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FCW : February 2016
is the new deadline for defense contractors to comply with NIST’s SP 800-171 standard Dec. 31, 2017 Twenty years ago, Congress mandated the collection of biometric data from travelers leaving the U.S. The system is still not in place, and officials from the Department of Homeland Security, which didn’t exist when the law was passed, got an earful from a Senate panel about the lengthy and repeated delays in implementing a biometric exit tracking system. “If Disneyland can do this, then the federal government ought to be able to do it,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said at a Jan. 20 hearing of the Judi- ciary Committee’s Immigration and the National Interest Subcommittee. The 9/11 Commission recommend- ed the implementation of a biometric entry/exit screening system, which was already legally mandated in a 1996 immigration law. Such a system would gather and screen biometric data from foreign nationals on their departure from the U.S. An entry sys- tem, under which biometric data is checked against terrorist watch lists and criminal databases, is already in place. John Wagner, Customs and Border Protection’s deputy assistant com- missioner for field operations, said it would take billions of dollars to give CBP officers mobile devices to facilitate exit tracking and to create biometric exit facilities at every gate at every airport and other departure points. “It’s not feasible, and it’s not going to work,” Wagner told the committee. According to DHS, a system for biometric exit would require technol- ogy that doesn’t yet exist. “DHS has concluded that a viable biometric exit solution depends on leveraging emerg- ing technologies to innovate ways of processing passengers biometrically,” according to written testimony attrib- uted to the three agency officials who appeared at the hearing. Rebecca Gambler, director of homeland security and justice issues at the Government Accountability Office, told lawmakers that DHS has “faced long-standing challenges in making progress” and has missed a number of its own milestones. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the subcommittee’s ranking member, said, “Knowing who is coming into the country and knowing who is going out is a matter of national security, plain and simple.” — Aisha Chowdhry Senate decries slow progress on biometric exit tracking February 2016 FCW.COM 9 If you flip back to the cover of this issue, you’ll note that we’re now in Volume 30 of FCW. The true birth- day comes next month — Federal Computer Week’s debut was March 23, 1987 — but we’re now closing in on three full decades of covering federal IT. I use “we” loosely because I am approach- ing just four years at FCW, and some of the current staffers are younger than the publication for which they write! But there are a few people on today’s masthead who were there on Day One and others who’ve been contributors for a decade or more — testament to the power of a great team and the importance of bringing the long view to covering this complex and critical community. That community and the issues that matter to it are quite different than they were in 1987, of course. You’ll find no mention of cybersecurity or mobile in that first edition, and I’ll go out on a limb and say FCW will never again write about dBase III code. But the core themes are remarkably constant: acquisition, smart management, systems integration, mission support, key people and the politics they must navigate. In fact, founding Editor Edith Holmes wrote this in the very first editor’s note: “We believe you need timely information whether you work in the Navy or the Social Security Administration — information about how other federal agencies solve problems in systems design, pur- chase and operations; about which products companies are introducing to this market; about critical changes in the rules and regulations that agencies and companies must fol- low...and about the people who work within the public sector and those with the private sector concerned with government.” That editorial vision holds true today and could well describe FCW’s coverage another 30 years down the road. This is a great community to chronicle, and we look forward to doing so for a long time to come. — Troy K. Schneider email@example.com @troyschneider EDITOR’S NOTE Three decades of FCW 0216fcw_003-010.indd 9 1/28/16 12:44 PM
March 15, 2016