecture team charged with designing the overall structure of the Next Generation Air Transportation System at the Federal Aviation Administration.
Cosgrave served from 1998 to 2001 as IRS CIO, where he led a major restructuring and centralization of IT systems.
Nominee assures vigilance
Paul Denett, Office of Federal Procurement Policy administrator nominee, promised to be vigilant in assuring that the government gets the best prices on services it procures.
At his nomination hearing this month in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Denett also said he would support developing a database that contains information on all government's contracts as an effort to improve transparency, competition and performance.
During the hearing, committee chairwoman Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said OFPP has become "too passive" in both setting measurable performance standards and establishing sound contingency contracting policies during emergencies.
In particular, Collins and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) cited billions of dollars in government waste in contracts signed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and in the Iraq reconstruction.
Defense review begins
Senior Defense Department and service officials are shifting gears on the Quadrennial Defense Review to begin executing the guidance. They are examining how systems are governed, managed and implemented under four categories that make up the Joint Capabilities Portfolio: joint command and control, joint network-centric operations, joint logistics and battlespace awareness.
Joint networked operations are crucial in the war on terror, and any requirements "not based in a joint context will probably run into heavy weather," said Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He spoke this month at the TechNet International 2006 conference.
CALEA rule may skewer VoIP
Efforts to apply federal wiretap laws to Internet traffic could have unintended consequences for IT security, according to an study from the Information Technology Association of America.
The ITAA study was in response to a Federal Communications Commission ruling that the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) should apply to broadband Internet and voice over IP service providers. CALEA mandates that equipment in public switched telephone networks accommodate wiretaps for law enforcement agencies.
"The net result would be the introduction of substantial vulnerabilities into the network," said Internet pioneer Vinton
New emergency standard
A new, open IT standard for facilitating emergency data sharing across local, regional, national and international governments and organizations was ratified by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards.
The Emergency Data Exchange Language Distribution Element (EDXL-DE) version 1.0 was designated a standard by Oasis, which serves as the de facto international standards body.
Chip Hines, acting director for the Homeland Security Department's Office for Interoperability and Compatibility, hailed the new standard's ability to help transmit a wide variety of data, from files to technical data exchange information.
Texas strings border with cameras
Texas will spend $5 million to put, all along its borders with Mexico, hundreds of video cameras, including night-vision cameras, that will broadcast surveillance footage on the Internet to help prevent crime and illegal border crossings.
The footage will operate around the clock. Citizens witnessing a crime or illegal activity will be invited to call an 800 number to report to the appropriate law enforcement agency. The surveillance images also will be fed directly to state, local and federal police agencies.
DHS: Tighten U.S.-Canada border
The United States wants to implement biometric border-crossing identification cards by 2008 to protect the nation against possible attacks by terrorists in Canada, a Homeland Security Department senior policy official recently testified to Congress.
The initiative, sponsored by the departments of Homeland Security and State, would require passports or other new secure documents for Canadians, Mexicans and U.S. citizens who cross the borders. It is the first time such a rule would be applied to Canadians seeking to enter this country.