DOD, services eye 2000 goals

DOD, services eye 2000 goals

The Army's Miriam Browning says the service expects to expand its Web portal project.

Security, NMCI, procurement are among post-Y2K challenges, officials say

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

With the year 2000 rollover past, the Defense Department's next big challenge is the leap year date change. On March 1, officials said, they will turn their full attention to a handful of initiatives: security, the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet, knowledge management and specialized buying vehicles.

Information assurance and critical information protection are not as date-sensitive as year 2000 readiness was last year, but protecting the Non-Classified IP Router Network, and implementing digital signature and public-key infrastructure technology are top priorities this year, said Arthur L. Money, the assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications and intelligence.

Congress held five appropriations hearings on DOD digital signature plans, but lawmakers did not approve any funds, Money said. So any money spent this year will be diverted 'out of the hide' of other programs.

In the department's program objective memorandum for 2001, DOD has targeted funding for digital signature projects, he said.

'Most of the problems we have today weren't planned, therefore we didn't' list them in 2000, he said. 'We see this as a readiness issue,' and Defense Secretary William Cohen has given unwavering support for digital signature pilots, Money said.

In response to a Nov. 10 memo from deputy Defense secretary John J. Hamre, DOD agencies will implement smart cards this year. The Navy by Jan. 31 will define the department's smart-card requirements.

According to the Hamre memo, DOD plans to use smart cards as standard identification cards for active-duty officers, selected reserve and civilian personnel, and contractors. Besides using them to control access to buildings, DOD would also use the cards to control network log-on privileges. The cards would become DOD's primary authentication tokens.

DOD officials want smart cards with authentication and nonrepudiation features so that users can ensure the integrity of messaging transactions. Those features could help with NIPRnet applications such as paperless contracting and procurement, Money said.

The primary concern of Navy officials this year is the $2 billion Navy-Marine Corps Intranet procurement. Calling the project the 'ultimate manifestation of procurement reform,' Lee Buchanan, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, said last month that NMCI was on track for a May 30 award.

Information technology is an area that 'cries [out] for new ways of doing business in the Navy,' Buchanan said, and service officials are doing that by buying NMCI as a service. 'We used to drive that business, and now we can barely keep up.'

NMCI bidders will be judged on their ability to support mission- and non-mission-critical applications, fulfill a wide range of specifications, and give adequate security.

In large outsourcing contracts, the cost of leasing computers is only about 17 percent of total cost, and bandwidth is only about 5 percent to 6 percent of the bill, said Daniel Porter, the Navy's chief information officer. 'Most of the money is touch labor and help desk' costs, so Navy officials want to greatly lower those expenses through NMCI.

In the Army, officials will focus on expanding the Army Knowledge Online project. AKO is a Web portal developed by SRA International Inc. of Arlington, Va., with an Infoseek Infosearch engine.

Ultimately, the Army expects that AKO will expand from 27,000 users to more than 50,000 users, said Miriam Browning, the service's director of information management.

'Knowledge that's in a soldier's hand is just as important as a tank or a rifle,' Browning said.

The portal, which users access via NIPRnet, lets users customize their information needs to include news on their military occupation specialties, weather updates and favorite Army organizations, Browning said.

'When we put our programs and services online, we get it out to [all] 10,000 people, rather than just 20 major commands' which may or may not forward the information to the right people, she said.

The service's five-year project calls for all of the Army to use the AKO project by 2005. The program received $8 million in fiscal 2000 funding, Browning said.

Meanwhile, in the Air Force, Standard Systems Group officials at Gunter Annex-Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., this year expect to continue their efforts to create specialized buying vehicles. During the coming year, the SSG officials will concentrate on electronic records management and network management contracts.

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