A Network Of Networks

Homeland Security's network project seeks to close communication and interoperability gaps
In addition to BearingPoint, subcontractors include Level 3, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and SRA International. Raytheon's Secure Information Systems unit will provide firewalls, antivirus software, and cryptographic, intrusion-detection, and operating-system-hardening technology, says Bart Abbott, Raytheon's director of federal and Defense Department government programs. It also will manage and monitor security components.

BearingPoint will develop an enterprise architecture; Northrop Grumman will build the network backbone; Lockheed Martin will connect and support remote offices; Level 3 Communications will implement MPLS and provide the telecommunications infrastructure; and SRA will handle state and local integration.

Homeland Security employees using the network initially will have two computers: one connected to the new secure network and another connected to the existing network for unclassified communications. They may eventually move to one interface, though the two network infrastructures will remain separate, Holcomb says.

The network will replace legacy systems throughout Homeland Security. This is critical, as the Navy and Marine Corps discovered when they hired EDS to build an integrated, secure intranet. EDS launched the project 3-1/2 years ago and is about halfway finished, after initially projecting that it would be completed last year. Delays came, in part, from legacy applications too outdated to run on the new intranet but too valuable to be disposed of.

Homeland Security is hoping to skirt this and other problems associated with past network-integration efforts. As last week's hearings showed, the implications are too significant to let that happen again.

-- with Larry Kahaner