Federal officials push for greater info protection

A Barack Obama administration proposed rule lays out for contractors the basic factors in safeguarding information systems that contain unclassified government data.

The administration’s proposal would require a contract clause that would oblige the contractor to provide protective measures to information provided by or generated for the government. A system includes a public computer or website, or a system that transmits electronic information, as well as voice and fax data.

As a result, the rule would not allow companies to process government information on public computers. Instead, they have to opt for the best technology and processes with the greatest security to transmit information. The rule requires one physical lock and one electronic barrier to information as well as a cleansing of a media device's information before the device is released externally or disposed of.

The rule was published in the Federal Register on Aug. 24. The proposal would amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

This proposed rule applies to all federal contractors and appropriate subcontractors regardless of size or business ownership.

Officials say the cost will not be significant, since the first-level protective measures, such as updated virus protection, are typically part of the routine course of doing business.

Regulators also recognize that without the rule, the government would suffer reduced system performance and potential loss of valuable information.

“The cost of not using basic information technology system protection measures would be a significant detriment to contractor and government business,” according to the proposal.

Officials are accepting comments on the proposal through Oct. 23.

About the Author

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

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