IG confirms: DMS will need AUTODIN for backup
- By Gregory Slabodkin
- Jun 29, 1998
The Defense Department inspector general this month confirmed what DOD officials have
been saying for months: The Defense Message System will not fully replace AUTODIN by 2000.
In a report, Readiness of the Defense Message System to Replace the Automatic Digital
Network, the office of the IG concluded that DMS wont be ready on time to replace
some critical AUTODIN messaging functions, including classified message processing and
emergency action messages. The AUTODIN contract expires December of next year and has no
further option periods.
"Without DMS, critical messaging services will need to be provided by AUTODIN or
the mission of the warfighter will be severely impacted," the report said. "This
possible lack of critical messaging capability is due, at least in part, to unanticipated
changes in requirements and technical challenges that have occurred since the inception of
The Defense Information Systems Agency in 1988 began developing DMS to replace AUTODIN
and to provide an estimated 2 million DOD users with a global e-mail system based on
commercial products. But the Joint Chiefs of Staff changed the DMS requirements in 1994 by
adding classified intelligence messaging, a capability that DISA predicts will not be
available by 2000, the report said.
DOD in May 1995 awarded Lockheed Martin Corp. the $1.6 billion DMS contract, but a
protest delayed the start of work until August 1995. As of February, the department had
obligated $226 million to develop DMS, the report said.
But delays in the DMS schedule continued. The initial operational test and evaluations
scheduled for January 1996 instead began six months later and ended last August. Any more
schedule slips will likely delay the initial operation slated for 2000, the report said.
DOD estimated that DMS would be fully operational in 2008. But DISA based the estimate
on the availability of DMS-compliant components in 1996. The department did not approve
many components until last year, the IG audit team found.
"National security could be affected if classified messages were not delivered on
secure lines in a timely manner," the report said. "Therefore, a minimum number
of AUTODIN circuits and switching centers should remain open to support classified message
There are eight AUTODIN switching centers worldwide. DOD plans to close two centers by
December and a third next April. The remaining five switch centers are set to close in
December of next year when the 10-year AUTODIN contract held by GTE Corp. expires.
If AUTODIN service is needed beyond that date, DISA will have to award a new
sole-source contract to GTE, the report said.
"No other contractor has the ability to provide AUTODIN services without an
expenditure of enormous cost and time," the IG said.
The IG recommended that AUTODIN run until DMS is ready. The report also recommended
that DOD upgrade systems connected to AUTODIN beyond 2000. The central communications
systems of AUTODIN are year 2000-ready, but some systems that receive messages through
AUTODIN are not.
Richard Dyson, director of communications in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of
Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence, concurred with the
IGs findings and recommendations.
Dyson said DOD will maintain DMS transition hubs with AUTODIN-like switching and
translation services to support selected critical systems as well as allied, coalition and
tactical users as long as necessary.