GTRI launches Trustmark website at identity ecosystem steering group meeting

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) hosted the 7th plenary of the Identity Ecosystem Steering Group (IDESG) Jan. 14-16, 2014 in support of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC).

During the event, GTRI launched a new website on the Trustmark technology at A trustmark is a rigorously defined, machine-readable statement of compliance with a specific set of technical or business/policy rules. The use of trustmarks has been pioneered by GTRI and developed with funding from the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), a White House initiative to work collaboratively with the private sector, advocacy groups and public-sector agencies to create an “identity ecosystem” in which technologies, policies and consensus-based standards support greater choice, trust, security and privacy with online transactions.

IDESG has been established as a new organization led by the private sector in conjunction with, but independent of the federal government.

In October, GTRI was awarded an NSTIC pilot project grant. Under the grant, GTRI will develop and demonstrate a trustmark framework that facilitates cost-effective scaling of interoperable trust across multiple communities of interest within the identity ecosystem and enhances privacy through transparency and third-party validation.

Trustmarks have the potential to enable wide-scale trust and interoperability within the identity ecosystem by helping to foster transparency and widespread operational convergence on the specific requirements for each dimension of interoperability, including communication protocols and profiles, cryptographic algorithms, business-level user attributes for access control and audit purposes and various levels of policy such as privacy policies and practices.

Trustmarks can also reduce the complexity of the identity ecosystem’s trust landscape, and turn what would otherwise be a collection of poorly interconnected “federated identity siloes” into a more cohesive trust environment. In addition, trustmarks can enhance privacy within the identity ecosystem by helping communities of interest define clear, concise and rigorous privacy rules that participating agencies must follow.

“The concept of trustmarks and a trustmark framework mean different things to different stakeholders,” said John Wandelt, principle investigator for the GTRI NSTIC trustmark pilot.  “The vision of identity ecosystem where trustmarks can be broadly re-used and trusted across several communities of interest to satisfy interoperability, privacy, security and trust needs will require transparency, collaboration and sufficient engineering rigor to concretely specify.”

The new website will facilitate a common understanding of trustmarks and a trustmark framework.  Artifacts resulting from the GTRI pilot project will be posted at this website along with blogs and other related information.

“The objective is to solicit comments from the IDESG, other NSTIC pilots, and the community at large while maintaining the integrity of our pilot schedule,” said Wandelt.

“Trustmarks and Trust Frameworks are a common theme across multiple pilots and discussions in the IDESG,” said Jeremy Grant, Senior Executive for the NSTIC Program Office.

“GTRI’s decision to provide visibility into their trustmark pilot artifacts and findings early on is a great example of the type of collaboration we are encouraging between NSTIC pilots and the IDESG,” said Grant.  “It should contribute to accelerating substantive discussion and progress in this important area.”

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Tensions brew between government and contractors over intellectual property

Tensions are brewing in the defense contracting business over government efforts to secure rights to manufacturers’ intellectual property. The clash pits military buyers who want to break up suppliers’ monopolies against companies whose livelihood depends on keeping tight control over their designs.

With the Defense Department under pressure to slash costs as budgets shrink, officials are targeting weapons programs for potential savings. They are particularly keen on reducing the cost of weapons maintenance and production by opening up the market to new competitors.

To do that in a market that is dominated by single-source manufacturers, the Defense Department needs what is known as “rights in technical data.” When the Pentagon buys a weapon system, it retains unlimited rights to the data if the item was designed with government funds. But when a product is financed by a private company, the firm keeps full control of the intellectual property and the government is simply a buyer.

Except in limited circumstances, contracting officials cannot disclose a private company’s proprietary data outside the government.

As the Pentagon in recent decades has become more dependent on the private sector for high-tech equipment, it now realizes that many of the existing arrangements restrict the government from seeking competing bids for maintenance or production of that equipment unless the manufacturers grant data rights. For most suppliers, that equates to killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

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Procurement reform is one of 3 tech trends predicted for 2014

[Note: This article was written by Steve Towns, executive editor of Governing magazine.]

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Niels Bohr famously said, “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” I tend to agree with him, but as we enter the New Year there are three interrelated technology issues that we can’t ignore. They’ll demand more attention from state and local leaders in 2014.

