Policy briefs

Anti-terror bills progress; Air Force consolidates IT

Anti-terror bills progress

Congress is moving forward to put money and muscle behind programs to fight terrorism at home and abroad.

The House passed a bill May 24 to provide $29 billion to fight terrorism. Billions would be showered on information technology projects to tighten security systems and fund tools such as devices that detect explosives at airports.

The House approved several other anti-terrorism measures, which still await Senate action, including:

* A bioterrorism package that would give authorities more clout in preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.

* $9.1 billion for the Customs Service to buy and deploy detection equipment along the Canadian and Mexican borders.

n $100 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs to develop four research centers, with at least one focused on biological terrorism, one on chemical threats and one on radiological threats.

Air Force consolidates IT

The Air Force is one-third of the way through the process of consolidating its IT resources in the hopes of building a greater enterprise infrastructure, John Gilligan, Air Force chief information officer, said May 29.

The goal is to have the process completed by fiscal 2004, although bases have had trouble finding the money to buy larger servers. Gilligan said the Air Force was considering a proposal that would accelerate that schedule.

The goal is to improve reliability, enhance security and reduce cost, Gilligan said. "We don't have the outages that we used to have," he said. The consolidation includes servers for e-mail, Web access, data and files. It is also an effort to bring together functions, such as financial and personnel data.

GSA preps security solutions

The General Services Administration is readying new solutions for government security.

GSA's Federal Computer Incident Response Center (FedCIRC) patch authentication and dissemination capability will be ready for some agencies to use June 20, said Sallie McDonald, GSA's assistant commissioner for information assurance and critical infrastructure protection.

In July, FedCIRC officials expect to release a request for proposals on a security knowledge management portal, McDonald said May 22 at a New York City conference. FedCIRC also is looking at creating a security toolkit, giving agencies central access to all of the security tools developed and already paid for by governmental and quasi-governmental organizations. In addition, the center plans to issue a request for proposals this summer for a contractor to identify the tools, assemble them into a suite of services and market them to agencies, she said.

Official: 'We're bandwidth hogs'

The Army could always use more bandwidth, but the service does have enough to accomplish its missions if it's willing to revamp its business practices and truly take advantage of its resources, according to one technology leader.

Col. Nick Justice, program manager of Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below, within the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications Systems-Tactical, said he could always fill up more bandwidth if it were made available. However, the Army is not using its bandwidth "in efficient, effective processes," he said, speaking May 29 at Army IT Day in McLean, Va.

"We're bandwidth hogs," Justice said. "We want more. It's a [natural] quest for us."

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