Homeland watch: In brief

SBI-Net: Read fine print

The 144-page request for proposals for the Secure Border Initiative-Net surveillance system holds a few surprises.

For one, it requires that the SBI-Net hiring conform to the Homeland Security Department's Basic Pilot employment verification program, in which employers check with a Social Security number database for prospective employees.

About 2,300 employers use Basic Pilot voluntarily, and there are concerns it may not handle a huge increase in usage. Also, the winning contractor is expected to use the same contracts as the federal Integrated Wireless Network.

However, SBI-Net may not be able to piggyback on IWN, as the RFP states that the deployment or capability of IWN "may not be synchronized or be sufficient to support SBI-Net."

Another possible sticky subject is a section forbidding DHS from contracting with a "foreign incorporated entity" unless the DHS secretary approves a waiver.

It was not immediately clear whether the clause might affect Ericsson Inc., headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, one of the potential prime bidders for SBI-Net.

Safety Act review to be expedited

The winner of the SBI-Net contract gets a bonus prize: fast track consideration for Safety Act liability protections, according to the RFP.

Products and services for SBI-Net will be "good candidates" for designation under the Safety Act and will receive "expedited" and "streamlined" consideration, the RFP states.

But there is no guarantee that the designation will be granted.

Postscript: Doyle leaves DHS

For the record: The controversial Brian Doyle, former DHS deputy press secretary who resigned after being arrested April 4 in an Internet sex sting, apparently never spoke directly with Washington Technology during his tenure at the department.

But he must have impressed his bosses nonetheless: Published reports show that Doyle initially was hired as a TSA spokesman in 2002 before being promoted to departmental spokesman in 2004.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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