The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is rife with opportunities for the commercial sector, according to panelists discussing ways to do business with the department speaking during the final Wednesday session at the AFCEA International Homeland Security Conference. But companies should be aware that the rules of engagement are changing, or already have changed, in a number of instances, so they should thoroughly research upcoming contract awards. Kevin Boshears, director, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, DHS, offered a few examples of the changes.
Although not claiming victory, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made some serious headway in improving cybersecurity, according to panelists discussing the topic at the DHS 2012 Information Technology Industry Day in Washington, D.C. Experts said the threats have not disappeared but rather have changed, and various DHS agencies have been learning how to better handle them. Alma Cole, chief systems security officer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, described today's cyberthreats in a way the other panelists agreed with.
Members of the two morning panels at the DHS 2012 Information Technology Industry Day hammered home the need all DHS agencies have for information sharing and information security within a mobile environment. In addition to constrained budgets-a topic that all the panelists said was unnecessary to mention yet spoke about extensively-the agencies continue to face slow processes to put these capabilities into place. Among the hurdles that continue to surface are slow certification and accreditation processes, barriers to entrance for industry and exit from contracts for government, and management of authoritative data sources.
Richard Spires, chief information officer, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), kicked off DHS Industry Day by declaring that it is time to find the balance between the IT needs of individual DHS agencies and leveraging IT throughout the department as a whole. The department needs to take a "shared first" approach to commodities and then look at unique technologies needed by the individual agencies. Although the DHS on the whole has not always completed IT projects on time and on budget, Spires said that the council has set up centers of excellence that help determine how to assist the agencies achieve success.
The worldwide budget crisis isn't just an oft-repeated catch phrase-it's the real deal-and it's affecting how nations procure and oversee their security measures and infrastructure. In fact, the economy is recognized as one of the major concerns for security provision.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have called upon industry to develop a low-cost and secure communications, network management and situational awareness system for the U.S. military, public safety agencies and commercial clients. The solution must enable remote and secure mission-based communications with or without cloud connectivity. The goal is to design a technology with both military and security applications that offers real-time information regardless of the infrastructure and equipment first responders or military members use.
General Dynamics Information Technology, Fairfax, Virginia, has been awarded a task order through the U.S. General Services Administration's Alliant Contract to support the relocation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's headquarters. The task order has a ceiling value of $876 million and duration of seven years if all options are exercised. As part of the relocation, General Dynamics will provide a seamless, state-of-the-art information-technology (IT) infrastructure that meets the computer networking, telecommunications, building management and physical-security requirements of the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters.
Covia Labs Incorporated, Mountain View, California, recently announced that it has received a contract from the U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate's Small Business Innovation Research program to research and develop public safety mobile broadband applications for mission critical voice communications. Under the contract, Covia will develop a plan and deliver software technology that leverages long-term evolution (LTE), existing communications systems, and Covia Labs' Connector interoperability platform to address these requirements.
Dynamics Research Corporation recently announced a four-year, $20 million contract award to support the enterprise architecture needs of the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Chief Information Officer. Awarded through the General Services Administration Alliant contract, the work will modernize the department's information technology assets and architecture, providing for collaboration across divisions and centralizing the capture and management of enterprise knowledge. The work ensures that the department's investments are cost-effective and mission-focused and that its information technology programs and assets are well-managed to maximize their return on investment.
Rear Adm. Michael A. Brown, USN, has been nominated for assignment as director, cybersecurity coordination, National Protection and Programs Directorate, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
SRC Incorporated recently received a contract from the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (DHS-ICE) agency with a potential value of nearly $42 million to establish and maintain a Security Operations Center to help protect critical information technology infrastructure. This contract will enable ICE to monitor its information technology assets 24 hours a day and evaluate and respond to cyber security threats. SRC will lead a team to provide innovative cybersecurity solutions, process improvement strategies and best-of-breed technologies for ICE.
"Pushing the envelope" has meant many things over the years. Boundaries range from space, where a test pilot in a fighter jet first dared to reach beyond Earth's gravity, to the laboratory, where researchers have vied for critical scientific breakthroughs that change lives. But now that envelope has expanded to include the ethereal realm of cyberspace and cyberattacks, and with the expansion, the recognition that only together will the separate organizations succeed in overcoming threats. The new U.S. National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), under the DHS umbrella, aims at being the one-stop shop for monitoring and protecting U.S. cyber infrastructure and networks.
Attendees of today's AFCEA Homeland Security conference sessions had the pleasure of hearing a quite spirited presentation by Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-CA). Sanchez spoke bluntly to the issues of the DHS mission, border security and cybersecurity, pointing out that these topics are still quite the mystery not only to the general public but to Congress as well. DHS personnel have the lowest morale of all government agencies, she stated.
Ingenious tools are being developed to make even jury-rig specialist Mac MacGyver of TV fame envious. These technologies may soon be in the hands of first responders, thanks to work being done at the DHS's Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA). The agency is pulling together the technology pieces-large and small-so responders are ready to roll when disasters strike.
During an interview with Rear Adm. Michael A Brown, USN, last week, the admiral clarified the first-of-its-kind cybersecurity partnership with the state of Michigan. The state is deploying EINSTEIN 1, an automated process the US-CERT developed to collect, correlate, analyze and share computer security information across the federal government.
CHICAGO - Juliette Kayyem, assistant secretary for intergovernmental programs, DHS, led off Thursday afternoon's interactions at the National Conference on Emergency Communications. Kayyem came to the federal government from her position with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts where she was the governor's go-to person for homeland security.
CHICAGO - National Conference on Emergency Communications attendees interested in grants to fund local programs heard about recent changes to the program during a Thursday session titled "Show Me the Money: Understanding the Grants Process." The Honorable W. Ross Ashley III, FEMA Grant Programs Directorate, DHS, pointed out that partnership is not only the key theme for this conference but also for his directorate.
CHICAGO - Michael Byrne, former member of the New York City Fire Department, started out the discussion about how technology can save money with a bold statement: "Web 2.0 is biggest shift in how we communicate since the introduction of the telegraph." At an afternoon break-out session at the National Conference on Emergency Communications, he backed up this statement by explaining that social networking capabilities have replaced traditional one-way communications with dialogue. "It's a dialogue that's taking place that makes it faster to get input from the constituents then ever before," he stated.
CHICAGO - The first National Conference on Emergency Communications opened today with the goal of creating a national forum for emergency responders. In addition, the conference has been designed to clarify roles and initiatives the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) and its partner programs are leading.
CHICAGO - Both federal and local emergency response leaders opened the first formal session of the National Conference on Emergency Communications by inviting attendees to share openly their success stories as well as the challenges they face. More than 450 representatives from emergency response organizations are attending the conference, including personnel from the military as well as large and small U.S. communities and Guam, Hawaii, the United Kingdom and Canada.