By Marisa Torrieri, Contributing Editor
Less than four months since EDS stole some of competitor BearingPoint’s thunder by winning the General Services Agency’s bid for a shared service provider to execute HSPD-12’s ID-card program, BearingPoint is making waves with a major agency contract.
BearingPoint announced Aug. 1 a new contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to perform an Identity and Access Management pilot and implement 112,000 Personal Identity Verification (PIV) cards that are complaint with the FIPS 201 technological specification. The cards are a requirement for all federal employees and contractors under the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12).
Gordon Hannah, managing director for BearingPoint’s security and identity management program, says HHS chose BearingPoint after an evaluation of three companies: BearingPoint, EDS and Lockheed Martin.
“In a side by side competition for procurement, some of the key things that differentiate us is we’re both a management and technology consulting firm and a systems integrator,” says Mr. Hannah. “We look at this as a business issue, which resonated with HHS.”
By December, the company expects to have tested and issued about 10,000 cards in various divisions of HHS, Hannah says.
Because HHS is so large and encompasses smaller divisions (including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH)), a tailored solution is a better approach, Mr. Hannah says. For a large agency, the benefits of not opting for the “one size fits all” SSP program means greater flexibility.
For example, an agency may want the option to speed up the issuance of a new employee’s card when necessary, a BearingPoint spokesman says.
Additional benefits HHS will experience include more automated workflow processes and a shorter amount of time in setting up accounts, activating cards and deactivating cards, the spokesman continued.
EDS consortium well underway with new SSP offering
BearingPoint’s announcement comes nearly four months after the government selected EDS as the official Shared Services Provider for the FIPS 201 Card Rollout. The five-year contract, worth $66 million, was touted by GSA as a taxpayer bargain.
Upon issuing the award, GSA Administrator Lurita Doan said in a statement: “This award further enhances GSA’s ability to provide critical national security systems while reducing the overall costs to the government and taxpayers.”
BearingPoint was originally selected as the GSA’s SSP one year ago, in a contract worth $104.6 million. Soon afterwards, BearingPoint helped nearly 40 agencies produce their first cards produced for the Oct. 27, 2007 deadline.
The Shared Services Provider Program began in August 2006 to give agencies a one-stop-shop for implementing standards-compliant cards and card-management systems.
Under the SSP competitive contract, agencies in the same geographic locations will be able to share required HSPD-12 implementation services and take advantage of GSA’s oversight and related management services.
At press time, an EDS spokesman said the company had already long since begun execution of plans to build the infrastructure and service centers that will support the ID cards. This is the first step in preparing the 42 government agencies who have signed up for the SSP program for the FIPS 201 identity card rollout.
“I know that’s going on right now,” says EDS senior spokesman Brad Bass, who works with the company’s government contracts division. EDS’s partners in this venture include Northrop Grumman Corp., ActivIdentity Corp., Data Systems Analysts, Identification Technology Group, L-1 Identity Solutions, Oberthur Card Systems, and Tibco Software Inc.
In selecting EDS, the government basically chose the most cost-effective proposal. But undergoing the task of building the infrastructure and issuing cards requires a huge multi-million dollar financial investment, says Jeremy Grant, the Emerging Technologies Analyst at the Washington, D.C., research arm of Stanford Group Company.
“From what we hear, they’re doing a very decent job,” says Mr. Grant. “And from my perspective, the EDS team was a sensible choice. The GSA had to choose a vendor that was credible in this space. There was a very shaky coalition of federal agencies that signed up with GSA to deliver managed services. So GSA had to select someone those agencies would feel comfortable with, and EDS is certainly a company that has credibility in this space.”
The high level of business risk prompted Bearing Point to drop out of bidding at the last minute, Mr. Hannah confirmed.
Prepping Federal agencies for the October 2008 card-issuance deadline
By October 2008, all federal government agencies are expected to have issued their first round of FIPS 201 cards. One of the biggest challenges facing technology providers is convincing agencies that this is important.
“Combined, all Federal agencies have only issued roughly 5,000 PIV cards,” Mr. Grant says. “If you talk to vendors in this space, they’ll tell you the same sob story – It’s moving very slowly.”
“It’s an unfunded mandate,” continues Mr. Grant. “The OMB says you have to do this but agencies are wondering ‘could this go away after the Bush Administration goes away?’ This has been a tough sell among some of the agencies.”
EDS and its partners will be evaluated on a continuing basis, to ensure they’re following through with their end of the contract.
The government has the right to pull the contract and re-bid for a new SSP should they not follow through, says Mr. Grant. “I think it’ll be a question of: are they issuing cards or not? Do they work? I think they need to step up and show that it does.”
Research and evaluate FIPS 201 Approved Products and get the latest info on compliant credentialing systems at FIPS201.com. Click to visit FIPS201.com.