1. Data Analytics – Governments are great at collecting information, but they often do a lousy job of using it effectively.

2. Civic Innovation – While governments are struggling to get a handle on analytics, many have done a good job of opening data for public consumption.

3. Procurement Reform – One of the biggest barriers to harnessing the growing momentum around civic technology is government procurement.

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Reflections of a small IT contractor on the government shutdown of 2013 and 2014’s uncertainties

[Note: This article was written by Terry Verigan, vice president of CompuCure.] 

Hurricane Katrina nearly killed CompuCure. In the wake of the storm, just three of us remained by Oct. 1, 2005, and the weeks ahead promised to be grim for our New Orleans-based IT services firm — what was left of it anyway. But we weren’t going to let that damn storm chase us away from our city.

By September 2013, eight long years after Katrina wiped out so many lives and businesses, CompuCure had rebounded sufficiently to make Inc. Magazine’s list of the fastest growing businesses in America. With a talented staff of 30 delivering projects that had achieved national recognition for quality and value, it was tempting to think we’d made it to some sort of safe high ground, economically speaking. But by late September, our president and owner, Angelina Parker, faced another storm, this one political. The federal shutdown nearly took down the business again.

While we had become accustomed to the disruptions that stemmed from continuing resolutions — the stop-gap budgets lawmakers typically adopted while they continued to disagree over larger spending questions — those rarely impacted our work at federal sites. Employees would clock in while budgets were frozen and eventually CompuCure would be reimbursed. Our line of credit was more than sufficient to carry on. Interest charges eat away at profitability, but we could keep going, knowing that our people and their families felt secure. Our most valuable resources, our employees, would still be on the job.

But the shutdown was different. It meant lost revenue to CompuCure, not just a delay in getting invoices paid. Disturbing questions emerged, notably: How would we keep our talented employees from moving to other companies less dependent on federal contracts?

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DoD acquisition heroes during Iraq, Afghanistan? Small biz, universities and DARPA

You didn’t hear much about them during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but DARPA, small businesses, and universities were the people who most impressed retired Gen. Hoss Cartwright when he was vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he and the services scrambled to find weapons to give American troops a combat edge.

“DARPA was incredible to our ability to gain advantage. Small businesses and universities were hotbeds of innovation for us,”  Cartwright said during a panel at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on lessons learned from the last dozen years of war. He made no mention of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, or BAE Systems — or any of the other large defense companies.

What made them special? “Their willingness to take risks… made a huge difference and saved countless lives on the battlefield,” Cartwright said. And he said that in Afghanistan and (previously) Iraq, “[the] battlefield is not driven by platforms” — tanks, ships, planes — which take so long to design, build, and deploy.

Another avenue of innovation at the Pentagon sprang from the acquisition processes of Special Operations Command (SOCOM), which has the right to just buy things in small quantities if it really needs them.

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Second round of solicitations added to simplified federal contracting site

A new crop of solicitations has been posted in the past few weeks to the government’s startup website for simplified government contracting RFP-EZ.

There were 15 solicitations on RFP-EZ Monday afternoon, including one for a new mobile application to help the U.S. Marine Corps communicate with marines and recruits and one for a new health promotion Web tool for the Health and Human Services Department.

That’s more than double the six solicitations posted to the site early this year in a first-round beta test.

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White House to expand small business access to federal innovation, grants

The Obama administration plans to help small businesses access new markets  quicker by giving them better access to technology developed in federal  laboratories, as well as by expanding grant programs.

As part of its recently updated small business cross agency priority framework, the administration says it wants agencies to take steps to streamline  the process for private-public research partnerships so that startups can access  research and development grants 50 percent faster.

