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Procurement Initiative Secures DoD Computers, Saves Money

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2008 – The Pentagon is among dozens of departments and organizations that have improved security for their laptop computers and saved taxpayers more than $92 million by using a new procurement initiative, a senior Defense Department official said here.

The Defense Department and the General Services Administration are among the many federal agencies that participated in the Data At Rest Tiger Team initiative that resulted in the purchase of about $112 million worth of information security products for interagency users at an actual cost of about $19 million, David Hollis, the team’s program manager for the Pentagon, said.

The DARTT involved 20 defense agencies, 18 other federal or civil agencies, as well as state and local and NATO participation, Hollis said.

Data at rest refers to digital information stored on computers, personal digital assistants and thumb and flash drives.

“The DARTT has been very successful in improving the government’s mobile data security posture while offering deep product and service discounts across the government,” Hollis said.

Publicized accounts of lost government laptops and other computer devices in recent years prompted U.S. agencies to seek ways to better safeguard sensitive information, Hollis said.

The government requested proposals from private industry in December 2006. About six months later, the Defense Department’s Enterprise Software Initiative purchase program, in partnership with the GSA’s SmartBUY program, awarded 12 blanket purchase agreements for various computer-security-related products and services, he said.

For example, the use of encrypted software and other security products with mobile computer devices prevents sensitive information from being accessed by unauthorized users, Hollis said.

The initiative also helps the federal government meet an Office of Management and Budget directive that requires the encryption of all data on mobile computers and associated storage devices that carry sensitive information, Hollis said.

The U.S. government saved $93 million through the program because of its business-pricing and competitive-bidding processes, Hollis said. Pentagon participation in the initiative falls under the purview of Chief Information Officer John G. Grimes, the assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration.

The DARTT program was among three finalists for “Government Information Security Program of the Year” honors for North America, sponsored by the Executive Alliance, a worldwide group that recognizes outstanding business and leadership achievements, according to a recent DoD news release.

Robert Lentz, deputy assistant secretary of defense for information and identity assurance, reinforced DoD’s need to encrypt its mobile information systems to protect against potential intrusions.

“Technology changes constantly,” Lentz said. “We need to make sure we are keeping up with the advances in encryption product technology so as our adversaries improve their attack methods, we are equipped to defend” sensitive unclassified and personal information.

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Biographies:
John G. Grimes
DoD Networks and Information Integration
Enterprise Software Initiative Program


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