The news in brief

New management for DOD biz

The new Defense Business Transformation Agency, established Oct. 7 by the Defense Department, will manage some of the agency's largest business programs.

BTA will handle business process re-engineering, core business mission activities and some Investment Review Board matters, the Defense Department said. By Nov. 30, 18 programs, systems and initiatives, including the Defense Travel System, Standard Procurement System and Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System, will be transferred to BTA.

DHS 2006 spending finalized

President Bush signed the fiscal 2006 Homeland Security Department appropriations bill, which includes $30.8 billion in net discretionary spending.

The spending bill adopts DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff's plan in most respects, and congressional leaders repeatedly have said that they will cooperate with administration moves to shift funds in accordance with the reorganization.

The department's technology spending level of about $6 billion contains large technology initiatives such as major programs for a centralized financial management system, consolidated networks, new technology under the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program and likely upgrades to border IT under the America's Shield Initiative.

The spending bill includes other sources of funding for IT, much of it woven into technology-heavy programs such as the Coast Guard's $933 million Integrated Deepwater program to overhaul the service's fleet and IT systems.

Customs and Border Protection received $5.95 billion in direct funding, much of it for the Automated Commercial Environment program to update Customs' IT, as well as technology to hire, train and support an additional 1,000 Border Patrol agents.

The spending bill allocates $4 billion to a new Preparedness Directorate created by Chertoff's reorganization plan, which will include cybersecurity, among other functions.

GSA plans winter initiatives

The General Services Administration's Federal Acquisition Service is gearing up for a busy winter, with tasks to include:

  • Reviewing hundreds of Networx telecommunications governmentwide acquisition contract proposals

  • Releasing by Dec. 31 the request for proposals for Satellite Services Program II

  • Issuing by Nov. 11 any changes on the 10-year, multibillion-dollar Alliant IT contract

  • Developing initiatives for customer supply channels

  • Creating an agency working group to examine areas for improvements in the Integrated Technology Service.

NIEM info-sharing draft is out

The first release of the National Information Exchange Model, developed by the Homeland Security and Justice departments to simplify data exchange among agencies, is now available.

An Extensible Markup Language schemata, NIEM lets agencies encode data using standardized metadata for information exchange.

Based on Justice's Global Justice XML Data Model, NIEM 0.1 is being expanded to cover common items of interest beyond the criminal justice committee.

The deadline for feedback for the next iteration, NIEM 0.2, is Oct. 25.

IRS readies sourcing study

In a posting, IRS said it is seeking industry capabilities for a seat-management competitive sourcing study under the Office of Management and Budget's Circular A-76.

The competition would involve about 2,700 IRS IT positions, and providers would have to handle workload surges of the tax-processing environment and user populations that range from 90,000 to 120,000, depending on the time of year.

Responses are due by Nov. 14.

Waiver sought for meetings

Industry representatives advising the Homeland Security Department on protecting the nation's IT resources and other critical infrastructure should be exempt from a law requiring public disclosure and public meetings, according to a presidential advisory committee's working group.

In a report submitted Oct. 11, the National Infrastructure Advisory Council's Sector Partnership Model Working Group urged DHS to waive the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act for industry groups representing the 17 critical infrastructure sectors.

States to promote data sharing

The national organization representing state CIOs won a $500,000 grant from the Justice Department to promote a common framework for information sharing at all levels of government.

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers of Lexington, Ky., plans to include agencies outside the justice community in the enterprise architecture initiative, including the Environ- mental Protection Agency and Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Transportation departments.

Thompson offers DHS reorg plan

Dissatisfied with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's proposal to improve DHS operations, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) Oct. 6 introduced the Department of Homeland Security Reform Act of 2005.

Among the differences between the two proposals: Thompson's bill would create a stronger Directorate of Preparedness and Response, including a reinvigorated Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Chertoff's plan would eliminate the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate and farm out its responsibilities to other DHS elements.

Xerox copiers earn clearance

Six Xerox color copiers and multifunction devices recently earned Common Criteria Certification from the National Information Assurance Partnership.

The Xerox WorkCentre Pro C2128, C2636 and C3545 multifunction devices, and CopyCentre C2128, C2636 and C3545 color copiers were certified at Evaluation Assurance Level 2. Level 7 is the highest security assurance.

The certification was based on Xerox's Image Overwrite Security, which electronically shreds documents, and embedded fax security.

EU to share justice info

A proposed framework released Oct. 12 by the European Commission would let European countries seamlessly exchange law enforcement information, such as DNA profiles and fingerprints.

Current rules dictate that a country may only request data if it knows that a member state holds that data. The new proposal requires member states to notify one another on whether certain types of information are available and accessible in online electronic databases.

GAO: Rail security directionless

Federal government efforts to protect mass transit systems from terrorists are disjointed and do not get enough input from system owners, according to an Oct. 7 Government Accountability Office report.

The Transportation Security Administration as of July had not completed vulnerability and risk assessments for mass transit systems, nor collaborated sufficiently with system operators to get the information to complete the assessments, GAO said.

GAO recommended considering measures being taken in Europe and Asia, including covertly testing systems.

Senate OKs Myers for DHS

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this month approved appointment of attorney Julie Myers as assistant secretary of Homeland Security in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Myers will inherit a law enforcement agency with a staff of 4,000 and a $20 billion budget.

Critics contend Myers, who has been criticized for lacking substantial administrative accomplishments or experience with immigration matters, will face difficult IT management problems with little experience in the field.

EU pushes interoperable biometrics

To aid in reaching consensus on government policies for biometrics, the European Union launched a new public information portal for information exchange and community-building activities.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, said that the public European Biometrics portal, a free Web site, is intended to help coordinate approaches on how to resolve issues related to privacy and security in deploying biometric systems.

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