Department is building on LAN plan

Department is building on LAN plan


The Herbert Clark Hoover Building, which houses Commerce Department headquarters, soon will be wired for more than sound.

Michael Nimmons works at the network console of Commerce's STAT-USA project, which will be upgraded by a rewiring project.
The department is in the midst of a $4 million upgrade to its headquarters that will refurbish the 69-year-old structure with new cable and a brand new network infrastructure, said Karen F. Hogan, acting deputy chief information officer and director of the Digital Department Program.

Commerce awarded the contract for the work on April 30, and contractors immediately began planning how to replace the miles of cable that wind through the Depression-era building, said Dorbi Sullivan, director of the department's Telecommunications Management Division. Sullivan is managing the installation.

The upgrade of Commerce headquarters was to be the first step in former Secretary William M. Daley's Digital Department initiative. Although some work not tied to funding continued under Hogan's guidance after Daley left last year, the upgrade of the building's infrastructure had to wait for Congress to approve the cost.

Contractors are completing the final design for the upgrade, Sullivan said. Yet, the structure itself daunts engineers working to determine how best to install the cable. And an upcoming renovation of the building by the General Services Administration is causing contractors to double-check their plans.

'We are looking to actually begin installing all new cable in mid-July,' Sullivan said. 'But we are going to do as much as we can on the outside. We don't want anything that we are doing now undone when GSA does its restoration.'

Who's In Charge

Tom Pyke

Acting Chief Information Officer and CIO, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Karen F. Hogan

Deputy CIO

Richard Swartz

Acting associate director for information technology, Census Bureau

Douglas Bourgeois

CIO, Patent and Trademark Office

Bernie McMahon

Director for Information Resources Management, International Trade Administration

Shukri Wakid

CIO, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Top Contractors

Lockheed Martin Corp.$137.5
Electronic Data Systems Corp.$79.9
IBM Corp.$28.7
Emhart Corp.$27.8
Northrop Grumman Corp.$24.5
RS Information Systems$24.0
GTSI Corp.$22.5
Comark Government and Education$20.0
Computer Sciences Corp.$18.0
Computer Based Systems Inc.$14.9

Source: Commerce Department and Input of Chantilly, Va.
When the plan is complete and contractors are ready to begin installing Category 5E cable'which meets the latest standard approved for cabling'they will converge on the structure, which covers eight acres and three city blocks, with up to four teams of workers at a time, she said.

Commerce employees will experience the upgrade in person. Unlike the Defense Department, which relocated workers to speed the renovation of the Pentagon, Commerce plans to move no one during the yearlong project, Sullivan said.

Instead, crews will work 10- to 12-hour shifts Wednesday through Saturday nights to cause as little disruption as possible.

At first, contractors thought the building might not be grounded properly for modern electricity use, Hogan said. But, further inspection indicates that grounding isn't a problem.

'They are having to check the grounding to see if we are covered,' Sullivan said. 'But everyone has been operating OK so far, so it seems to indicate that if there is a grounding issue, it isn't very serious.'

When the crews swoop down into the building's six miles of corridors, they will simultaneously install new cable and upgrade the network infrastructure at the Bureau of Exports Administration, Sullivan said.

Working with several bureau CIOs to avoid interrupting personnel as much as possible, contractors will make the department's current 14 Ethernet LANs disappear by consolidating them into one network.

Servers of all sizes

The 14 LANs, which serve about 4,000 users, operate on individual servers of various models and sizes, depending on the needs of each bureau, a Commerce spokesman said. Officials are uncertain whether they'll be able to use one or more of the existing servers to run the new LAN or if they'll need a new machine. Cable for the new LAN will be installed while all of the original LANs, except the network at Bureau of Exports Administration, continue operation.

After the cable is installed, Commerce officials will figure out the best way to switch the remaining 13 groups to the new backbone, which will reach roughly 5,000 end-user connections.

'We will have virtual LANs,' Sullivan said. 'The plan is that all operating units will come onto the new network infrastructure.' Officials are still deciding what hardware will make up the backbone, a department spokesman said.

Cable supporting the old LANs will remain in place and will most likely be removed when GSA renovates the building, a Commerce spokesman said.

One LAN for all

As the department moves to consolidate its 14 LANs to one, managers at headquarters are worried about who will oversee the new network and what will happen to the other administrators, Hogan said.

LAN managers facing the problem have formed groups to investigate ways to deal with the consolidation, she said.


' Next-Generation Weather Radar. Commerce expects to spend $28 million to develop advanced short-term warning and forecast services. In fiscal 2001, the department will deploy 15 percent of its Radar Product Generator systems to improve detection of small tornadoes. The following year, the remaining systems will be deployed to better observe tornadoes and hailstorms.

' High-performance computing. Over the next two years, the department will spend $33 million on computing to expand its short-term warning and forecast services and enhance long-term climate forecasts. In fiscal 2001, the department plans to spend $15 million for Phase 1 of the program, which will improve hurricane forecasting. The following year, the systems will begin to incorporate ocean observations in climate models.

' Core Commerce Administrative Management System. Commerce will invest $87 million over the next two years in its financial management systems. In fiscal 2001 it will implement new systems in nine bureaus, and in fiscal 2002, new systems will go online in 11 bureaus.

' Decennial Data Capture System 2000. About $44 million will go to Census 2000 over the next two years as results of the annual count go to statisticians. Pass 2 data capture operations for the count will likely be completed on time this year. The bureau will archive Census 2000 data during fiscal 2002 at a cost of $10 million.


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