Interior moves to centralize security software management

The Interior Department has issued a blanket purchase agreement to Merlin International Inc. of Denver under which the agency will gradually centralize its acquisition of Symantec security software and services, the company said.

Interior already uses Symantec firewall apps and related systems under several existing agreements that are set to be phased out as the new contract progressively takes hold in the nine bureaus it covers, the company said.

The BPA comprises an enterprise agreement that includes an enterprise license for Symantec's AntiVirus Enterprise Edition. Interior's component bureaus will benefit by obtaining the Symantec software and services for lower prices because the contract provides for centrally negotiated discounts, Merlin said. The purchasing agreement provides for procurement of some $2 million in software and services annually, vendor officials said.

Interior's far-flung bureaus and facilities nationwide will be able to use Symantec's data and system protection apps, including firewalls and tools to monitor and prevent inappropriate use of the department's systems, the company said.

Interior's inspector general revealed in a recent report that the department's bureaus hadn't adopted strong, consistent means of detecting and preventing inappropriate employee use of federal systems. As a result, some Interior employees have been wasting their time and the department's system resources on gambling, shopping and pornography Web sites, according to the IG report. The report recommended the adoption of consistent policies and systems to detect and punish inappropriate system use.

'Overall, the applications will focus on securing increasingly sensitive online interactions, such as financial transactions and cross-departmental information, as well as increasingly malicious threats and crimeware,' Merlin said in a press statement.

The company said its Professional Services team would help Interior's IT staff implement, maintain and manage the security software.

The newly installed systems also will help Interior agencies recover from system failures or malware attacks, the vendor press statement said.

Interior did not immediately add any additional information about the procurement.

John Trauth, Merlin's executive vice president for government systems, said that Interior had informed his company that one key strength the department recognized in their proposal was an aggressive plan to market the Symantec security systems and associated services across Interior agencies.

'I think that one important reason why they awarded this contract is that they are hoping that more folks will leverage this centralized procurement,' Trauth said.

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