GSA deal jump-starts information security

The General Services Administration last week awarded a task order for 500,000

digital certificates that will be given free to agencies in order to jump-start

the use of a GSA governmentwide information security contract.

The GSA Access Certificates for Electronic Services (ACES) contract

provides the technology and services for agencies to develop a public-key

infrastructure and enable their applications to work with that infrastructure.

The creation of a PKI allows agencies to use the digital certificates to

provide security and authentication for employees and citizens performing

transactions over the Internet.

Although agencies have recognized the need for security measures such

as PKI, the implementation of the technology is complicated and costly.

To help agencies with the expensive task of buying and issuing certificates,

GSA is paying for the 500,000 certificates and will be awarding them to

agencies that propose viable applications.

The task order calls for Digital Signature Trust Co. to issue up to

400,000 certificates and for ATT Corp. to issue the other 100,000. The certificates

will be good for one year, and the agencies will only have to pay the per-transaction

fee.

"We believe that offering these certificates free of issuance costs

is a great opportunity to prime the ACES pump," said Mary Wagner, associate

administrator of GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy. "We are confident

that federal agencies will quickly see the benefits of providing businesses

and the public with a safe and secure way to interact with the government

over the Internet."

The ACES Customer Advisory Board, led by chairman and OGP chief of staff

John Sindelar, will be evaluating agencies' proposals for using the certificates.

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