Set-Asides

Group to fight Clinton policy

A group of technology companies and privacy advocates will announce this week the formation of a coalition that plans to launch a media and advertising campaign to fight the Clinton administration's encryption policy.

Americans for Computer Privacy plans to run a media campaign to discredit a plan backed by the White House and law enforcement agencies that relies on key-recovery technology, which would allow law enforcement agencies access to the "keys" needed to unscramble encrypted data.

The administration is trying to leverage the buying power of the federal government to create a market for key-recovery technology.

A bill that Congress will soon consider requires federally funded computers to store encryption keys with a government-approved entity, allowing law enforcement agencies to decrypt data without a user's knowledge.

The coalition, which has hired a former counsel to Clinton as its legal adviser as well as numerous high-profile media and lobbying groups, plans to launch its campaign at the end of this congressional session.

OMB tasks CIOs on GILS

The Office of Management and Budget last month asked the CIO Council to help agencies improve their Government Information Locator Service (GILS) systems.

According to a Feb. 6 memo from OMB director Franklin Raines, the CIOs will focus on training agencies in "best practices'' for maintaining these online catalogs of federal information and will develop new guidelines, search standards and tools for using the catalogs.

OMB Bulletin 95-01, which told agencies how to build and manage their GILS systems, expired last fall, and OMB did not issue a replacement. Agency compliance with the policy has been spotty, and critics want OMB to do more to enforce it.

SBA replaces PASS

The Small Business Administration has pulled the plug on its Procurement Automated Source System, replacing it officially with the Internet-based Procurement Marketing and Access Network (Pro-Net). PASS was SBA's first public database of small-business contractors, but it was available only in limited locations.

Like PASS, Pro-Net is designed to help small businesses find procurement op-portunities. The system is accessible via the Internet

(pro-net.sba.gov) and allows vendors to update information about themselves online. Pro-Net contains data about 171,000 firms; SBA plans to expand it.

IT projects still risky

Four IT efforts identified as high-risk programs by the General Accounting Office last year are still in trouble, according to a GAO report released last month.

As a result, the Internal Revenue Service's Tax Systems Modernization, the Federal Aviation Administration's Air Traffic Control modernization, the Defense Department's Corporate Information Management initiative and the National Weather Service's modernization program remain on GAO's high-risk list. GAO also criticized other programs, including the Department of Health and Human Services' Medicare Transaction System and the Interior Department's Automated Land and Mineral Record System modernization.`

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