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Caucus convenes to find new technologies

When triaging soldiers wounded in battle, it's not always obvious who needs attention first, and a misjudgment could be catastrophic.

The solution is putting medics through realistic, intensive training in triage procedures, with all the sights and sounds of war to give them the best chance of performing when the situation is real. That's just one example of how modeling and simulation is evolving to encompass more than combat training for the military.

The technology was on display this month on Capitol Hill at an exhibition sponsored by the Congressional Modeling and Simulation Caucus, a group that promotes technology development.

"Our focus has been that 85 percent of the warfighter's job is not to fight, it's to support [other] warfighters," said Waymon Armstrong, president of Engineering & Computer Simulations Inc., Orlando, Fla. "We're using game-based learning for training on procedures. Our combat medic application trains for the decision-making on how to treat a casualty." The Army Medical Command Center uses the program instruction, he said.

Armstrong sees a trend of building applications for generally mundane processes for which personnel need reinforcement.

"A lot of things we put into the medic game are going to throw you off," Armstrong said. "The person screaming the loudest might have the most minimal injuries, and the person not screaming is the one you need to treat."

Homeland security duties, such as inspecting vehicles or screening people at a border, are other tasks now covered by simulations, said Dale Olsen, president and CEO Simmersion LLC, Columbia, Md. His company has an application that trains customs agents in interviewing people arriving by plane in the United States.

"It teaches them how to determine when somebody is lying to them or not," Olsen said. "The basic part of this training is to recognize subtle signs of deception that most of us don't pick up."

His company has similar applications to train doctors to distinguish between common diseases such as chicken pox, and rare ones such as small pox.

"The innovativeness, multi-use applicability and affordability of modeling and simulation hold the possibility to maintain and enhance the economic competitiveness of this country," said Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), caucus chairman. ? Doug Beizer

Protection plan draws criticism

The federal government's final National Infrastructure Protection Plan fails to address matters of funding and concerns over protecting sensitive information, said a new report from market research firm Input Inc.

The final plan, released June 30, falls short because it doesn't define a source of new funding for protecting the nation's critical infrastructure, nor does it offer adequate protections for sensitive information that businesses would be required to provide to the government under the plan, the report said.

ID cards are tested

The Homeland Security and Transportation departments last week began testing interoperability of different identification cards at three ports.

The exercise was to see how identification cards with different types of tokens work in disparate environments, but would not test DHS' Transportation Worker Identification Cards. The exercise is similar to the Winter Fox event DHS held with first responders in February.

Hold the duct tape

The Homeland Security Department has revamped its emergency preparedness advertising campaign with a Web site makeover that highlights natural, rather than terrorism, risks.

The retooled site reflects the department's philosophy that a well-prepared citizenry can dramatically lighten the burden on first responders, and contrasts with some hasty foul-ups early in the department's history, symbolized for the public by former Secretary Tom Ridge's advice to stock up on duct tape to seal off door ways.

Cubic sets up Guard training

Without leaving home, members of the Indiana National Guard this month are getting a taste of what combat is like in Afghanistan and Iraq.

For an exercise lasting most of July, Cubic Corp. is providing role players, scenario development, battlefield effects and other training support for a comprehensive combat training exercise involving more than 750 members of the Indiana National Guard.

N.C. to ACS: It's over>

Citing breach of contract, the North Carolina Health and Human Services Department this month terminated Affiliated Computer Services Inc.'s $171 million, five-year contract to deliver a new Medicaid payment system to the Tar Heel State.

ACS failed to meet staffing levels and did not complete terms of its contract, which called for the company to build and operate a new Medicaid Management Information System, according to Secretary Carmen Hooker Odom. ACS is considering legal action.

Missing persons database

The Homeland Security Department would be required under a new Senate-approved amendment to set up a new IT system and database for tracking missing persons and reuniting families after major disasters.

The amendment is to be included in the fiscal 2007 Homeland Security Department appropriations bill.

The legislation still must be reconciled with the House version, and both chambers must pass the final bill for it to become law.

Police radio system debuts

A statewide digital radio system, built by M/A-Com Inc., that will let Florida law enforcement agencies communicate seamlessly is now fully operational, Republican Gov. Jeb Bush said.

The 800-Mhz Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System will eliminate the need for state and law enforcement officials to switch equipment to communicate as they travel throughout the state, state officials said. It is intended for use in both emergency and non-emergency situations.

Indus protests Eagle award

Indus Corp. has filed a bid protest with the General Accountability Office over the Homeland Security Department's multibillion-dollar Eagle contracts for IT services.
The Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge solutions contracts, which let winning vendors compete for task orders by DHS components, could amount to as much as $45 billion over more than 10 years.

Security clearances resume

The Defense Department, after a two-and-a-half month suspension of processing, has resumed taking applications from contractors for all types of personnel security-clearance investigations.

The Defense Security Service said that the Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office has begun accepting applications for all initial investigations at the top secret, secret and confidential levels.

The Defense Security Service stopped processing in late April because of a lack of funding and a high volume of requests.

Protest of Corps deal

Northrop Grumman Corp. has filed a protest against the Army Corps of Engineers for awarding a six-year, $447 million A-76 outsourcing contract to a public-private partnership led by corps employees in conjunction with Lockheed Martin Corp.

The protest was based on "improprieties in the selection process," said Juli Ballesteros, a spokeswoman for Northrop Grumman's IT sector. Ballesteros declined to discuss the alleged improprieties or divulge any further details.

