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New OMB Policy Puts Identity Management in Perspective

Identity, Credentialing, and Access Management (ICAM) is the set of security disciplines that allows agencies to manage, monitor, and secure access to protected resources. These resources may be electronic such as files or computer systems, or physical resources such as server rooms and buildings. 

In May of this year, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released an updated policy on Identity, Credentialing, and Access Management (ICAM). The policy provides ICAM guidance for the federal government and outlines specific responsibilities for federal agencies.

As one of the agencies that leads governmentwide ICAM efforts, GSA is committed to ensuring the federal government’s long-term viability, security, responsiveness, and efficiency. To do so, we have specific responsibilities regarding the ICAM acquisition solutions we make available to agencies.

ICAM Policy

This ICAM policy comes at a crucial time. The discussion around defining identity is evolving rapidly. Identity is now more than just a person; it is a unique representation of a subject and can include devices like cell phones, tablets, TVs, or any network connected item. Ensuring the right people (or device) have the right credentials and access are paramount.

OMB’s ICAM policy gives the federal government direction by first clarifying what it considers to be identity. The policy further defines what it means to:

  • manage those identities, 
  • provide credentials to not only government employees and contractors but the public as well, and 
  • allow access to the right information systems and physical access to buildings. 

Agency-Level Responsibility

ICAM is now an agency-level responsibility. Agencies’ approach to ICAM should consider governance, architecture, and acquisition. The ICAM policy lays out agency responsibilities to meet policy outcomes accordingly. 

What must agencies do? Here’s a high-level list:

  • Develop an agency-wide ICAM office, which may require more resources. 
  • Assess current ICAM capabilities, identify gaps for new capabilities, and develop plans to transition obsolete capabilities.
  • Use acquisition vehicles such as Best-In-Class, Tier 2, or federal shared services to procure new capabilities.

Also, the ICAM policy specifies responsibilities for agencies that lead governmentwide efforts in identity management. GSA, along with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), will update to the ICAM guidance and develop ICAM roadmaps. The other agencies’ responsibilities are described within the policy.

GSA is specifically tasked with ensuring all current ICAM solutions and shared services are immediately available for agencies to use to begin meeting policy requirements.

Also, GSA will ensure ICAM acquisition solutions comply with this OMB ICAM policy as well as other relevant laws, standards, and guidance.

GSA’s ICAM Solutions

Agencies can visit GSA’s eLibrary to see the current ICAM SINs on IT Schedule 70 available, which includes the PKI Shared Service Provider (SSP) Program (132-61), HSPD-12 (132-62), and PKI Professional Services (132-60f).

Another important ICAM solution is the USAccess Program. GSA’s USAccess program provides federal government agencies with identity credential solutions. This shared service provides an efficient, economical and secure infrastructure to support agencies’ credentialing needs. Currently, the program supports over 600,000 users and continues to add more users.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is the most recent large federal agency to choose USAccess for its identity credentialing solution. When fully operational, this will bring over 500,000 additional cardholders onto the USAccess system.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Modernizing the Government’s Contact Centers

We’ve all called a customer service line at some point in our lives, whether to order a new service for our house, change a flight, or set up a medical appointment.

Nowadays our options for getting to what we need are rapidly growing. Chatbots, voice recognition, and artificial intelligence (AI) systems provide faster and more accurate responses to our increasingly complex questions.

This applies to the government too. Thousands of people call various government agencies every day with requests and concerns. At GSA, it’s our job to help agencies get the solutions they need to make their contact centers as effective and efficient as possible. In fact, the President’s Management Agenda calls for agencies to provide a modern, streamlined, and responsive customer experience.

We’re ready to help and we developed a solution for those agencies through IT Schedule 70. 

Automated Contact Center Solutions – Up and Running

Earlier this fiscal year, we launched the Automated Contact Center Solutions (ACCS) Special Item Number (SIN) 132-20 under IT Schedule 70.  

