Convergence is more than buzz

GSA seeks to revamp schedules to reflect merging of physical and computer security

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General Services Administration officials say they are looking for ways to support security convergence through the agency’s existing contract schedules.

Rob Rhode, marketing director at USIS, a security vendor, sat down with several GSA officials in a private room off the floor of a security industry trade show in March in Las Vegas. Rhode told them agencies were starting to combine their security operations into a single, cohesive infrastructure, and they needed help with what he called security convergence.

Until the meeting with Rhode, security convergence had been only a buzzword to GSA officials, said Kellie Stoker, director of GSA’s law enforcement and security schedule at the agency’s Greater Southwest Acquisition Center. After the meeting, Stoker said, she recognized an opportunity for GSA to capitalize on security convergence.
By integrating digital security cameras, data networks and other information technology platforms, experts say, security convergence can minimize vulnerabilities.

In July, GSA entered the security convergence market. “That’s when we really started to think about it in terms of the schedules,” Stoker said. That month, GSA released a request for information about different approaches for intermingling security operations. By early September, GSA had received six responses. Officials plan to analyze those responses and shape their next steps.

GSA officials said they were working on ways to link the pieces of agencies’ security infrastructure that are on different schedule contracts.

“We’re finally recognizing that agencies need help,” Stoker said. GSA wants to meet the growing market demand for security convergence with flexible solutions, she said.

GSA officials said they did not plan to set up a new schedule contract immediately, and a blanket purchase agreement might be one way to enter the market. The simplest and quickest solution, however, could be to group various contracts “to give the customer one interface with multiple vendors providing products and services,” Stoker said.

Historically, physical and IT security components were bought and sold separately, but today, they are closely linked. Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 requires agencies to issue Personal Identification Verification cards to employees and contractors to control their access to federal buildings and information systems.

If agencies don’t recognize it now, they will soon begin to see security convergence as a necessity, security experts say.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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