DHS contract looks to bolster civilian cyber defense

concept cybersecurity art

More than a dozen companies will provide continuous monitoring and diagnostics capabilities for the Homeland Security Department's recently announced blanket purchase agreement designed to bolster civilian agency cyber defenses.

DHS made the awards under a continuous-monitoring-as-a-service (CMaaS) BPA that could be worth up to $6 billion for the 17 companies that will provide hardware and software under the contract.

The agency declined comment on the announcement.

The contract shows DHS is committed to stepping up cybersecurity capabilities for civilian agencies, moving beyond Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) requirements, said those familiar with the effort.

"FISMA was a start," said Kenneth Kartsen, vice president and head of federal business at McAfee, one of the vendors whose products will be incorporated into CMaaS offerings to DHS. FISMA gave the federal government a security posture that required security reporting, but didn't specify real-time capabilities, he said. The more immediate proficiencies offered through the new BPA have become increasingly important as cyberattacks and intrusions have ramped up in scale and ambition.

DHS's CMaaS looks to put a common set of technical tools in place that incorporate national and industry standards that can help federal agencies detect network anomalies in real-time, speeding their ability respond to problems.

"The cyber landscape in which federal agencies operate is a constantly changing and dynamic environment and threats to the nation's information security continue to evolve," said Booz Allen Executive Vice President Chris Kelly.

Booz Allen is one of the 17 companies tapped by the BPA.

 "This is a good thing for cybersecurity," said Pamela Walker, senior director for homeland security at the trade group TechAmerica. Walker said the DHS CMaaS contracts show the department is advancing cybersecurity at federal civilian agencies. "OMB has been pushing federal agencies to use CMaaS" for cost efficiencies as well as cybersecurity, she noted.

GSA will run the contract, but said the BPAs were established on behalf of the DHS Office of Cybersecurity and Communications Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation Program. The CDM Program, according to GSA, helps transform the way federal and other government entities manage cyber networks through strategically sourced tools and services. The CDM Program, it said, brings an enterprise approach to continuous diagnostics, and allows consistent application of best practices.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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