Intercepts

The antennae of the Interceptor are folded again this week while he's overseas. The FCW staff who remain stateside, however, have set up dishes to intercept the latest talk at DOD and civilian agencies.

SEEING STARS. Our Northern Virginia antenna has picked up signals that Keane Federal Systems Inc. has filed a protest with the General Accounting Office over the $1.2 billion Service Technology Alliance Resources (STARS) program— the systems maintenance and development contract that the Immigration and Naturalization Service awarded this summer. Documents we intercepted revealed that the folks at Keane believed their proposal "offered better value as measured by the evaluation criteria of the solicitation than the proposals selected." INS awarded the pact to Science Applications International Corp., Electronic Data Systems Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Computer Sciences Corp.Keane specifically has protested the awarding of the STARS lot that went to EDS, Lockheed and CSC. Keane's protest does not include the award to SAIC, which was the sole winner of a special overseer/manager lot.

Work under STARS was scheduled to begin next month. But now the new STARS contract has stopped until the protest is resolved. Ronald Collison, INS' associate commissioner for information resources management, told the Interceptor team that the biggest concern with having STARS on hold is labor. The concern, Collison said, is that INS will have to rely on other vehicles with other vendors while STARS sits in limbo, and those vendors— in expectation of a trouble-free STARS award— may have already made plans to move their workers to contracts at other agencies.

LOTS O' COTS. Our data mining operations uncovered a "sources-sought" request from the Defense Information Systems Agency for commercial off-the-shelf, medium-grade messaging products.

Strangely enough it was buried in the Communication, Detection and Coherent Radiation Equipment category of the Commerce Business Daily World Wide Web site. Sources tell us this is an indication that COTS Internet messaging will be considered for DOD-wide use. Apparently, the original vision for the Defense Message System has been modified and the target audience no longer includes those who need to do ordinary, day-to-day messaging. That's a far cry from the original 2 million users we heard about when DMS was first proposed.

DING-DONG! Our European monitoring site has picked up strong signals that Intel Corp. and 12 other U.S.-based, high-tech firms have thrown their weight behind a "private doorbell" system as an alternative to the controversial key-recovery scheme.

In addition, the same site picked up signals that the National Security Agency approached Intel with a request to embed backdoor processes in Intel chips but was rebuffed by the giant chip maker. Sources told FCW that, as a compromise, Intel is not opposed to making its own back-door processes available to the FBI for law enforcement purposes.

HOOVER MOVER. Seems the folks at Federal Sources Inc.— the IT market analysis/consulting firm in McLean, Va.— are really putting a lot of focus on the consulting part of their mission. Word on the street is that William Hoover, former president of PRC Inc. and former executive vice president of BDM International Inc., will move to FSI as— you guessed it— a consultant.

SO FAA, SO BAD. The General Accounting Office is reportedly preparing a status report due out in late fall on some major Federal Aviation Administration programs— namely the Wide Area Augmentation System and the other federal STARS contract, called the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System.

It reportedly will cost the FAA millions of dollars more in facilities and equipment costs to roll out STARS, which has been delayed due mainly to software changes requested by air traffic controllers. The GAO report hopefully will shed some light on the issue.

PAPER BACK. Our temporary antenna in the new but unfinished Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center picked up this piece of advice for small businesses that want to work with the Treasury Department: Go paperless.

At the department's annual small-business conference (which was merged this year with its IT conference), Daniel Sturdivant, with Treasury's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, told prospective contractors that they should use the Web to keep in touch. As an example, he said Treasury no longer accepts paper contractor registration forms, known to those in the know as the SF 129. "If you send us a 129, we send it back,'' he said. The form is on Treasury's Web site at www.osdbu.treas.gov.

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