GSA task order coming on ACES pilot

To move agencies toward using a new governmentwide information security

contract, the General Services Administration is close to awarding a task

order that will provide pilot digital certificates to agencies at a lower

cost than under the main contract.

Although many agencies are looking to the GSA Access Certificates for Electronic

Services (ACES) contract for digital certificate products and services,

the technology and the contract are still new enough that "there are a lot

of agencies in a hurry to be second," said John Sindelar, chief of staff

at GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy. Sindelar, who also is chairman

of the ACES Customer Advisory Board, spoke at the GSA ACES forum Wednesday.

The ACES board developed the Certificate Bank task order, which should be

awarded by the end of next week, as a way to provide 500,000 one-year ACES

certificates with only a small fee and without any issuing cost to the agencies.

The ACES contract helps agencies put in place a public-key infrastructure

that will allow them to issue certificates to citizens for identity authentication

and data encryption that can be used at any agency participating in the

program. But many agencies are concerned about putting forward money for

something they cannot prove will work for their applications, and that is

where the Certificate Bank will provide a safety net, Sindelar said.

Agencies are now submitting proposals for how they will use the pilot certificates,

and the board is developing criteria for evaluating those proposals, Sindelar

said.

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