Smart Access

The Defense Department is moving ahead with plans to create a central system for controlling access to DOD facilities by both defense and contractor personnel.

A pilot project, to begin in August, will involve adding "smart" features to contractors' building passes, facility access cards and the Common Access Card, in the case of DOD users. The project's goal is to link personnel databases used by different organizations to track access rights.

Additions include biometric technology and database "pointers," which will direct a building's security system to the right database to find security credentials, whether granted by the department or a vendor.

"Basically, a person can visit any camp, post or station in the world and will be authenticated across DOD," said Rob Brandewie, deputy director of the Defense Manpower Data Center, which manages DOD's identity databases.

Speaking at last week's E-Gov 2003 conference in Washington, D.C., Mary Dixon, program manager for DOD's access card office, said her hope is to eventually implement a governmentwide system.

"We must find a way to trust each other's credentials — or at least find out if we should trust each other's credentials," Dixon said.

Coming Soon: $1B Air Force RFP

The Air Force Pentagon Communications Agency (AFPCA) this week is expected to release a $1 billion request for proposals for a range of classified and unclassified information technology services for DOD users in the National Capital Region.

The customer base for a 10-year, fixed-price outsourcing award is 7,500 users at Air Force headquarters, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Military Command Center and the leadership offices of other agencies interfacing with DOD.

Most of the offices supported are in the Pentagon, but others are scattered throughout the Washington, D.C., area.

The draft RFP was released last month, with the formal solicitation expected in mid-June, according to a contract specialist working on the program.

AFPCA also announced it will sponsor site visits to its offices June 19-20 for prospective bidders, followed by a meeting with agency directors the week of June 23. The site visit will be at the secret level and is only for teams intending to submit proposals.

Crowded House

As DOD and the federal government continue to streamline operations through integration and staff reductions, one Army leader is worried about a different problem: the growing size of his office.

Kevin Carroll, the Army's program executive officer for enterprise information systems (PEO-EIS), said although his office is responsible for everything from upgrading the service's tactical communications in southwest Asia to leading the Army's biometrics efforts, the size of his staff — now 650 people and still growing — is "a worry for sure."

"I'm worried we're going to lose track or let something drop," Carroll said following a speech at the Army Small Computer Program's IT conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. However, he was quick to add that PEO-EIS is organized in selected functional areas and that program managers are encouraged to execute orders without being hindered by top-level bureaucracy.

Carroll said he encourages an "entrepreneurial feeling" within the program so program managers and their deputies can work together with minimal oversight. "All in all, it's not bad."

Teamwork Pays

The Global Positioning System was the key emerging technology that soldiers relied on 12 years ago during Operation Desert Storm. The soldiers went as far as having their loved ones buy the devices at U.S. stores and mail them to the Middle East.

So what was Operation Iraqi Freedom's technological equivalent? "Collaboration tools were the GPS of this particular effort," David Borland, Army deputy chief information officer, said earlier this month at the ASCP conference. Borland said online collaboration tools improved teamwork across the different services and between U.S. and other forces. The impact was seen in just about every aspect of operations, including logistics and command and control, he said.

Borland added that the challenge now is ensuring that the Army and DOD buy the best tools for future conflicts.

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