Diplomacy to adopt Web protocols

Diplomacy to adopt Web protocols


The State Department will move to complete installation of modern classified LANs at 260 embassies and consulates in 169 countries and give half its diplomatic service staff Internet access within two years.

width="210">The plan, however, depends on Bush administration budget proposals now before Congress.

The upgrades, which are key to diplomatic missions, follow continued efforts to integrate sensitive but unclassified systems that have access to the department's intranet, said Fernando Burbano, State's chief information officer.

'You can understand that we don't manufacture widgets,' Burbano said. 'Our responsibility is to collect information, and now that the U.S. Information Agency has migrated to the State Department, it is our job to disseminate information globally and instantly, and to do it in a collaborative way.'

Internet access for all

That will require a better information technology infrastructure, he said.


face="Arial,Helvetica,Geneva" size="2" color="#FF0000">'Our responsibility is to collect information, and now that the U.S. Information Agency has migrated to the State Department it is our job to disseminate information globally and instantly, and to do it in a collaborative way.'
'CIO Fernando BurbanoIn April testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary, State Secretary Colin L. Powell said Bush had tagged $210 million to bring the department in line with current technology.

'I want every employee in the Department of State, no matter where they are located throughout the world, to have access to the Internet, access to the power of the information revolution, so that they can get their jobs done in a more efficient way,' Powell told lawmakers. 'We also want to modernize our classified information systems.'

Those upgrades would bring a new spate of security problems, Burbano said.

Who's In Charge

Fernando Burbano

Chief Information Officer and Assistant
Secretary for IRM

Patricia Popovich

Deputy CIO for Management and
Customer Service

Bruce Morrison

Deputy CIO for Operations

Roy Standing

Deputy CIO for Architecture, Planning
and Regulatory Affairs

Anthony Muse

Deputy CIO for Foreign Affairs and Systems Integration, and Chief Knowledge Officer

Top Contractors

STG Inc.20.7
WorldCom Inc.20.0
Northrop Grumman Corp.14.2
GTSI Corp.12.3
Motorola Inc.11.6
Orkand Corp.10.4
RDR Inc.9.9
AT&T Corp.9.3
Computer Sciences Corp.8.3

Sources for Inside State include the State Department and Input of Chantilly, Va.
To protect its unclassified systems, State is turning to additional security measures such as public-key infrastructure, which the department is testing, Burbano said. The department is also studying smart cards, biometric authentication and other types of authentication systems, Burbano said.

State suffered security embarrassments last year when a notebook computer containing classified information disappeared, and when the department had to remove software from 170 systems after discovering the program had been written by citizens of the former Soviet Union [GCN, May 22, 2000, Page 3].

Few if any employees in the diplomatic service have access to the Internet, Burbano said. They can only access the department's intranet, which provides e-mail service, he said.

'We are going to go on all those desktops'and there are over 30,000 desktops'and we are going to give them access to the Internet,' Burbano said. 'The money will go not only for providing that, but also for the additional security that is needed.'

The $210 million IT boost Bush proposed for the department's fiscal 2002 budget would let State upgrade quickly, Burbano said.

Significant budget hike

The increase in the State budget, a significant jump in spending specifically targeting the department's two major projects, indicates Powell's high standing in the Bush administration, industry analysts have said [GCN, April 16, Page 7].

If the budget proposal doesn't pass Congress, Burbano said, department officials must continue funding the initiative with what he calls 'Peter and Paul money'''funds borrowed from other obligations.

The attitude toward refreshing the department's technology is a far cry from the mind-set that drove the diplomatic service to use 20-year-old Wang computers, as it did when Burbano joined the department, he said.

Previous administrations didn't include funds for upgrading technology, and the aging computers were never replaced, he said. Much of the work toward upgrading the department's systems came after Burbano joined State and began looking for ways to fund new technology, he said.

'The budgets we are proposing now include funds to refresh the equipment so that we don't end up with another 20-year cycle,' Burbano said. 'That not only includes the hardware and software, but the bandwidth as well, which a lot of people overlook. I mean, you can't access the Web without proper bandwidth.'

The budget proposals also include funds for training, he said.

Major Programs
' Modernization. By October, the State Department hopes to have upgraded the unclassified infrastructure at 25 percent of its posts worldwide, and by October 2002, at 50 percent of its posts. State intends to deploy hardware and software needed for overseas Internet access via the unclassified network at all posts.

' Classified connectivity program. The modernized classified systems infrastructure will be installed at 37 overseas posts by the fall. Classified systems will be upgraded and office automation equipment installed at 95 other State posts by October 2002.

' E-mail operations. State is upgrading its e-mail capabilities worldwide, including operation, support and network protection. Next year, the department plans to improve its e-mail virus detection capability and to upgrade firewalls.

' Enterprise network management. By the fall, the department plans to have a round-the-clock, three-tier network management system in place for its unclassified IP networks, to have consolidated its IP network management and to have upgraded its system management tools worldwide. The department plans to offer round-the-clock network management for all its departments' IP infrastructure networks by October 2002.


  • Records management: Look beyond the NARA mandates

    Pandemic tests electronic records management

    Between the rush enable more virtual collaboration, stalled digitization of archived records and managing records that reside in datasets, records management executives are sorting through new challenges.

  • boy learning at home (Travelpixs/Shutterstock.com)

    Tucson’s community wireless bridges the digital divide

    The city built cell sites at government-owned facilities such as fire departments and libraries that were already connected to Tucson’s existing fiber backbone.

Stay Connected