GSA closes window on proposals for digital certificate contracts

GSA closes window on proposals for digital certificate contracts

By Christopher J. Dorobek

GCN Staff

With three vendors already stepping up to the plate, the General Services Administration has closed the solicitation period on its digital certificate program.

Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health and the Education Department continue with plans to develop public-key infrastructures using the Access Certificates for Electronic Services (ACES) program.

GSA had been negotiating with Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego for a fourth contract, but SAIC determined that it could not meet the pricing scheme.

Through ACES, vendors had to meet the prices proposed by Digital Signature Trust Co. of Salt Lake City, which won the first ACES contract. Since then, GSA has awarded ACES contracts to AT&T Corp. and Operational Research Consultants Inc. of Chesapeake, Va.

Cost drops

Under the contracts, the cost per certificate drops based on volume. Digital Signature Trust proposed prices ranging from 40 cents to $1.20 per certificate.

Meanwhile, NIH will be the first agency to complete an ACES task order, said Peter Alterman, director of operations for NIH's Office of Extramural Research.

Initially, NIH will use the ACES contract to develop a PKI for the NIH Commons project, which will let grant seekers submit applications electronically and communicate with NIH about their applications.

'Password management is difficult for end users, and it's not all that secure,'' Alterman said.

The Education Department's Office of Student Financial Assistance is looking at using ACES.

Alterman said that in many cases there are crossover customers. Both NIH and Education, for example, run grant programs.

'The more we can align ourselves with what our customers are using, the better off we are,'' he said.

It will be at least a year, however, before actual certificates are issued, Alterman said.

Andrew J. Boots, champion for information privacy and security for OSFA, said Education is looking at possibly conducting a digital-certificate pilot project with a handful of schools, possibly the ones involved with the Access America for Students project.

Education is working with its modernization contractor, Andersen Consulting of Chicago.

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