Set-Asides

TAC runs out of time

An advisory group charged with developing a federal standard for key-recovery technology most likely will not issue a standard before its charter expires at the end of this month.

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to Develop a Federal Information Processing Standard for the Federal Key Management Infrastructure for Requirements for Key-Recovery Products encountered "significant technical problems" that prevented the committee from developing a standard, according to a June 19 letter to Commerce Department Secretary William Daley.

Key-recovery technology provides a mechanism for users who have lost a decryption key or the ability to decrypt scrambled data.

But the TAC, which was formed by Commerce and met for the first time in December 1996, noted that the time and effort it had spent on developing a standard were not sufficient to develop an adequate set of technical requirements for a federal standard.

FMS cuts first e-check

The Treasury Department's Financial Management Service last month issued its first electronic check, kicking off a pilot to test paying contractors via the Internet.

On June 30, FMS sent GTE Internetworking, Cambridge, Mass., a so-called e-check for $32,153. The e-check is part of a year-long pilot with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, 50 defense contractors and a consortium of banks and computer companies. Through the e-check program, the government hopes to increase electronic commerce by providing an easy way to make payments, especially to small businesses that consider other forms of digital payments too expensive or time consuming. Recipients will endorse e-checks with digital signatures.

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