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Since 1989 the National Institute of Standards and Technology Computer Security Division has been active in the incident handling community. As one of the eleven founding members of the international organization, Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST), NIST recognized early the need for computer security incident handling. In the initial five years of FIRST's existence, NIST served as the FIRST Secretariat and the host of the e-mail list and web site. NIST has a long standing reputation for creating environments to foster and nurture collaboration among experts to address technical issues and to use the knowledge gained from these experiences to provide guidance to Federal agencies and the public. NIST Special Publication 800-3, "Establishing a Computer Security Incident Response Capability," provided guidance on developing a centralized and cost-effective approach to handling computer security incidents.
From 1996 through September 1998, NIST, along with the operational partners of the Department of Energy's Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAC) and the CERT/CC, began and operated the Federal Computer Incident Response Capability (FedCIRC). FedCIRC was a Government Information Technology Services Board pilot designed to address the near- and long-term incident handling needs of the Federal civilian community. FedCIRC provided incident handling services to civilian agencies and helped build agency competence and self-reliance in incident handling. On October 1, 1998, the General Services Administration became the manager of the FedCIRC initiative.