Three win HSPD-12 services work

The Homeland Security Department has awarded five-year blanket purchase agreement contracts to BearingPoint Inc., EDS Corp. and Xtec Inc. to provide services to comply with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12.

The three awards, which total $180 million, are for implementation and to support the issuance of secure identification cards to employees and contractors.

"We are doing more than issuing ID cards. We are establishing a common identification credential in one infrastructure for technological and physical access across the department," Elaine Duke, DHS' deputy undersecretary for management, said in a news release.

Industry sources said that at the same time DHS issued the request for information for the BPA, it issued the first task order under the contract. Sources expect DHS to award the task order soon for 10,000 cards and to build the infrastructure at the agency's headquarters office.

DHS has lagged in meeting the Bush administration's HSPD-12 requirements. It received approval from the Office of Management and Budget to push back its implementation to December 2008 for 80 percent of its employees and December 2010 for the remaining 20 percent.

Even with the extension, DHS may not meet the 2010 deadline, a recent inspector general report found.

DHS added experience to its HSPD-12 office in December 2007 by bringing in Deborah Gallagher, former chief technology officer at the Defense Department's Access Card Office.

There is little public information on DHS' progress toward meeting the presidential mandate. The department's progress in issuing cards and completing security clearances is not available on the Web site.

Jeremy Grant, a senior vice president at the Stanford Research Group who follows the smart-card industry, said the fact that DHS took so long to comply with a presidential directive shows that the agency likely has been having some problems.

"It's encouraging to see that DHS is finally taking a key step to comply with this important directive," Grant said. "To be fair, a key issue we see at DHS and many other agencies is that HSPD-12 efforts are getting great lip service and little direct funding. Agencies are being told to find the money in existing accounts ? which sounds great, since it in theory gets you an HSPD-12 system for nothing ? but in practice, it isn't getting agencies too far."

Still, the award is expected to help DHS begin issuing cards that comply with HSPD-12.

"Given the size of DHS as the largest civilian cabinet agency and its role in our nation's homeland defense, this is a great opportunity for us," said Tab Warlitner, senior vice president at BearingPoint's public services civilian agency segment. "We have extensive experience with standing up and integrating HSPD-12 systems, and we are ready to compete at the task order level."

John Sindelar, an EDS client industry executive and former General Services Administration official, said the award is a critical step forward for DHS because they must be a leader in security.

"Identity management is both an important component and a facilitator for the convergence of physical and logical security," he added.

"The approach they are taking hopefully will speed their process forward," said Kevin Kozlowski, vice president of XTec's government division. "It is a good strategy to award to multiple people to cover themselves down the road. DHS understands this is about building the infrastructure to utilize the cards, and not about issuing cards."

EDS of Plano, Texas, ranks No. 10 on Washington Technology's 2007 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors. BearingPoint of McLean, Va., ranks No. 24 on the list.

Jason Miller writes for Government Computer News and Federal Computer Week, 1105 Government Information Group publications.

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