Fedwire

AF awards sim training pacts

The Air Force last week awarded contracts to five vendors under a $486 million program that will serve as the primary vehicle for training and simulation systems for the Air Force and other Defense organizations.

Under the Training Systems Acquisition program, the Air Force's Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, awarded contracts to Lockheed Martin Corp., McDonnell Douglas Corp., Raytheon Training Inc., Camber Corp. and INTELX Corp.

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ITSP BPAs set for fiscal 1999

The Air Force after Oct. 1 plans to award blanket purchase agreements worth a total of $750 million for information technology support services.

The BPAs will be awarded under the Information Technology Services Program, which originally was planned for launch late last year but was delayed by the Air Force's six-month moratorium on new BPAs.

ITSP will support Electronic Systems Center users at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., and four other bases.

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Fed encryption code cracked

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an information technology-

focused civil liberties organization, last week announced that it has built the first unclassified hardware for cracking messages encrypted with the government's Data Encryption Standard.

While a search has begun for a stronger encryption technology, DES remains the national encryption standard that has been very popular in all but the most secret government agencies and is offered in the products of most federal contractors.

The machine, called the EFF DES Cracker, was built for less than $250,000 and was able to break the DES code in three days. The previous record for breaking the DES code was 39 days, set by a massive network of tens of thousands of computers.

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Census to delay IT purchase

Because of restrictions included in a House bill approved last week, the Census Bureau expects to delay its purchase of one of the technology systems to be used during the decennial census in 2000.

The House Appropriations Committee approved $956 million in fiscal 1999 for the decennial census, which represents an increase of $107 million over the president's request. However, bill language prevents Census from receiving funds for the 2000 census after March 31, 1999, without approval from the president and Congress.

According to Commerce Department Secretary William Daley, the restriction on funding will force the bureau to delay purchase of the data-capture systems that will convert information from returned census forms into a computer-readable format.

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Rep. scolds SBA plans

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Programs and Oversight of the House Small Business Committee, said last week that the Small Business Administration's plans for a computer system to monitor the $45 billion in small-business loans are incomplete and unacceptable.

As required by the Small Business Reauthorization Act of 1997, SBA submitted a report to Congress June 2 that detailed its progress in carrying out a specific eight-step action plan to develop the $20 million Automated Loan Monitoring System to monitor loans made by lenders to small businesses under the 7(a) program. "It had been hoped that the SBA would have completed the mandated planning...by June 2, 1998, the date the statutes required SBA to report its progress to Congress," Bartlett said.

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MCI exec joins Fed Sources

Tina Bohse, national marketing manager with MCI local services, will join Federal Sources Inc. as a member of the telecommunications consulting practice that John Okay is building.

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Senate criticizes E-Rate

A Senate committee last week called for the Federal Communications Commission to better police applications by public schools under the billion-dollar Education Rate, or E-Rate, program, which is designed to subsidize Internet connections for schools.

The Commerce Science and Transportation Committee also recommended the School and Libraries Corp., which administers E-Rate, to create rigorous internal control policies to prevent abuse by schools, such as requests for subsidies of video cameras and TVs.

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