CONTRACT AND BUYERS GUIDES: Many Agencies Hang With DAR(TT)

The Data-At-Rest (DAR) encryption technology program is an alliance that spans a gamut stretching from GSA to the Defense department’s top security experts at the Enterprise Software Initiative (ESI).

It’s a case where out of a specific need, a critical alliance was formed to fight a war that’s being conducted with bits, bytes and bauds.

 

Two major contracting forces – GSA and DOD’s Enterprise Software Initiative (ESI) – joined up to form DAR and the DAR Tiger Team (DARTT) as part of the ESI and GSA SmartBUY program in 2006. The idea was to determine and then qualify the best commercial encryption systems for protecting sensitive data on mobile devices and removable storage media and reduce the costs government would pay to obtain the systems.

 

DAR is a much bigger alliance than just GSA and DOD when measured across the horizon of it beneficiaries. To date, users of DAR-qualified software under the BPAs include the IRS, Defense Logistics Agency, Commerce, Energy, TSA, Army, NATO and a multi-state consortium led by New York State. Other state and local agencies in Ohio, Washington, Georgia, South Carolina, Michigan, Florida, and Connecticut have purchased products from the BPAs through a GSA cooperative program.

 

According to GSA, as for DAR-related cost savings, the DAR BPAs had resulted in the purchase of products listed at $76 million in value for only $16.6 million in actual costs as of May.

 

John Johnson, GSA ITS assistant commissioner said in an interview with 1105 Custom Media that the BPA had resulted in a DARTT acquisition process focused on encryption of “highly mobile data and decreased device sizes”.

 

Technology support for the program, the Tiger Team, comes from the U.S. Air Force’s 754th Electronic Systems Group at Gunter Air Force Base, Ala., the acquisition arm of DOD ESI, and elsewhere such as the Army’s DARTT.

 

The Army in fact is one of the leaders in the OMB-mandated implementation of DAR encryption to protect sensitive information and mobile devices, having negotiated a service-wide enterprise license agreement (with technical services), and developed training, procurement instructions, and implementation guidance.

 

From its inception, the DARTT quickly evolved into an interagency team comprised of 20 DOD components, 18 federal agencies and NATO. In June of 2007 the first DAR contract awards went to 12 companies, a contracting process that David Wennergren, DOD's deputy CIO, called “truly historic in that agencies from all levels of government came together to solve a problem and develop an acquisition solution to meet all federal, state and local government data-at-rest security requirements in an incredibly short time-frame.”

 

Given the dynamic nature of computing devices and the proliferation of mobile computing in government, it would hardly be surprising if most every agency eventually cashed in on the DARTT’s work and the BPAs.

 

“Personal identity information (PII) or sensitive government information stored on devices such as laptops, thumb drives and PDAs is often unaccounted for and unprotected, and that can pose a problem if these devices are compromised,” Johnson said in describing the case for DAR encryption.

 

More DAR info is available on the ESI and GSA Web sites at www.esi.mil and http://www.gsa.gov/smartbuy.  

DARTT Is a Prize-Winner 


In June, the 2008 Intergovernmental Government Solutions Award was given to DARTT at the annual Management of Change Conference, sponsored by the American Council for Technology and the Industry Advisory Council.

The DARTT was judged superior for:

* Being intergovernmental and collaborative;
* Demonstrating technology leadership and innovations;
* Bringing about business transformation;
*
Having a measurable impact and results; and
*
Providing a solution that is available and can be replicated.


Robert Lentz, deputy assistant secretary of defense for information and identity assurance (DASD IIA), was specifically cited by the conference Executive Alliance. Accepting the awards, Lentz said of DARTT, “DOD supports intergovernmental, cooperative efforts like this, and we believe it represents a blueprint for future efforts.”

Current DAR contractors include: MTM Technologies Inc.; Rocky Mountain Ram LLC; Carahsoft Technology Corp.; Spectrum Systems Inc.; SafeNet Inc.; Hi Tech Services Inc.; immixGroup Inc.; Autonomic Resources LLC; GTSI Corp.; GovBuys Inc.; Intelligent Decisions Inc. and Merlin International.