SC tries again for $10 million data-security contract

abeam@thestate.comAugust 23, 2013 

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— State officials received three bids for a $10 million data-security contract, but none qualified for the work because they did not meet the state’s qualifications, Gov. Nikki Haley said Friday.

As a result, the state Budget and Control Board Friday issued a new “request for proposals,” asking companies to submit bids again – this time to meet revised qualifications. The deadline to submit bids is now Oct. 3.

“When you have three bids come in and those three can’t match up because the industry has changed, it lets us know we need to have a new RFP,” Haley said.

The contract comes almost a year after an international hacker stole the personal financial information of 6.4 million S.C. consumers, their children and businesses from tax forms filed with the state Department of Revenue. In response, state officials last year issued an emergency, $12 million, no-bid contract to Experian to monitor the credit of those affected for a year. That contract expires at the end of October.

It is unclear exactly why the three new bids recently submitted were rejected. But a change in the RFP – or request for proposal – offers a clue.

The first RFP would have required a company to monitor all three major credit bureaus at once to make sure no one’s identity was stolen. The new RFP only requires the company to monitor one of the credit bureaus.

The change prompted criticism from Democratic lawmakers.

“They are watering it down. This is flying in the face of what was promised and what the Legislature authorized,” said state Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg. “They said they were going to provide the most security, and this is clearly less than the most.”

A spokesman for Republican Gov. Haley said the RFP does not prohibit companies from monitoring all three credit bureaus and asks companies to report how much it would cost to monitor all three.

“Adjustments made to the RFP this morning by the Budget and Control Board work to get the most protection for the best value,” Haley spokesman Doug Mayer said. “Gov. Haley supports, and the RFP clearly allows for, monitoring by all three credit bureaus.”

In addition to credit monitoring, the contract requires change-of-address monitoring, payday-loan monitoring and “Internet surveillance,” including “scanning black market or underground websites” to detect fraudulent activity. The contract also would give identity-theft insurance to every taxpayer to cover “identity-restoration costs, losses due to identity theft, lost wages and legal fees and expenses” of up to $1 million.

Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.

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