Inside the Reporter’s Notebook: DHS cyber contract awards delayed; musical chairs in federal IT ranks

Inside the Reporter’s Notebook,” is a bi-weekly dispatch of news and information you may have missed or that slipped through the cracks at conferences, hearings and the like.

This is not a column nor commentary – it’s news tidbits, strongly sourced buzz and other items of interest that have happened or are happening in the federal IT and acquisition communities.

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Vendors and agencies alike will have to wait a few extra weeks, at least, before they can dig into the $6 billion continuous diagnostic and mitigation tools and continuous-monitoring-as-a-service contracts.

Vendor sources confirm the Homeland Security Department has delayed the awards under the request for proposals. DHS released the solicitation in December looking for 15 tools and help in 11 task areas to help agencies implement continuous monitoring.

An industry source who is following the contract said the delay is because agencies are reluctant to sign a memorandum of understanding with DHS to use the contract.

DHS received about $180 million in the fiscal 2013 appropriations bill to begin implementing continuous monitoring.

“DHS has the money to buy the dashboard, sensors and access to the company to provide the services, but they are having a challenge to get everyone signed up,” said one industry source, who requested anonymity because they are bidding on the contract. “Agencies are little critical about how DHS will behave once they open up their networks for DHS to come in and look. DHS will tell them how to use the tools and services, and which tools to use.”

A DHS spokeswoman said by email when asked about the procurement delay, “Unfortunately, we can’t comment on pending procurements at this time.”

Industry sources say DHS hoped to make the award in late June or early July.

Speaking of continuous monitoring, the White House official overseeing its implementation across government has left.

Earl Crane, the former director of federal cybersecurity in the Cybersecurity Coordinator’s Office, will launch a new cybersecurity practice for the Promontory Financial Group.

Crane will lead the new group to provide cyber consulting services to financial services companies. The firm specializes in solving regulatory, risk, controls, compliance, governance, capital and liquidity issues.

Crane spent the last almost two years overseeing agency progress in meeting the three major initiatives, the Trusted Internet Connection, the implementation of continuous monitoring and the implementation of Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12.

Crane spent eight years working at DHS, including more than six as a federal employee. He served in several roles including the chief information security architect and the director for cybersecurity strategy.

Crane was one of several technology officials to leave government or at least their agency in the last few months.

Peter Johnson, the former chief information officer of the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing, left for another agency. He has been replaced on an interim basis by Harry Singh, according to a BEP spokeswoman. The spokeswoman wouldn’t say what agency Johnson joined.

During his tenure at BEP, Johnson successfully implemented an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to handle the bureau’s core financial and business processes.

Cathy Flickinger, the CIO at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration, retired after more than 40 years at HHS, including the last 13 as HRSA’s CIO. She said goodbye at the end of March.

A HRSA spokesman confirmed Joe Roach is the acting CIO.

Flickinger took advantage of many of the most prominent administration initiatives to improve HRSA’s IT infrastructure during the last few years of her tenure.

The Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) named Terryne Murphy as its new CIO May 20.

She replaces Rick Chandler who left EOIR in November 2012.

Murphy returns to EOIR after spending the last four years at the Census Bureau as its division chief overseeing the financial and administrative management systems.

She worked at the Executive Office for Immigration Review from 2005 to 2009 as its deputy CIO for systems engineering.

And one more note of a personnel change, the Office of Management and Budget finally made it official that Steve VanRoekel is the acting deputy director for management (DDM).

After Jeff Zients left in May, OMB was quick to point out that VanRoekel was just overseeing the management’s efforts and was not serving as the acting DDM. But recently, he assumed the acting role.

Back in February a strong rumors surfaced that VanRoekel was pushing to become the full time DDM. When asked about the rumor, he laughed it off, saying at the time, it was news to him.

Interesting how circumstances change so quickly … could a nomination be in the offing?

A couple of interesting items from Capitol Hill came up this week.

First, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) told an industry audience that agencies are sliding back from the Obama administration 25-point IT reform plan.

Connolly, speaking at the Multiple-Award Government and Industry Conference (MAGIC) in Alexandra, Va., was promoting the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), which he co-authored along with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), as a way to get agencies out of reverse gear.

The House passed FITARA as part fiscal 2014 Defense authorization bill in June.

Connolly said Senate support for the bill remains unclear. He said he hopes the upper chamber will include it in their version of the NDAA.

“I expect all of this to unfold in the coming months, by the fall,” he said.

And speaking of the Senate, Sen. John Tester (D-Mont.) was one of four lawmakers to sponsor what likely will be the first of many bills trying to address weaknesses in the security clearance process in the wake of the Edward Snowden leak of classified information.

Tester, along with Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) co-authored the Security Clearance Oversight and Reform Enhancement (SCORE) Act.

The bill would improve oversight of the security clearance process by calling for the government to fire background check investigators and suspend others — including contractors — who falsify reports. It also would force the government to update its policy determining which positions require a security clearance. The legislation also would let the Office of Personnel Management use its revolving fund to pay for the agency’s inspector general to investigate the background security clearance process.

But that may not be a great idea as OPM IG Patrick McFarland testified in June before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that his office doesn’t have the money to examine and oversee how OPM uses the revolving fund.

The four senators also sent a letter to the GAO asking it to examine the security clearance process and report how various federal agencies can streamline and improve clearance investigations.

Out & About

Several interesting hearings next week starting Monday afternoon where Joseph Jordan, administrator in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, Dan Tangherlini, acting GSA administrator, and Cristina Chaplain, director of Acquisition and Sourcing Management at the Government Accountability Office, will testify about strategic sourcing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation on Wednesday will explore why the Federal Aviation Administration’s NexGen system is facing delays. Michael Huerta, the administrator of the FAA, and Calvin Scovel the Transportation Department’s inspector general, are expected to testify.

Thursday features a GSA Federal Acquisition Service roundtable hosted by AFFIRM, which includes commissioner Tom Sharpe and six other senior FAS officials.

MORE FROM “Inside the Reporter’s Notebook

June 24 — Inside the Reporter’s Notebook: HUD buying into shared services; renewed push to merge DoD’s CIO

June 11 — Inside the Reporter’s Notebook: Some question who’s in charge at GSA with six feds on admin leave

May 28 — Inside the Reporter’s Notebook: Reverse auctions for IT, DHS answers not satisfying, contractor salary cap proposal returns

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