GSA makes deals for credit protection services

In an effort to expedite the response to data breaches and lessen the cost for credit protection, the General Services Administration awarded blanket-purchase agreements (BPAs) to three credit monitoring firms.

Given the recent spate of data thefts that left several agencies scrambling to provide credit protection to potential victims, GSA officials believe that having these contracts in place gives agencies one less thing to worry about in the event of a data breach.

'It's a line of business we felt we needed to be in,' a GSA spokesman said.

GSA awarded the BPAs to Equifax Inc. of Atlanta, Experian Consumer Direct of Irvine, Calif., and Bearak Reports, a small business in Framingham, Mass.

The spokesman said GSA awarded the deals in light of the massive data thefts and breaches seen in recent months, starting with the stolen Veterans Affairs Department computer containing data on more than 26 million veterans in May. The Transportation, Education, Energy and Agriculture departments, and the Government Accountability Office, Navy and IRS have also reported potential data losses this summer.

But the contract serves a dual purpose, the spokesman said, as it demonstrates the agency's efforts to become the government's premier contracting office. 'Unless we did this, we'd have individual agencies doing their own thing and, there you go again, you've got contract proliferation,' he said.

By using these BPAs, agencies can reduce costs while also increasing oversight and reporting functions, GSA said.

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