GovNet's future is still unclear

GovNet's future is still unclear

Sandra Bates

GovNet, the proposed secure intranet for mission-critical agency communications, has drawn 169 responses to a request for information.

But there is no timetable for moving on to the next phase, said Sandra Bates, commissioner of the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service.

The initial feasibility assessment was wrapped up March 2, Bates said last month at the Federal Telecommunications Conference in Reston, Va., hosted by TeleStrategies Inc. of McLean, Va.

The National Security Council and the Office of Homeland Security asked GSA to solicit and evaluate the comments.

Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting of Jenkintown, Pa., criticized the administration's reluctance to commit to GovNet, for which the president's fiscal 2003 budget proposal allotted $5 million for a feasibility study.

'GovNet, presented to us as the government's first-line response post-9-11, may turn into a shaggy dog story rather than a real opportunity,' Suss said.

The initial proposal was too narrowly defined, he said, without interagency or intergovernmental connections.

Worse, Suss said, 'the government hinted that a significant chunk of GovNet costs would be taken from existing agency budgets.' He said money-starved agencies 'perceived it from the outset as a bitter pill to be delayed or avoided.'

But Bates said it is better to leave GovNet open to a course change than to commit to a course of action too quickly.

She said GovNet, if adopted, would proceed in five phases. After initial assessment, the next step would be requirements development, then a program strategy. The fourth phase would be service acquisition, and the final phase, implementation and operation.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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