OMB wants desktop standard written into contracts

The Office of Management and Budget and the Defense Department are taking similar but separate paths to ensure all agencies use a standard Microsoft Windows desktop configuration.

Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for information technology and e-government, has recommended to Paul Denett, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, that the Federal Acquisition Regulations Council add a clause to FAR — or that OFPP send out a memo to all chief acquisition officers — requiring IT contracts to include the requirement that all software and hardware do no harm to the standard configuration.

The Air Force, meanwhile, has submitted a three-part clause to the DOD chief information officer for inclusion in every IT contract, said Ken Heitkamp, associate director for life cycle management and director of the Air Force’s IT Commodity Council.

Eventually, Heitkamp said, OMB could decide whether to take the DOD rule governmentwide.

Both approaches are similar to what OMB and DOD required for other initiatives. The FAR Council recently finalized clauses to address the government’s move to IP Version 6 and for the implementation of Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12.

“We are working through this with OFPP, the General Services Administration, DOD, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Homeland Security Department on what the language will say,” Evans said today at a breakfast discussion on OMB’s memo requiring standard Windows desktop configuration. “This would address all IT contracts, even commercial products. We will have to think through how we would implement this.”

The discussion was sponsored by the Sans Institute and Government Executive magazine.

Evans said companies may have to certify that their software will operate in the standard environment, whether it is "shrink-wrapped" or not.

OMB has set a June 30 deadline for agencies to include provisions in contracts addressing the standard configuration. Evans said it would make sense to decide what path OFPP would take before that deadline.

With HSPD-12, for instance, OFPP took both paths. GSA sent out a memo to chief acquisition officers first, and a FAR rule followed a year later.

Heitkamp said CIOs from the military services and officials from the Joint Task Force for Global Network Operations will decide on the procurement language this month.

“We already give hardware vendors our desktop image, so they are bidding PCs with our image already factored in,” Heitkamp said.

The longer-term goal for the Air Force is to have real-time standard configuration management. Heitkamp said right now Air Force software ensures that a laptop or PC connected to the network has the standard configuration every 90 minutes. The service hopes to have real-time enforcement running by 2008, he said.

"We are fairly good now, but we will be much better next year,” Heitkamp said. “Moving to a standard desktop is about governance and policy, not technology. Our vision is real-time desktop management.”

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