New BPAs to aid in cyberdefense

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Contracts that will provide continuous monitoring capabilities for federal agencies mark an "important milestone" in combating cyberattacks against the .gov domain, according to the General Services Administration.

GSA is the Department of Homeland Security's partner in offering Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation and Continuous Monitoring as a Service (CMaaS) under newly unveiled blanket purchase agreements. Agency officials wrote on the new CDM webpage that the BPAs used multiple award IT Schedule 70 pricing as a benchmark to establish the initial discounts in the contracts.

The contracts also offer tiered discounts based on cumulative quantities, according to the GSA's client support center website. "A Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI)-like reporting mechanism was built into the BPAs, with quarterly reporting of sales, to track usage and to ensure volume discounts are achieved by all users of the BPAs over the life of the Program," agency officials wrote.

 GSA will oversee procurement, operation and maintenance of the electronic diagnostic sensors that federal agencies will deploy in their network to detect cyber intrusions, as well as the electronic dashboards that accumulate and analyze that data. GSA will manage the BPAs through its Federal Acquisition Service, Assisted Acquisition Services and Federal Systems Integration and Management Center (FEDSIM). GSA officials will also help federal agency customers order against the contracts.

Customers can order directly from the BPAs if they get a authority from the GSA/FAS/AAS/FEDSIM Contracting Officer, according to GSA.

According to a statement on the DHS by Deputy Undersecretary Suzanne Spaulding, the capabilities offered under the contracts will complement DHS's Einstein 3 automated intrusion detection system. DHS is charged with selecting vendors and coordinating CDM and CMaaS for civilian federal agencies.

Einstein 3 went live the week of July 22. The Einstein program was launched in 2004, with Einstein 2 following in 2008. Einstein 2 is deployed at roughly 70 government agencies, and is expected to be fielded at 70 percent of executive branch agencies by the end of fiscal 2013, according to FCW sister publication GCN.

"When both programs are implemented, they will provide complementary protections across the .gov domain, further protecting the government's infrastructure and the nation's data," said Spaulding.

Under the CDM program, Spaulding said, intrusion data will feed into agency-level dashboards that produce customized reports that alert information technology managers to the most critical cyber risks, enabling them to readily identify which network security issues to address first, thus enhancing the overall security posture of agency networks.

Summary information from participating agencies will feed into a central federal-level dashboard, she said, adding that that information will be managed by DHS's National Cybersecurity Communication and Integration Center, to inform and prioritize cyber risk assessments across the government. It will also support common operational pictures that that include cybersecurity situational awareness to agency stakeholders, she said.

The intrusion data collection dashboards, however, are still under development, a DHS spokesman told FCW. Separate contracts for one or more dashboard vendors are still being developed by DHS, he said.

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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