Justice plans new network, PKI

Justice plans new network, PKI

The Justice Department intends to consolidate its data networks and implement a public-key infrastructure, according to a plan it issued Friday.

Attorney general John Ashcroft has approved the plan and the department will begin implementing it immediately, said Andy Anderson, special assistant to Justice CIO Vance Hitch.

The department's IT Strategic Plan points out that Justice runs more than 250 systems, most of them legacy applications developed by component organizations to meet specific needs.

'This approach has introduced an unnecessary level of cost, complexity and risk, and inadvertently created technical barriers to sharing information,' the plan said. To impose order on the department's IT, the plan proposes adopting an infrastructure architecture to assure interoperability and create technical standards for Justice systems.

The proposed single, national data network would replace existing systems such as the Justice Consolidated Network, which relies on Sprint Corp.'s public-switched backbone. According to the plan, the department operates a potpourri of networks to serve its components around the nation and the headquarters in Washington region.

The new network would use TCP/IP. 'It will emphasize promoting information sharing, providing enhanced security across the board and ensuring continuity of network operations,' the plan said. An appendix to the plan recommended that Justice outsource the operation of the new network.

To improve systems security, the department has developed a database that tracks the remediation of security weaknesses, the plan said. 'This database is a single repository of findings and corrective actions identified through the component certification and accreditation activities, [inspector general] audits, penetration testing and other reviews (including the self-assessments required under the Government Information Security Reform Act).'

The plan for a PKI calls for Justice to implement the technology to strengthen security and promote information sharing across organizational boundaries. The PKI initiative also would promote the department's e-government plans by establishing a framework for communicating with law enforcement agencies across federal, state and local governments.

'A departmentwide PKI effort will ensure consistency in approach, minimize duplication of effort, and reduce requirements for cross component verification and validation,' the plan said.

The plan also endorses common systems for use departmentwide where duplicate systems serve similar needs, a strategy for business process re-engineering, an e-government plan, a strengthened role for the department's CIO and a IT work force plan.

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