As GSA begins evaluating pair of ACES bids, Commerce agency sets deal for PKIservices

The Commerce Department’s National Technical Information Service has formed a
partnership with Electronic Data Systems Corp. to provide public-key infrastructure
services to federal, state and local government organizations.

The move comes as at least two contractors have bid on the General Services
Administration’s governmentwide digital certificate service contract.

The partnership between NTIS and EDS has been in the works for a year and was driven by
requests from NTIS customers, said Chris Louden, director of NTIS’ FedWorld.

The NTIS-EDS partnership will not compete with GSA’s Access Certificates for
Electronic Service project, Louden said.

“We think there is a pretty good chance we’ll be working with ACES,” he
said. “We don’t want to be in the certificate business. We want to be in the PKI

Shakil Kidwai, EDS’ vice president for government information assurance services,
said ACES targets interaction with citizens. NTIS will focus on the agency-to-agency or
agency-to-business part of the PKI market, he said.

“You can buy a certificate from any vendor,” Kidwai said. “What you
really need are the integration services so you can have your PKI enabled.”

Louden said government organizations have expressed interest in three areas of the
NTIS-EDS partnership:

Kidwai said EDS decided not to submit a proposal for ACES because it is concerned about
liability issues and whether vendors could make money on the project. These are issues
that vendors have reiterated repeatedly since GSA first publicized the project. The agency
in recent weeks issued a legal finding by its lawyers that said the government, not ACES
vendors, would be liable for any accidental release or misuse of personal data.

Although GSA officials would not confirm the information, both Digital Signature Trust
Co. of Salt Lake City and AT&T Corp. have submitted proposals.

“Evaluations are under way,” said Judith A. Spencer, director of the Office
of Information Technology Center for Governmentwide Security in GSA’s Federal
Technology Service. “We are hoping for a midsummer award.”

GSA could request on-site capability demonstrations, she said. “Those are at our
discretion,” Spencer said. 

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