FAA sets cybersecurity center buildup

Recompete planned for $18.5 million operating pact

The Transportation Department's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is preparing to recompete Northop Grumman's existing contract to operate the agency's IT security management center, which helps safeguard systems across the department. FAA plans to expand and improve the center so it will be able to provide IT security services to agencies outside the department.

The FAA facility, known as the Cybersecurity Management Center (CSMC), now is operated by Northrop Grumman under a contract that is set to expire in January, 2009, according to the market analysis firm Input of Reston, Va. Input estimates the likely value of the new contract at $18.5 million annually.

The aviation safety agency's procurement documents describe plans for expansion at the IT security center, including upgrading the CSMC's role from an incident response office to a "Center of Excellence."

That upgrade process will lead to CSMC's attaining the status of a shared services center under the Office of Management and Budget's Lines of Business program, so it can provide IT security support to agencies across the government.

According to the FAA, the center's expansion will include:
  • Additional staff, to reinforce the duty officer's role and to increase IT security analyst services;
  • Systems integration work for "somewhat disparate hardware platforms and applications," according to the FAA;
  • More training on cybersecurity topics;
  • New "situational awareness," or risk knowledge support, especially regarding online incidents as they occur;
  • Technical help in interpreting the implications of alert messages for FAA systems; and
  • Support for agency teams as they scan systems potentially affected by cyberattacks.

Tne agency plans to host an industry day presentation tomorrow for likely bidders at the FAA center's Leesburg, Va. offices. The FAA procurement documents specify that would-be attendees had to register by last Thursday, Feb. 14. The CSMC accommodates 20 visitors at a time, so the FAA will hold two tours, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Input projects that the FAA will request proposals for the work in April and likely will award a contract in October.

The FAA center helps protect networks and systems that carry out pivotal functions for safety of air travelers and aviators, including the National Airspace System.

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