Treasury prepares to converge its networks

Treasury prepares to converge its networks

The Treasury Department has mapped out the stages for building a departmentwide digital communications infrastructure by the end of the decade.

The Treasury Communications Enterprise, a single utility for voice, data, video and wireless services, will replace a number of current networks and programs'chiefly the Treasury Communication System. Government-owned equipment and aging X.25 networks will give way to a portfolio of services.

Patrick N. Hargett, director of customer service infrastructure and operations, said the first request for proposals will go out this fall for the Voice Messaging System. Bridge contracts will replace existing contracts as separately managed programs collapse into the initial TCE over the next three years.

By 2005, there will be two consolidated communications networks: one for voice, video and data and one for wireless. They will converge over the succeeding five years.

TCE will be an intelligent optical transport network with a single interface and centralized management, Hargett said. It will replace stovepipe systems and client-server applications at the 14 bureaus and 10 departmental offices.

Service problems

TCS is the government's largest civilian network, with 170,000 users, 10,500 circuits, 5,000 routers and 3,000 end points. But its service falls short of expectations, according to a Treasury review conducted last year.

Inaccurate billing and inconsistent service levels have been problems since the 10-year TCS contract was awarded in 1995, according to the review by the IRS, Treasury's inspector general and the tax administration IG.

Inadequate lines of communication between the program office, contractor TRW Inc. and the users have 'left most bureaus feeling they are not getting a return on their investment,' the report concluded.

TCE will also absorb other programs:

  • The Voice Messaging System

  • The Digital Telecommunications System, which provides 35,000 subscriber lines'28,000 of them digital'as well as videoconferencing and connections to outside networks and to the Voice Messaging System in the Washington area

  • The Treasury Telecommunications System, which has 60,000 users at 140 locations

  • Several wireless programs.

    Verizon Communications Inc. of New York last year received a five-year contract to develop the Digital Telecommunications Switching System 2, which will serve as a foundation for much of TCE.
  • About the Author

    William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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