This SIN provides any combination of technologies, equipment, software, and/or services needed to deliver high-quality customer service interactions to agency constituents across multiple channels.

The ACCS SIN includes a wide range of automated and attended managed solutions focused on modern contact center technologies: 

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Callback
  • Chat Bots
  • Email Delivery
  • Hosted Online Ordering
  • Hosted Email Web Form
  • Hosted FAQ Service  
  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
  • Text-to-Speech
  • Voice/Speech Recognition
  • Voicemail
  • Web Callback

Experienced Industry Partners

With the ACCS SIN, federal, state, local, tribal, and other eligible governments can access pre-vetted, experienced automated contact center solutions providers using IT Schedule 70’s streamlined procurement process.

Currently, there are 14 pre-vetted contractors (8 large, 6 small) on the ACCS SIN, with more in the queue to join.  As of 7/24/2019:

  • AT&T Corporation
  • Carahsoft Technology Corporation
  • Cognosante, LLC
  • Deborgem Enterprises, Inc.
  • Filius Corporation
  • IQ Solutions, Inc.
  • ITCON Services, LLC
  • Kores, LLC
  • Leidos, Inc.
  • Maximus Federal Services, Inc.
  • Palmetto GBA, LLC
  • Senture, LLC
  • Systems Integration, Inc.
  • TPUSA, Inc.

GSA is here to help streamline agency acquisitions, provide free scope reviews of draft solicitations, assist with market research activities, share best practices and ideas, conduct training, and more.   

For more information about the ACCS SIN, visit www.gsa.gov/contactcenter, or contact the program office at contactcenter@gsa.gov.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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EIS and IT Modernization: Foundation for the Future

As IT professionals, we know what it means for an organization to be data-driven. The infrastructure on which that data moves is critical to the government’s mission success and the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract will serve as the foundation for public-sector technological transformation.

Modern Telecom: Far From Phones

Telecommunications services enable practically all information technology (IT) in every government agency. The establishment, maintenance, and modernization of communications networks are key components of our government’s ability to meet its mission.

We support agencies’ global missions with a complete spectrum of IT and telecommunications services, infrastructure and equipment.

We offer:

  • access services
  • accessible telecommunications
  • managed network services
  • network applications
  • satellite services and applications
  • telecommunications services
  • wireless and mobile networking

We bring together our technical and acquisition experts, leading industry partners, and agency specialists to offer these services efficiently, effectively, and at a lower cost to taxpayers.

The Future is Flexible

IT modernization is a national priority with bipartisan support from Congress, the White House, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Each federal agency is at a different point in the network modernization process and can deploy new technology at different rates.

New IT modernization guidance and legislation, combined with market changes and citizen expectations, are driving the demand for transformative technological change at unprecedented levels.

EIS: Made for Modernization

EIS is a catalyst for IT modernization. To expand bandwidth, EIS will help agencies move away from time-division multiplexing technology to more modern services. It will replace legacy voice services with Voice over Internet Protocol or unified communications. Rather than having each agency design and operate multiple parts of a network, EIS will use cost-saving managed services, such as cloud migration.

EIS will also embed security components directly in network services purchases, thus helping agencies proactively defend their systems. EIS is the only federal contract to include both Department of Homeland Security cybersecurity requirements as well as OMB policy directives.

Simplicity Brings Savings

Under EIS, agencies can structure their acquisitions from a single source, dramatically simplifying the process. This EIS feature promotes cost savings through aggregated federal buying, which can deliver a monthly savings of 16-21%.

To open opportunities for small businesses and foster competition, EIS relaxed its geographical coverage requirement and reduced the number of mandatory services.

As a Best-in-Class solution, EIS will ensure customers receive pre-vetted and secure solutions to protect their systems, data, and people.

The Big Picture

As agencies transition to EIS, they get a major opportunity to address legacy systems and meet their network-related IT Modernization requirements using a more holistic, strategic approach. Migrating to cloud infrastructure, enhanced mobility, automation, satellite communications, and cybersecurity are common topics among agency officials and policymakers.

