A year's worth of issues


Cybersecurity strategy


The White House Sept. 18 released a draft
with a 60-day comment period. The plan sets out security recommendations for home computer
users, businesses, industries and government agencies. The plan pushes the philosophy that
the federal government cannot act alone in protecting against cyberattacks.


Homeland security

<>
SIZE="2">The Homeland Security Department. The White House and the Senate continue
to battle over the bill to create the department. Most of the contention centers on
whether the department should be exempt from civil service regulations.

<>
SIZE="2">The creation of the department will be the largest restructuring of the
government since the creation of the Department of Defense after World War II. Agencies
such as the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Customs Service, Coast Guard,
Transportation Security Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency are
destined for the new department.

Spending on information
technology by these agencies tops $2 billion annually. But the Office of Management and
Budget froze new spending by these agencies, pending review by OMB and agency chief
information officers. OMB wants to avoid unnecessary redundancies.


TSA's
$1 billion IT infrastructure contract underwent such a review before it was awarded to
Unisys Corp.


The strategy. The first draft was released
July 16, and is expected to evolve. The plan sets out the White House goals of
strengthening information sharing among all levels of government, improving first
responder capabilities and creating integrated communication systems.


<>
SIZE="2">Implementing the plan relies on more agencies than those pulled together in the
Homeland Security Department. State and local governments and the private sector also have
roles to play.

Budget requests for fiscal 2004, expected in
February 2003, will provide more clues about the administration's homeland security
priorities.


E-government

<>
SIZE="2">OMB officials, such as Mark Forman, associate director for information technology
and e-government, are pushing the House to join the Senate in fully funding the White
House request for $100 million over the next two years for cross-agency initiatives. The
House has approved $5 million. The Senate version of the Electronic Government Act of 2002
is S. 803. The House version is H.R. 2458.

Another conflict
between the White House and Congress is that many on Capitol Hill want the person in
Forman's position to be confirmed by the Senate. The administration opposes the move.


The e-gov strategy also is part of OMB's development of a federal
enterprise architecture. The architecture ties spending to government lines of business
and promotes cross- agency initiatives. More fiscal 2004 budget requests will be tied to
the architecture. 


Transportation
security


The law creating the Transportation Security
Administration, signed by President Bush in November 2001, emphasized airport and aviation
security. The Maritime Transportation Antiterrorism Act of 2002 (S. 1214), sponsored by
Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., seeks to improve the security of U.S. seaports. Provisions
include more automatic identification systems and mandatory advanced electronic
information about cargoes.


The bill, which is in conference to
resolve House and Senate differences, also authorizes more vulnerability assessments as
well as catastrophic event planning.


<>
SIZE="2">A-76/Commercial Activities Panel

OMB is expected to
release a revamped Circular A-76 this month, which provides guidelines for how government
work is competed with the private sector. The new circular will be based on
recommendations of the Commercial Activities Panel, which released its report in April.


Panel members agreed on 10 sourcing principles, such as reserving
inherently governmental work for federal employees, but did not reach consensus in several
other areas. For example, there was dissent among the members about using the Federal
Acquisition Regulation to guide the A-76 process. A 45-day comment period will follow the
release of the new circular. 


TRAC
Act


The Truthfulness, Responsibility and Accountability in
Contracting Act has been defeated several times, but the bill, or versions of it, will
continue to pop up. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Md., would temporarily
suspend all outsourcing, and thereafter would require any outsourcing to be based on a
public-private competition that compares costs under the A-76 process.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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