VA, HUD, Navy shore up security with BPAs

VA, HUD, Navy shore up security with BPAs

By William Jackson

GCN Staff

The Veterans Affairs and the Housing and Urban Development departments as well as the Navy's Military Sealift Command have awarded information security task orders under the General Services Administration's Safeguard program.

Safeguard, a collection of blanket purchasing agreements with 27 companies, aims to help agencies implement Presidential Decision Directive 63, which mandates protection against cyberterrorism and other threats.

Working partners

The contractors work in conjunction with the Office of Information Security in GSA's Federal Technology Service.

The first Safeguard BPA was awarded in April and the latest in July.

Each BPA has a maximum value of $250 million and runs through Sept. 30, 2000, with three optional years.

VA awarded the first task order last month to Booz, Allen & Hamilton Inc. of McLean, Va.

The sealift command gave a task order to Unisys Corp., and HUD's went to AverStar Inc. of Burlington, Mass.

PDD 63 requires the government to protect not only conventional assets but also computer data and telecommunications systems from terrorists and hackers as well as from earthquakes, floods and storms.

Deputy Defense secretary John Hamre has described the current status of hacker intrusions as a cyberwar [GCN, Aug. 23, Page 8]. Few agencies have established comprehensive programs to assess and correct vulnerabilities, however.

According to the statement of work for Safeguard contractors, 'Federal agencies and departments carry a very high risk index simply from association with the .gov or .mil domains.'

Safeguard provides services in six areas: critical infrastructure asset identification; risk management; continuity and contingency planning; physical infrastructure protection; systems security and information assurance; and emergency preparedness, awareness training, exercises and simulations.

Security services are available through other contract vehicles, but the Safeguard program is distinguished by the security expertise of OIS, said Ronald Mock, manager for business development.

Helping hand

'There is a need for some in-house support to blend with the industry partners,' he said.

OIS, formed in 1962, provides cryptographic support to agencies. 'All of our people are top-secret, cleared with special access clearance, as appropriate,' Mock said.

Although some security experts have credited year 2000 problems with raising awareness of security, the resources devoted to code fixes have left little room in budgets for security spending.

'Security is expensive. Getting funding for security is a challenge across the board,' he said.

More information about the Safeguard program appears on the Web at fts.gsa.gov/safeguard.

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