GSA awards BPAs for credit monitoring

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4 p.m. Aug. 31, 2006, to add more information. Please visit Corrections & Clarifications to see what changed.

Three firms received blanket purchase agreements Aug. 14 to give agencies credit-monitoring services following several thefts or losses of federal employees’ laptop computers containing personal information.

The General Services Administration awarded the BPAs to Equifax, Experian Consumer Direct and Bearak Reports, a small, woman-owned firm, according to the agency.

The companies will provide agencies with a fast and effective solution for commercial credit-monitoring services, GSA said.

Recent incidents of misplaced federal computers have threatened the confidentiality of millions of people’s personal information in government records. A firestorm on Capitol Hill has ensued as department leaders have had to testify before policy-makers on how to prevent such losses.

In May, the personal information of as many as 26.5 million veterans, including their names, Social Security numbers, disability ratings and birth dates, was stolen from the home of a Department of Veterans Affairs employee, who took the laptop containing the information home without authorization, according to VA officials. The FBI later recovered the missing laptop computer and hard drive.

When the VA incident occurred, Equifax talked with the department about the value of credit-monitoring services in the event of a security breach, said David Rubinger, the company’s vice president of communications.

As more organizations face data breaches, the BPA is a chance to give the federal government a way to react quickly, he said.

“Credit monitoring is beneficial to all consumers and plays an even bigger role in helping protect those who have had their personal and/or financial information compromised,” said Ty Taylor, president of Experian Consumer Direct.

Many companies faced with breaches have turned to services that monitor all three national credit reports, which also include identity theft insurance and fraud resolution services, he said.

GSA said the BPAs will bring reduced pricing and volume discounts through bulk-buying. Agencies can also select different levels of credit-monitoring services depending on the degree of vulnerability, risk and protection, according to GSA.

The BPAs also eliminate separate contracting and open-market costs that result from separate agencies searching for sources, developing technical documents and solicitations, and evaluating offers, GSA said.

The BPAs do not obligate funds, and they do not have a limit on the dollar value of task-order purchases, according to GSA.

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