New info-sharing standard

The federal government should develop an "authorized use" standard to improve information-sharing against terrorism, said a new report from the Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security in the Information Age.

Under the proposed authorized use standard, access would be granted based on how the information will be used, rather than on nationality or location of collection.
The report also recommends a risk management approach to revise standards for classifying information.

Coast Guard shares well

The Coast Guard is monitoring and sharing counterterrorism information at three new interagency centers and 35 new sector command centers at ports around the country, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

GAO reported generally positive findings on the Coast Guard's maritime information sharing and noted improvements since its last report in April 2005.

The three interagency centers are operating around-the-clock and receive continuous data from radar, sensors and cameras.

GAO hits U.S. Visit oversight

The U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program should strengthen its oversight of the contracts it is using to build a computerized border control system, federal auditors said in an analysis of the multibillion-dollar Homeland Security Department project.

U.S. Visit's program office doesn't know the full extent of the project's contract actions and hasn't established proper financial controls, the Government Accountability Office report said.

USDA seeks Farm Bill systems

The Agriculture Department is seeking information about applications that can automate farm program business delivery, including eligibility for benefit payments.
The software should be able to provide compliance with the Farm Bill and other legislative mandates and make use of USDA's geospatial and computing technologies.

Currently, USDA's Farm Service Agency runs a complex suite of 30 applications that rely on data on computers at county service centers.

Responses are due July 28.

GSA readies WITS 3 solicitation

The General Services Administration plans this month to issue a final request for proposals for its eight-year, $1.8 billion Washington Interagency Telecommunications System 3 program. Industry proposals will be due 90 days after the RFP is released.

As the follow-on to the WITS2001 contract, WITS 3 will continue to furnish local telecommunications services within the National Capital Region. The WITS 3 contract is for four years with four one-year options.

Feds polish info-sharing plan

A final implementation plan will be released this month for the federal government's new Information-Sharing Environment, according to John Negroponte, director of national intelligence.

Program Manager Thomas McNamara, who runs the initiative, is developing policies and processes for the environment, publishing an IT architecture and completing the implementation plan, Negroponte told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce National Security Business Forum.

Second DHS data center

The Homeland Security Department is looking to IT companies for ideas on building a redundant data center to supplement the one it operates under an agreement with the Navy.

In a request for information, the Office of Procurement Operations is asking for industry input in developing objectives, performance metrics and service-level agreements for a performance-based service contract.

DOD to reorg Iraq contracting

The Defense Department's Business Transformation Agency has been charged with restructuring and transforming contracting processes and systems in Iraq.

The Task Force to Support Improved DOD Contracting and Stability Operations in Iraq will evaluate the Defense Department business enterprise processes and systems in Iraq affecting contracting, logistics, fund distribution and financial management and will ensure alignment to theater commanders' goals for reconstruction and economic development.

U.S. Visit security flogged

Use of radio frequency identification tags in the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program has been applied with privacy protections but has been inadequately configured and tested to ensure that those protections are effective, said a new report from the Homeland Security Department inspector general.

Through last year, U.S. Visit had issued about 150,000 RFID-enabled Form I-94 documents issued to foreign visitors at several U.S. land ports of entry.

Protection grants coming

Nearly $400 million in infrastructure-protection grants will be awarded to seaports, mass transit systems, chemical plants, rail systems and other critical facilities by September, the Homeland Security Department said.

The money is intended for developing sustainable, risk-based, critical infrastructure security initiatives for threats that could have devastating impacts, a DHS news release said.

The grant application process closes Aug. 5.

Feds codify EVM rule

Federal acquisition officials have finalized a rule that details how agencies should implement an earned-value management system for managing major acquisitions.
In a notice, the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council said the rule was not altered significantly from its April 2005 draft and there will be no public meetings on the new standards.

The rule is now incorporated in the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

Raytheon buys Virtual Technology

Raytheon Co. has acquired modeling and simulation company Virtual Technology Corp. of Alexandria, Va. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

VTC furnishes mission support for the Joint Automated Deep Operations Coordination System, a Defense Department tool for battlefield planning that it developed and fielded to more than 5,000 users.

Gemalto is coming to town

In a move that will help push the company into the federal market, Gemalto N.V. will make Washington the headquarters for its North American operations and its security and identity line of business.

The company already has an office in Arlington, Va., but is looking at additional properties for its headquarters, company officials said. The headquarters likely will be established some time next year.

Gemalto was formed in June when smart-card company Axalto Holding N.V. of the Netherlands merged with its larger rival Gemplus International S.A. of Luxembourg in a stock deal worth about $1.1 billion. Both companies make smart cards, or microprocessor cards, which are used for mobile phones, payment cards and identification cards for the corporate and government markets.

Project Performance aids NRC
Project Performance Corp. has won four contracts worth $2.4 million to assist the Nuclear Regulatory Commission with a variety of IT management, security and technical projects.

The McLean, Va., company won contracts to manage a licensing process for nuclear reactors, deploy a wireless LAN that can transmit sensitive and classified information, modernize a records management process and conduct a security assessment of major IT systems.

The commission expects as many as 20 nuclear plants will submit applications for new licenses using one of four new designs for reactors.

SAIC lands on the docket

Science Applications International Corp. won a five-year, $54.8 million contract to deliver IT services to the Superior Court of San Diego County. Three one-year options could raise the total value to $88.3 million.

Under the contract, SAIC will furnish network, desktop and teleconferencing services; data center support; and cross-functional services. SAIC's partners on the project are Computer Sciences Corp. and Communication Wiring Specialists Inc. of San Diego.

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