USDA seeks encryption software for mobile devices

The Agriculture Department plans to establish blanket purchase agreements for automated encryption software for use with laptop computers and other mobile devices, potentially adding up to 150,000 licenses.

The procurement will be limited to businesses owned by service-disabled veterans that have a General Services Administration schedule contract, according to a sources sought notice published Nov. 17 on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site.

USDA has five products in mind, the notice states: Entrust, WinMagic, Utimaco, Guardian Edge with Trust Digital and Credant. The department plans to install the software on laptop computers, USB storage devices, personal digital assistants and similar mobile devices that store sensitive information.

The department will be looking for the lowest quotes available, but the software must do more than simply encrypt data, the notice states.

For example, it must work with Microsoft's Active Directory software, support automated deployment and include tools that enable authorized individuals, other than the end users, to decrypt data on the devices. Vendors will be asked to provide training and support services, but the agency is looking for software that requires little training of end users, according to the notice.

USDA has employees spread out at 14,000 locations across the country. "Combined, there are several hundred thousand mobile IT assets operating in all these locations," the notice states.

Some software may be managed centrally and deployed departmentwide, while other products may be bought for use within individual agencies. As part of their quotes, vendors are asked to describe how well the software scales across these different environments.

USDA officials hope to have blanket purchase agreements in place by the beginning of 2007.

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