Task forces mark the trail

As OMB sifts through the latest agency reports, it coordinates fresh guidance

THE BIG 'IF': Peter Tseronis says Education's IPV6 plan is ready for deployment'if they get funding.

Rick Steele

Help is on the way for agencies in their move to IP Version 6 by June 2008.

With most departments in the planning and design phase, the Office of Management and Budget, CIO Council and National Institute of Standards and Technology are sending reinforcements in the guise of four task forces, as well as standards and transition guidance.

'These teams will address cross-agency issues such as 'but not limited to' identifying IPv6-capable products currently available in the marketplace, facilitating cross-agency testing efforts and communicating the government's IPv6 requirements out to the IT vendor community,' said an OMB official who requested anonymity.

NIST will publish a standards profile in November and technical guidance that focuses extensively on cybersecurity in early 2007. The OMB official said NIST sent an outline of the IT security document to agencies for comment last month.

These helping hands come on the heels of agencies' final official reports to OMB on their IPv6 migrations. Agencies had until June 30 to perform a second inventory of their network backbone of existing IP-compliant devices and technologies, and develop an impact analysis that looked at cost and risks. The final deadline, as the administration laid out in its August 2005 memo, is to have IPv6-capable backbones in place by June 2008.

In an e-mail exchange with GCN, the OMB official said 23 of 24 agencies met the June 30 deadline, and the remaining agency'which the official did not name'is expected to turn in its inventory and analysis this month.

'OMB will use the inventories, along with other information submitted to OMB, and work with the CIO Council to identify requirements and develop an acquisition strategy for IPv6 products and services,' the official said.

Peter Tseronis, the Education Department's director of network services, said meeting the June 30 deadline wasn't difficult, because his agency has been preparing for the transition for a while.

In fact, Tseronis said Education already has a plan in place for a phased-in approach for all of the department to use IPv6 over the next four years. The plan includes training, engineering and design, testing, and implementation and production.

'If we get the funding, we will deploy this,' he said. 'If not, we will do what we can.'

Education's plan puts them in rare company among agencies, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report, made public last month.

Auditors, as of Feb. 2006, found that 11 agencies have not developed and implemented a test plan for IPv6 compatibility and/or interoperability, and 14 agencies have not begun IPv6-related maintenance and monitoring of their networks. GAO also said 10 agencies have yet to develop policies and enforcement mechanisms to ensure the transition to the new protocol [GCN.com, GCN.com/648].

'Until agencies complete key planning activities, their transition efforts risk not being successful,' auditors said in the report, completed at the request of Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the Government Reform Committee.

Even though June 30 was the last official reporting deadline, OMB will be checking on agency progress through quarterly progress reports beginning Sept. 1, the OMB official said.

Mapping two years out

Tseronis said Education has mapped out the next two years so they know what they need to do, how much it will cost and the risks associated with each part of the network backbone's move.

In Education's cost and risk analysis submission to OMB, Tseronis said his office proposed three alternatives'each dependent on how much funding they receive from Congress.

'It is our determination that we need to get the core backbone capable of passing traffic,' he said. 'The alternatives were based on price, depending on how many network elements were going to be upgraded or replaced.'

Tseronis said the second inventory included second tier backbone services, such as the domain name services and dynamic host configuration protocol services.

The official said OMB would finish analyzing the cost and risk analyses from all agencies by September. 'A preliminary look at the agencies' cost projections shows the potential for cost savings and cost avoidance through cross-agency collaboration,' the official said. 'OMB, GSA and the Federal IPv6 Working Group of the CIO Council will look for ways agencies can reduce IPv6 implementation costs by working together on activities such as interoperability, security testing, product certification and training.'

Education also looked for networking applications that were deemed core elements of the backbone.

'We looked at every device in the network and decided which were considered core,' he said. 'We decided to segment specific pieces in our core and looked at all that use IPv4 and how they will be affected by IPv6 addresses.'

Despite the tepid performance of agencies, at least according to GAO, OMB said agencies are on track to meet the June 2008 deadline.

The official said actual implementation should take place in 2007 for most departments, with testing and implementation set for the fourth quarter of 2007 and 2008.

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