GSA to stop paying for HSPD-12 vendor testing

The General Services Administration today announced that as of April 3 it will no longer pay for vendors to test their products and services to ensure they are interoperable under Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 requirements.

GSA set up a free testing lab last May to make sure agencies had options for equipment and help from vendors to meet the mandate and its requirements under the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Federal Information Processing Standard-201.

But the agency, in a Federal Register notice, said it decided to stop testing products and services for free. It said costs for testing 'will be borne on a cost-reimbursable basis by the supplier.'

Since seeting up the lab, GSA spent about $725,000 on testing products, said Steven Kempf, acting deputy assistant commissioner for IT Services in the Federal Acquisition Service.

After April 3, GSA will certify independent testing labs and vendors will pay them for the evulations, Kempf added.

"HSPD-12 had too short of a lead time to allow the test lab structure to be put in place," Kempf said.

GSA said it will post instructions and an estimated fee structure on its FIPS-201 evaluation Web site.

"The efficiency of testing improves with experience; we would expect the cost to firms to be less than the costs to GSA to approve the initial approved products," Kempf said.

In addition to GSA's testing, NIST validates smart card and middleware components to ensure they meet FIPS-201.

Over the past eight months, GSA has tested products or services in 22 categories and approved 166 products from 75 vendors and 30 vendors to provide services. The agency also approved five vendors and the Treasury Department to provide public-key infrastructure digital certificates under HSPD-12.

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