But for an agency to truly modernize, the practice of simply replacing legacy equipment and adhering to traditional, fixed-price contracting models—the so-called, “Like for Like” approach—will not be enough. We now plan and pay for technology according to the services we consume, not just the products we acquire.

EIS was designed to allow agencies to use this consumption-based pricing model, so they can access new and emerging technologies as their needs evolve and opportunities arise.

Collaboration is Key

EIS represents a landmark collaboration among GSA, federal agencies, and industry innovators on a simple, flexible solution. Just recently, we hosted over 120 customers at our second annual EIS conference. The event allowed IT leaders, telecommunications providers, contracting officers, project managers, and finance specialists to meet and learn how the EIS transition will support their IT modernization goals.

Roadmap

In December 2018, we announced we were extending the current legacy telecommunications contracts to 2023. Agencies have less than four more years to transition to EIS.

The EIS Transition Roadmap shows important milestones, namely:

  • September 30, 2019: Deadline for awarding EIS task orders.
  • March 31, 2020: Use of the extended contracts will be limited for agencies who have not made task order awards.
  • March 31, 2022: 90% of agencies’ telecom inventory must be off expiring contracts
  • May 31, 2023: Current contracts expire.

Have questions about how to accelerate your progress in meeting these milestones? Connect with our customer support team at gsa.gov/nspsupport.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Way Beyond Wireless: Planning for 5G

Every generation of wireless technology has enabled new business models, increased our connectivity, and changed our lives in unimaginable ways. 5G is poised to do the same. 5G enabled devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) will allow huge numbers of sensors and devices to gather incredible amounts of  data and transmit the data at remarkable speeds over wide distances. We are going to see a new wave of information enabled in government and industry. Instead of your phone or laptop acting as the processor, it will sit inside the edge of the 5G infrastructure. This will allow things like driverless vehicles and telemedicine.

5G will provide the digital infrastructure that will shape the quality of life of most of the earth’s population. Yes, it will load web pages and play videos on your phone 10 to 20 times faster than 4G. Mobile devices will spend less time processing data, which will consume less power, which will result in extended battery life. But these are little advances compared to what is possible.

The true potential is how the technology can quickly transfer data between devices in lots of different ways. That ability means it will replace cable and WiFi networks in homes, offices, campuses, military bases, and even whole cities.

What does 5G mean for government?

Because it enables the IoT, 5G is one of the more important emerging technologies. Thanks to 5G’s flexibility, every level of government will use 5G as IoT enters the public sector. Consider these applications:

  • Replacing outdated telecommunications and network technology in public buildings and facilities. 
  • Allowing for advanced automation and security processes at logistics centers and the nation’s ports. 
  • Supporting augmented and virtual reality (VR) applications in our national laboratories. 
  • Monitoring regional and interstate entities power grids to keep pace with fluctuating demands.
  • Providing traffic control and managing fleets of self-driving vehicles in cities.

U.S. policy considers 5G a strategic national asset, and the legislative and executive branches are actively working to reallocate spectrum for its use. The National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) is developing standards and testing 5G technologies. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is focusing on cybersecurity threats unique to 5G. Recently, the White House issued an executive order to proactively create and secure commercial supply chains in a 5G future. 

How can my agency get 5G?

We are uniquely positioned to fulfill our customers’ needs and help prepare for 5G implementation.

GSA’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract and Schedule 70’s SIN 132-53 Wireless Mobility Solutions both cover 5G services and infrastructure. Alliant 2 GWAC and Connections II cover infrastructure only.

What’s next?

We’ll be explaining how 5G works, how it will be deployed, and the steps we’re taking to deliver it to our customers. We’ll soon release a white paper outlining our approach to 5G implementation.

On October 3, we’re hosting a 5G Technology Customer Event, where we’ll address how 5G makes concepts like network slicing and edge computing possible. Email wireless@gsa.gov to get on the invite list.  

Join the conversation on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn.