Air Force deal offers a model for outsourcing IT security

'Using the Air Force contract structure, contract terms and lessons learned as a point of departure could save months of effort for another agency,' Air Force CIO John Gilligan says.

The Air Force's recent enterprise deal with Microsoft Corp. could serve as an example of what future IT security services contracts could look like, Transportation Department CIO Dan Matthews said.

'I think that is the model that agencies will end up following in the future,' said Matthews, who also is vice chairman of the CIO Council.

The Air Force last year signed two agreements with Microsoft, valued at $500 million over six years, that will replace 38 decentralized software contracts.

The Air Force will consolidate more than 525,000 desktop computers into one of three security configurations. Microsoft will identify vulnerabilities and implement fixes across the enterprise.

'Using the Air Force contract structure, contract terms and lessons learned as a point of departure could save months of effort for another agency,' said Air Force CIO John Gilligan. The deal provides a model for how agencies could consolidate disparate product and technical support efforts under an enterprise approach, which could produce significant cost savings and more secure and efficient operations.

Systems security, not costs, drove the contract consolidation, Gilligan said.

'Given the budget situation of the last few years and into the foreseeable future, the likelihood that agencies will be able to afford to hire new IT security workers is relatively slim,' Matthews said.

So agencies must figure out how they're going to find workers with the necessary security skills. 'The Air Force model will probably be tweaked, but it's probably the core about how to go about security in these massive networks,' he said.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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