NSA to award contracts for secure mobile devices by month's end

The National Security Agency is expected to award indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts to General Dynamics and L-3 Communications this month for the delivery of mobile, handheld devices intended for unclassified and classified voice and data traffic, an agency spokeswoman said.

Agency officials awarded contracts to General Dynamics C4 Systems and L-3 Communications to develop the devices under NSA’s Secure Mobile Environment Portable Electronic Device (SME PED) program in 2005.

NSA officials have yet to issue the requisite security certifications for both companies’ products before making them available to customers in the Defense Department and elsewhere in the government.

Agency spokeswoman Andrea Martino declined to say when the devices might be certified, saying the schedule for the process is fluid.

General Dynamics officials said June 8 they will ship their product to NSA for certification in August, but start production after the contract award later this month.

Questions remain about the status of L-3’s device. Company officials are tight-lipped about their progress, citing a highly competitive environment. Several government sources said the company’s device might not achieve NSA certification until after the fall.

Martino said unit prices for the SME PEDs are still being negotiated. As for monthly wireless costs, “the vendors are having discussions with carriers to create a ‘one-stop-shop’ for the SME PED under the [General Services Administration’s] Networx contract,” she said.

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