House passes copyright law

The House of Representatives last week passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a bill that, although designed to protect digital copyright, makes illegal the network security testing often used by federal agencies to gauge how safe their networks are from hacker attacks or other unauthorized users.

The legislation protects the copyright of software products. But representatives of computer security firms and computer science academics opposed the bill, saying it would cripple their computer security business and research efforts.

The bill would prohibit reverse engineering, a method security experts use to identify problems and to build patches for the holes. These same experts say the bill would prohibit authorized "white hat" attempts to test network security already in place in agencies and companies.

The bill already has been passed by the Senate.


Pacts awarded for Defense services

The Defense Department last week revived a defunct multimillion-dollar 8(a) set-aside program to provide hardware support services at Defense megacenters with the award of multiple contracts to three vendors.

Under the On-Site Preventative & Remedial Hardware Maintenance program, CHE Consulting Inc., Computer & Hi-Tech Management Inc. and Communications Technology Inc. will provide hardware support services to 14 Defense megacenters and the Defense Continuity of Operations and Test Facility, Slidell, La.


Past-performance guidance drafted

The Defense Department recently issued a draft document designed to provide the acquisition work force with guidance on using contractor past-performance data.

The document, "A Guide to Collection and Use of Past Performance Information," explains the best practices to use during source selection and is designed to give acquisition professionals a practical reference tool on past-performance policy, said Stan Soloway, deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition reform.

The guide is a joint effort of the DOD Past Performance Integrated Product Team, which was created in 1997 to streamline the collection and use of past-performance data, and the Federal Acquisition Regulation 15 Rewrite Team.

Also included in the guide is a top 10 list of overarching guidelines for past-performance policy and appendices that outline the department's automated past-performance information systems. The document is available on DOD's acquisition reform home page at www.acq.osd.mil/ar.


Telecom director named

Tom Wiesner is the new director of corporate systems management with the Treasury Department, in charge of department-wide telecommunications and network services. He previously was assistant chief of network operations for the Secret Service.

Wiesner replaces Brian Carman, who has been acting director since November. Carman has taken a job at the Department of Health and Human Services as the information resources management director for the Office of the Inspector General.


HR integration pact awarded

The Treasury Department late last month awarded PricewaterhouseCoopers a blanket purchase agreement to develop an integrated human resources system. Treasury plans to invest $150 million over five years to build the system, but it did not set a value on the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity buy.

Janet Vogel, product development manager with the Treasury HR Systems Program Office, said the contract would be used initially to develop requirements and build a prototype. Treasury plans to provide standard human resources applications to its 14 bureaus for use by both HR managers and employees.


WITS2001 RFP ready

The General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service was expected to release late last week the request for proposals for the Washington Inter-agency Telecommunications System 2001.

WITS2001 will provide local voice and data services to all federal agencies and other authorized users in the Washington, D.C., area. FTS plans to have the new system in place by January 1999, when the current WITS contract expires.


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