Fedwire Briefs

NSA, NIST tools urged

Federal security experts last week urged a House panel to include in a rewrite of the 12-year-old Computer Security Act language that would require agencies to use security solutions provided by the National Security Agency and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Michael Jacobs, deputy director for information systems security at NSA, told the House Technology Subcommittee that almost all of the recent cyberattacks on federal sites have been successful because readily available security tools were not used, usually because the agency did not have the time or the knowledge to research the market. He also said agencies do not have enough trained security personnel to build proper protections for agency systems and World Wide Web sites.

Jacobs told the subcommittee chairwoman, Rep. Connie Morella (R-Md.), that one way to solve the security gaps would be to include in her rewrite of the Computer Security Act language that would require agencies to use the security resources at NIST and NSA.

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Report: Attract IT workers

A CIO Council report released last week argues that the government must do whatever it can to make federal jobs more attractive to potential IT workers, but the group stopped short of recommending a separate government IT pay scale.

The report recommends, among other things, that government leaders should work harder to sell the virtues of government service to IT workers by using more visible marketing campaigns and more vigorous recruiting, including using the Internet. It also acknowledges that low government pay puts agencies at a disadvantage when recruiting and calls for government leaders to increase pay.

The council estimated that entry-level compensation for a programmer is $36,000 in the government vs. $49,000 in the private sector. Some federal IT managers have supported a separate pay scale for IT workers, but the CIO Council report did not recommend that a separate IT pay scale be created. The authors of the study argue that some compensation issues could be addressed by removing many of the regulated grades and step levels and creating broad salary ranges. That would give managers the ability to bring people into government jobs at higher pay, according to the study.

WEB EXTRA: For the complete story, go to www.fcw.com/extra.

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NCR wins USPS pact

The U.S. Postal Service last week awarded NCR Corp. a $67 million contract to build point-of-service computer terminals under Stage Two of the Point-of-Service One contract. NCR will add 3,500 terminals at USPS retail windows between August and April.

The NCR terminals, which include printers, a scanner, a keypad, a scale and other peripherals, show customers information about delivery options on a small monitor so that they can compare prices before they decide how to send a letter or package, said Brian Banik, vice president of NCR Postal Solutions. The Postal Service clerk can view another monitor that can prompt the clerk to suggest other postal services, such as insurance, to a customer.

USPS awarded the POS One contract three years ago to NCR and IBM Corp. Under that award, known as Stage One of POS One, NCR and IBM plan to install 22,172 terminals in 4,283 post offices. The latest award to NCR is the first phase of Stage Two of the program.

WEB EXTRA: For the complete story, go to www.fcw.com/extra.

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Lockheed may sell IS unit

Lockheed Martin Corp. is considering selling off about $1 billion in assets, including its information services and military aircraft electronics business units, according to a Wall Street Journal report published last week.

The company had no comment on the story, but Lockheed spokesman James Fetig said the company announced this month that it would undergo a "comprehensive, top-to-bottom strategic review of the corporation's operational performance, organizational effectiveness and strategic alignment." The review is expected to be completed in September, Fetig said.

"What they have been trying to show Wall Street is that they are not an old federal weapons system dinosaur [but] that they are a new high-technology company," said Warren Suss, president of Warren H. Suss Associates, a telecommunications consulting firm. Lockheed has to consider divesting itself of the federal IT unit because it gives the perception that it is mired in a rather slow-growth marketplace, he added.

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