Commerce to fund IT security

A senior Commerce Department official said funding will be poured into information technology security this year, emphasizing that contractors they work with will begin to provide background checks for their employees.

Michael Sade, director for acquisition management and procurement executive, said the real impact of IT security isn't going to be on the technology side, but on the personnel side -- such as ensuring vendors have security clearances. Other security considerations would mean looking at overseas companies that provide help desk services and where they're located, he said at a Federal Sources Inc. executive breakfast today.

Federal agencies have been increasingly demanding security clearances for contractor employees, especially since the 2001 terrorist attacks. Commerce officials plan to implement such requirements soon, said Sade, who pointed to reports by the department's Office of Inspector General that cite where improvements can be made.

"Those are where are vulnerabilities are," he said. "Those are where we're going to be making our investments."

Sade generally spoke about how Commerce officials will better partner on projects with vendors and other government agencies through dialogue. Department officials will make better business cases for such projects using more performance-based contracts, he said.

Significant projects underway include modernization of the Patent and Trademark Office and National Weather Service. Commerce has begun making significant IT investment in preparation for the 2010 Census -- possibly including the capability of doing surveys through the Web, Sade said.

Another growing trend will entail better review of satellite programs in which the department funds projects that are overseen by other departments and agencies. For example, the department has a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Navy for several Commerce-funded programs, which Navy officials oversee, he said.

Sade said the department will now review whether it's picking the right government partner to manage Commerce funds and review the other department's management process.

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