Datastream | The news in brief

John Toups was recognized at the Fourth annual Government Contractor of the Year awards Oct. 11.

New space policy touts imagery

The White House published an ambitious, new national space policy Oct. 6 that lays out goals for exploration and addresses the government's need to enhance homeland security by collecting intelligence imagery within the United States using high-resolution government satellites.

The policy supports human and robotic exploration of space and a robust science and technology base for national security. It charges the national intelligence director with responsibilities to implement intelligence goals for the collection, processing, analysis and dissemination of national intelligence related to space.

Industry recognizes achievements

John Toups, former CEO of PRC Inc., led a slate of industry and government honorees recognized Oct. 11 at the fourth annual Greater Washington Government Contractor of the Year awards.

The Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce's Government Contractor Alliance, the Professional Services Council and Washington Technology present the GovCon awards each year.

Toups received a Hall of Fame award for achievements in his career. Two government officials, Jeffrey Brunner of the U.S. Joint Forces Command and Jim Williams of the General Services Administration, were recognized as public sector partners of the year.

Companies were honored in four revenue categories. They are:

» Oberon Associates Inc. of Manassas, Va., in the under $25 million category.

» JBS International Inc. of Silver Spring, Md., in the $25 million to $75 million category.

» Argon ST of Fairfax, Va., in the $75 million to $300 million category.

» Development Alternatives Inc. of Bethesda, Md., in the more than $300 million category.

Two executives were honored:

» Linda Berdine, president of G&B Solutions Inc. in the under $75 million in revenue category.

» James O'Neill in the more than $75 million category.

Complete coverage of the awards including profiles of the winners will be in the Oct. 30 issue of Washington Technology.

WARN Act gets chop job

Congress included a drastically shortened version of the Warning, Alert and Response Network Act emergency public warning legislation in the port security bill approved Sept. 30, said an emergency warning expert.

The new language relates primarily to cell phone use for emergency warnings, and does not contain provisions from the original Act, including those that would have set up a National Alert Office in the Homeland Security Department, and set a standards-based, multimodal, national alert system.

'War' for IT security

The CIO's office in the Office of the National Director for Intelligence this month started going into the war room. Groups of government, industry and academic IT security experts have been developing proposals since May on ways to improve intelligence agencies' cybersecurity.

Over the next month, CIO Dale Meyerrose will evaluate the proposals, and by year's end he will issue guidance for certification and accreditation, software reuse, and security policy and standards.

Point, counterpoint

Government should become more proactive in its IT security, said Arthur Coviello, president of RSA, now the security division of EMC Corp. at the recent IT Security Training Conference in Washington.

But an audience member with 30 years experience in government service countered the criticism, saying federal IT departments are forced to take the defensive because funding often is available only to address a problem that already has happened.

A lack of metrics for determining the value of a security investment in government lies at the root of the problem, Coviello said.

Emergency synchronicity

Computer systems that tracked 66,200 National Guard and civilian responders deployed after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita need to be improved and better integrated, according to the 2005 Hurricane Season Response After-Action Report from the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.

The compact was activated 10 times in 2005, primarily for Katrina and Rita, and distributed $840 million of aid, deployed 46,500 National Guard personnel and nearly 20,000 civilian responders.

Much of the assistance was distributed successfully. However, the report noted shortcomings in the compact's computer systems, especially in coordinating its central database, broadcast system and electronic aid request forms.

AeA starts procurement group

Trade association AeA has launched a new unit targeting the government procurement market.

Called the Government and Commercial Marketing Group, the organization will focus on technology acquisition, trends, policies and best practices. Gregory Poersch will lead the group.

TriCare on the move

TriCare Theater Medical Information Programs is looking for a vendor to help it move.

TMIP is transitioning its data and workstations from the Deployment Health Support Directorate in Falls Church, Va., to the Defense Information Systems Agency in San Antonio.

TMIP is asking vendors for installation, configuration and system support services for the transition.

GAO: Beef up IT controls

Information security controls at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services showed cracks in effectiveness, according to a review by the Government Accountability Office.

GAO found 47 weaknesses in CMS' communication networks, including electronic access and other system controls.

CMS uses a contractor-owned and operated network to relay communication and data transmission throughout the agency and related entities.

Voting systems 'how-to' issued

The Election Assistance Commission has released a draft of its Testing and Certification Program Manual for voting systems and is seeking public comment throughout the month.

The 67-page document spells out procedures for certifying systems under its voluntary standards for electronic voting systems.

"Although participation in the program is voluntary, adherence to the program's procedural requirements is mandatory for participants," the commission said.

DHS progresses on security

The Homeland Security Department has made progress in security IT systems agencywide, said a recent Inspector General's Office report.

DHS officials expressed confidence that the agency, for the first time, would get a passing grade in next year's federal IT security report card.

But even as the IG report mentioned significant improvements in IT security, it cited areas where DHS has much work to do, including completing certification and systems accreditation.

DOD '07 budget stamped

House and Senate conferees have authorized the Defense Department to spend $532.8 billion on its programs in fiscal 2007. Lawmakers reached agreement earlier this month on the National Defense Authorization Act for 2007.

The report includes $84.2 billion in procurement funding; $73.6 billion for research, development, testing and evaluation; $110.1 billion for military personnel; and $115.3 billion for operations and maintenance.

Ports to get $3.4B

Congress passed a $3.4 billion security bill that will send more funding and technology to the nation's ports.

The legislation, H.R. 4954, authorizes $400 million a year through 2011 for direct grants to ports. The money can be spent on equipment and training, including communications gear that is interoperable with federal, state and local agencies; software to enhance terrorism preparedness; IT programs and software for information-sharing and for handling classified information; and surveillance and security equipment to protect critical port infrastructure.

SGI moves beyond bankruptcy

After filing for bankruptcy protection in May, Silicon Graphics Inc. now has a reorganization plan and financing in place, according to company officials.

SGI's commitments for exit financing consist of an $85 million term loan from Morgan Stanley Senior Funding Inc., and a $30 million line of credit from General Electric Capital Corp. The funds will be used to pay off debt obtained during Chapter 11, make distributions under the reorganization plan and provide working capital for the company's operations.

Alliant RFP is out

The General Services Administration has issued requests for proposals for its 10-year, $65 billion Alliant procurement program designed to let federal agencies buy a wide range of IT services.

Industry has until Nov. 17 to submit proposals for the $50 billion Alliant full and open governmentwide acquisition vehicle and the $15 billion Alliant small-business set-aside contract.

GSA plans to issue awards to 25 to 30 companies in 2007 for the Alliant full and open contract, and 40 to 60 awards for the Alliant small-business contract.

Deadline? What deadline?

Spurred by high-profile losses of computers containing sensitive data, the Office of Management and Budget this summer reminded agencies that they had to have in place by Aug. 7 policies and tools to ensure the safe handling of data ? a deadline that few of the officials attending the recent Microsoft Security Summit East in Washington said they have met.

Conference attendees were briefed on the capabilities and limitations of some of Microsoft's data protection tools, and those to come in its Vista operating system, such as Bitlocker, a drive encryption tool that will feature a more comprehensive layer of strong encryption for PCs.

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