Homeland Security Network Advances Even As Congress Intelligence Bill Stalls - InformationWeek

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Homeland Security Network Advances Even As Congress Intelligence Bill Stalls

The Homeland Security Department is making progress on its 'network of networks' for information sharing, moving into the testing and accreditation phase.

As the president, members of Congress, and the Pentagon clash over legislation that would create a national intelligence director with the authority to direct intelligence sharing and at least some portion of the intelligence budget, the Homeland Security Department is moving forward with its plans to create a data network accessible to intelligence analysts and law enforcement across federal, state, and local boundaries.

Homeland Security is moving into the testing and accreditation phase of its Homeland Secure Data Network, first introduced in April. The secure network, which could cost up to $350 million to create, will initially connect Homeland Security intelligence personnel with the Defense Department's Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET) to send and receive information with classified security levels.

Initiatives also are under way to next year connect Homeland Security, the Defense Department, and areas within the FBI and the greater intelligence community, including the CIA, via the Homeland Secure Data Network. "Our general goal will be to create a shared space among our federal networks, but we aren't there yet," a senior Homeland Security official says in an E-mail interview.

If the Homeland Secure Data Network gets up and running, this network of networks would let analysts search a variety of intelligence databases, with specific access dependent upon the individual's level of security clearance, the official says. The network will use multiprotocol label switching, which runs over IP-based networks, to tag data as it enters the network and let administrators set up logical networks that can have different levels of security.

The Homeland Secure Data Network, which is being designed and built by Northrop Grumman Corp. with assistance from BearingPoint, Level 3 Communications, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and SRA International, will by the end of 2006 be extended out to serve state and local agencies charged with homeland security.

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