The Circuit

Homeland Shuffle

Many people will be on the move next year as the new Homeland Security Department takes shape, but folks in the Computer Security Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology are staying put. Officials, however, are not entirely thrilled at that fact.

The White House tapped the division to go to the new department, but Congress overruled those plans. The division will still work closely with the information security and infrastructure protection organizations that are moving into the department, but employees were looking forward to being a direct part of the homeland security effort.

Officials inside and outside the division are concerned that this move will cut the division off from potential funding that could have significantly helped with its increasing workload as Congress begins to realize the importance of information security standards and guidelines.

IT by the Numbers

Sometimes sales figures can be tricky. For instance, information technology still represents most of the spending on the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Service schedule contracts, and revenues are rising by 20 percent to 25 percent each year. However, the percentage of total spending represented by IT actually dropped last year, mostly because other schedules — such as the Professional Engineering Services schedule — are beginning to pick up, said Patricia Mead, deputy assistant commissioner of FSS' Office of Acquisition, at a Dec. 3 conference sponsored by the Computing Technology Industry Association.

This movement toward professional services mirrors the shift on the IT schedule from primarily product sales to primarily services.

No Purchasing Guarantee

The E-Government Act threw the FSS IT schedule open to state and local agencies with the intention of making it easier for those agencies to purchase technology and also potentially to help ensure they are purchasing technology that will be interoperable with federal systems.

However, the inclusion of the cooperative purchasing provision is no guarantee that the schedule will be used, officials admit. Many state and local acquisition laws will have to be modified, and federal small business regulations could be a deterrent, because many states have their own small business preferences, said Melissa Wojciak, staff director for Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), author of the cooperative purchasing provision.

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