Keep reading this article at: White House to expand small business access to federal innovation, grants – FierceGovernment


Small business/small contract webinar to be held Feb. 26th

On February 26, 2013, the National Academies’ Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR) will host a special webinar on RFP-EZ, a new online marketplace that streamlines the government contracting process, making it simpler for small businesses to find and bid on low-dollar contracts from federal agencies. The U.S. Small Business Administration, in conjunction with the White House’s Presidential Innovation Fellows, recently launched a “beta” (pilot) version of RFP-EZ. The new program allows the government to source low-cost, high-impact solutions from innovative tech companies. A limited number of low-dollar contracts through the RFP-EZ website. If successful, the pilot will be expanded to include more contracts for a more diverse group of innovative startups.
On this one-hour webinar, you will hear about how the streamlined process helps save significant amounts of time for all types of business, especially high-growth startups. RFP-EZ represents a unique opportunity for innovative startups to easily access the federal government marketplace and, in turn, help fuel job growth throughout the country. By simply creating a company profile on the beta site, each small business can search and bid for contracts relevant to its skill set. A small business can easily search for an opportunity, see a statement of work, and bid all within the RFP-EZ web interface.

Agencies told to assume the worst in budget requests

The Obama administration still holds out hope of avoiding the across-the-board budget cuts required under the 2011 Budget Control Act, but it is nonetheless instructing federal agencies to begin preparing their fiscal 2014 budget requests assuming a 5 percent cut in discretionary spending.

Acting Budget Director Jeffrey Zients in a memo to agency heads on Friday said the coming spending plan will build on the Budget Control Act and the fiscal 2013 document’s framework, and hence “must continue to cut lower-priority spending in order to create room for the most effective investments in areas critical to economic growth and job creation, including education, innovation, infrastructure, and research and development.”

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From transit hubs to combat zones: Serving the government customer with lightweight materials

The Georgia Institute of Technology is presenting a one-day workshop on the development of a sustainable domestic industrial base for lightweight, energy-efficient systems. The workshop will bring together acquisition leaders from the U.S. Government, academia, and industry that have common interests in supply chain analysis and advancing the availability of domestic sources for lightweight material solutions for Government systems.

Senior leadership and staff representing the interagency Defense Production Act Committee (DPAC) have been invited to participate. The DPAC is a Congressionally-established body comprised of 17 Department and Agency heads who advise the President on ensuring the U.S. industrial base can meet essential government needs. Proceedings of the workshop will help advance the analysis of a new DPAC effort dedicated to lightweight materials.

The availability of advanced lightweight materials is a cross-cutting requirement that is crucial to improving the performance of many systems in areas such as energy-efficiency and performance. This technology has applications to current systems, such as automotive and aircraft light-weighting, while also acting as an enabler for innovative platforms, such as alternative energy sources. However, some of the resources for stronger, lighter, and more energy efficient materials, originate outside of the U.S. The long-term robustness of those resources currently produced in the U.S. have not been systematically examined across the entire spectrum of the Federal programs. Should any of these suppliers fail to deliver key goods, the U.S. becomes strategically vulnerable.

The workshop’s primary goal is to ensure closer alignment and coordination among all stakeholders – Federal agencies, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s), suppliers, trade associations, technical societies, and academia – to achieve a robust industrial base for lightweight, energy-efficient materials. The following topics will be discussed:

1. The current limitations of conventional materials and the need for
lightweight systems;
2. Define the supply chain requirements for meeting lightweight,
high-performance, energy-efficient targets within Federal programs;
3. Identify underdeveloped industrial bases and examine why these
gaps/deficiencies exist; and
4. Advise DPAC on a way forward for the development of domestic

The conference will commence with keynote and guest speakers, followed by a panel comprised of representatives from academia, Government, and industry who will discuss the need for domestic sources of lightweight materials. Two breakout discussion sessions (in the morning and the afternoon) will occur:

Morning Sessions:
1.) Technology Development & Transition
2.) Workforce Development
3.) Supply Chain Vulnerabilities
4.) Policy Gaps

Afternoon Sessions:
1.) Composites
2.) Ceramics
3.) Metals
4.) Emerging Materials

The workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, June 5, from 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. in Georgia Tech’s Global Learning Center. A networking lunch will be served at 12:15 p.m. Poster sessions will also be held throughout the day.

Fees and Registration
Registration is $80.00 per person – Registration deadline: Thursday, May 31, 2012. The registration fee includes all workshop materials, conference presentations, refreshments, and the Luncheon on June 5. Workshop seating is limited to 125 participants, so please register early!

For more information and to register, please visit: