Rep. Davis proposes quicker review of security technology

Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., plans to introduce legislation this week to help organize and speed the federal government's evaluation and implementation of various technologies for homeland security and anti-terrorism efforts.

Davis, who chairs the House Government Reform Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee, said he will introduce a bill Wednesday to establish a program at the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) to help the government leverage security innovations.

Private-sector leaders such as Siebel Systems CEO Thomas Siebel and government leaders have said there is not enough staff or an established process for reviewing the ideas flooding into the White House Office of Homeland Security and security agencies. Many tech firms have told Davis they are having trouble getting audiences to showcase their products, Davis said Tuesday during a press conference on the 2002 Networked Economy Summit.

"The reality is clear: Because of a lack of staffing expertise, many of these proposals have been sitting unevaluated, perhaps denying the government the breakthrough technology it needs to better protect Americans and our nation," Davis said.

The legislation would create an interagency team of experts to seek innovative anti-terrorism solutions, evaluate proposals and send them to the proper agencies for action. Such a team would consist of the OFPP administrator and representatives from the Office of Management and Budget, and the Defense, Energy, Commerce, Transportation and Treasury departments. A technical assistance team would assess the merits and feasibility of the proposals.

The bill also would launch a program to provide monetary awards for industry excellence in terror-fighting solutions. The awards would be capped at $20,000 for individual awards and $500,000 for total awards, with at least one-quarter of the money going to small businesses.

The bill also would establish a pilot program to encourage acquisition professionals in agencies to creatively use existing means to acquire commercial, off-the-shelf technology solutions.

Davis spokesman David Marin said OFPP and the Office of Homeland Security "like the concept" of the bill. The measure would go to Davis' subcommittee for consideration.

On another front, Davis said a cyber-security measure he co-sponsored with Rep. James Moran, D-Va., could move through the House soon. The bill, H.R. 2435, would exempt businesses from certain provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, antitrust prosecution and lawsuits when they voluntary disclose to the government the vulnerabilities in their technology networks.

The legislation has a Senate companion bill, S. 1456. Davis said he is sure his bill could win House approval but added, "I never know what will happen in the Senate."

Marin later told reporters that the antitrust provisions could be removed to bypass the House Judiciary Committee, which has been focused on reform of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. If the bill bypasses Judiciary, the antitrust provisions could be revived in conference.

Separately, Davis and Moran plan to introduce legislation this week to combat the proliferation of fake state-issued drivers' licenses by calling for universal standards and biometric technologies.

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