DOD raises DTS red flag

DOD raises DTS red flag

DOD's Paul Brubaker says DTS must mesh with other PKI efforts

Pentagon senior systems brass, concerned in part that the Defense Travel System's public-key infrastructure component might not mesh with other Defense Department PKI initiatives, have placed DTS on their watch list.

The program was designed to meet a particular goal without considering wider Defense Department business needs, said Paul Brubaker, acting deputy assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications and intelligence.

That goal, implementation of a paperless travel system, is admirable, but DTS must be compatible with other systems initiatives, he said. Brubaker, who is DOD's acting deputy chief information officer, spoke last month at the Defense@E-Business conference.

Officials in the Office of the Secretary of Defense want to make sure DTS 'fits and makes sense' with the PKI and electronic-signature standards DOD is implementing, said Rex Bolton, a computer specialist in OSD's CIO Office. Bolton receives DTS quarterly reports and information briefings from the system's program executive officer, Army Col. Albert E. Arnold III.

'When we began work on it, DOD had no PKI standard,' Bolton said. 'There was no way of issuing and managing certificates.'

Arnold, who will soon leave his post, said the system will meet DOD's needs and standards. 'The concept behind the Defense Travel System has been emphatically proven to be the right thing for DOD,' Arnold said. 'We believe that the end-to-end system is not outmoded.'

To figure out DTS requirements, DOD ran 27 pilot projects before awarding TRW Inc. the $267 million DTS contract in May 1998, Arnold said.

And though the system is behind schedule, the program office this fall plans to begin a departmentwide deployment.

'We are about a year behind where we thought we should be,' Arnold said. 'But our customers will get a quality product, one they will like and be able to use.'

The CIO staff is still refining the department's PKI and digital signature standards, so delays in the program might be beneficial, Bolton said.

Arnold blamed the delays primarily on the complexity of integrating existing systems and a protest from Electronic Data Systems Corp. of the DTS contract. Because of EDS' complaint to the General Accounting Office, DOD and TRW did not begin work under the contract until October 1998, Arnold said.

Through the DTS effort, the department wants to automate all travel-related documentation and to merge multiple travel services into a single system with one interface for all Defense users. But DTS will not be a DOD-owned system. Instead, the department is buying a travel service, Arnold said.

The department will pay a per-transaction fee for the 5.9 million travel transactions that DOD makes each year. DOD has not paid TRW for its systems development work.

Following the rules

The software interface TRW has created 'knows the myriad of government travel regulations,' such as per diem rates for particular cities and government travel entitlements, said Rich Fabbre, DTS program manager at TRW. It also takes into account discounts the government negotiates with commercial airlines, he said.

Through its eight-year contract, TRW will roll out a system that protects the sensitive but unclassified personal and financial data of an estimated 3.2 million users, he said.

DOD expects the full DTS deployment to take three years, Arnold said. DOD organizations have more than 60 current travel services contracts. As each one expires, the organizations will convert to DTS, he said.

Defense Region VI, which covers 11 states in the upper Midwest and has been testing DTS prototypes, will implement DTS first, Arnold said.

Fabbre estimated that DOD would send 10,000 personnel to receive DTS training, which will include both in-class instruction and computer-based courseware. Those 10,000 users then would help train users at their installations, he said.

TRW will run DTS under SunSoft Solaris 2.6 on a redundant cluster of Sun Microsystems Enterprise 6000 servers. The system will stow data in an Oracle8 Release 8.1.6 database and use a modified version of Travel Manager from Gelco Information Network Inc. of Minneapolis.

TRW has modified the Travel Manager software by adding Digital Signature Standard interfaces as well as interfaces to leading travel reservation systems. Scores of systems inside and outside of DOD will interface with DTS.

'Within DOD, the system will interface with over 40 accounting and disbursing systems, the Defense table of official distances, per diem rates, a digital repository for records management and management information, the DOD public-key infrastructure, all using the Non-Classified IP Router Network,' Arnold said. The Defense table of official distances lets users compute mileage between sites for their expense reports.

Arnold acknowledged that DOD is out ahead of the department's PKI and digital signature efforts. 'We have no place to go for lessons learned' in government or industry for digitally signed, archived records or large-scale PKI deployments, Arnold said.

But DOD cannot afford to wait any longer to automate its travel processes, Arnold said. The process of approving travel, buying tickets, making reservations, getting expenses paid and getting signatures for travel approval is mostly done on paper, he said.

The only paperless aspect of the current process is Defense Finance and Accounting Service software that automatically pays travel vouchers, he said.

DTS will mark the first widespread PKI use within DOD, Arnold said. To meet security requirements, Defense travelers and supervisors will digitally sign all travel requests, payment approvals and expense claims, he said.

All DTS users and administrators will employ their digital signatures to log on to DTS, Arnold said, which will provide better security than the typical user name and password log-ons.

Keys of the kingdom

TRW subcontractor KyberPass Corp. of Nepean, Ontario, is providing the PKI software for DTS, Arnold said. The KyberWin program affixes digital signatures to each log-on, as well as to each transaction, he said.

For the DTS archive, the department's regional Defense Manpower Data Centers will use the KyberPass software to validate signatures in trip records when the centers accept them for permanent storage.

The centers will also provide the end-user link to the TRW systems. Travelers, supervisors and travel administrators will establish a single-session virtual private network link between their desktop PCs and servers at the regional data centers, Arnold said.

Meanwhile, Arnold is also planning a change in command in the DTS shop. His replacement, Air Force Col. Pamela Arias, the 96th Support Group commander for the 96th Air Base Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will take over management of the program on May 27. Arnold said he would stay on for a brief transition period to prevent any complications.

Arnold, a 27-year service veteran, has been in his post since October 1995. He reports to the deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

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