OMB sets Networx MTIPS deadlines

Agencies must place orders by Aug. 31

Federal agencies have until Aug. 31 to place their orders for Managed Trusted IP Services, which must  be fully operational by Jan. 31, 2011, according to a May 12 memo obtained by Washington Technology.

The memo was sent to agency chief information officers via the General Services Administration’s e-mail listserv “on behalf of Michael Howell,” Office of Management and Budget deputy administrator for e-Gov & IT. The memo advises agencies that orders placed after Aug. 31 “will not be eligible to qualify for coverage of the transition costs.”


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MTIPS is the umbrella term for services available under GSA’s Networx contract for implementing OMB’s Trusted Internet Connections initiative of 2007. The deadlines are for MTIPS only and do not apply to TIC services that agencies are supplying themselves or acquiring through agencies that OMB has certified as TIC access providers, an OMB official said.

That could change after OMB has evaluated public comment on the second draft of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, set for release June 25, said Howard Schmidt, the White House’s cyber coordinator. The document will lay out goals and objectives to allow for laws, policies and programs to improve the trustworthiness of digital identities in cyberspace, Schmidt said earlier this week.

Unlikely to change is OMB’s year-end MTIPS implementation deadline. Jan. 31, 2011 “is the deadline for agencies’ external connections to be routed through MTIPS TIC access points,” the memo said, although it detailed no penalties for failure to comply.

Further, it said, “to fully implement this plan and begin using MTIPS, CIOs will need to sign a Banner Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and execute a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the Homeland Security Department.”

The wait to acquire another stamp of approval, this one an agencywide Authority to Operate from GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service Office of the CIO to Networx MTIPS providers, might also be hampering the MTIPS implementation timeline. Only AT&T  thus has far received its governmentwide ATO. In the works are GSA ATOs for Qwest Government Services, Sprint Nextel Federal Programs and Verizon Federal Business.

The timeline for certification and authorization by FAS is largely in the hands of Networx TIPS carriers, said FAS CIO Elizabeth DelNegro. Her office cannot begin the certification and authorization process until carriers submit “final packages for review, testing, and subsequent issuance of ATO,” she said.

As of June 7, only AT&T and Qwest had completed requirements. Qwest’s process kicked off June 10. “We are waiting on the rest of the contractors to submit their packages,” DelNegro said.

However, agencies can issue their own ATOs, said Diana Gowen, Qwest senior vice president and general manager. That is what the Treasury Department’s Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau did in awarding Qwest its MTIPS fair opportunity business in May.

“We’re talking with several other agencies, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, about MTIPS,” Gowen said. But waiting for the governmentwide ATO lets agencies piggyback on GSA’s certification and authorization, which is based on its security testing and evaluation efforts, rather than doing its own.

The decision is understandable, especially for smaller agencies and in the context of a recent request by Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff, and Peter Orszag, OMB director, that agencies cut 5 percent from their 2012 budget requests.

OMB’s May 12 MTIPS memo set June 1 as the deadline for agencies to make their MTIPS Fair Opportunity decisions.

However, in a Networx statement of work status report it issued June 7, GSA listed only five SOWs issued for MTIPS:

  • The Agriculture Department made its MTIPS award May 4 to AT&T.
  • GSA’s Office of the CIO MTIPS SOW proposals were due Sept. 21.
  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (Commerce Department) MTIPS SOW proposals were due March 15.
  • OMB Executive Office of the President MTIPS SOW is under review by GSA.
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission MTIPS SOW is under review by GSA.

Additionally, AT&T announced in February that it had won an MTIPS award from the Federal Trade Commission and is on track to finish the implementation by year’s end.

About the Author

Sami Lais is a special contributor to Washington Technology.

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