- By George I. Seffers
- Oct 02, 2000
Statements from on high that say that the Defense Message System officially
came online Sept. 15 don't necessarily make it so.
The $1.6 billion DMS is intended to provide secure mult-imedia messaging
and directory service desktop-to- desktop throughout the military. It is
also meant to modernize command and control messaging by allowing multimedia
Pentagon officials had issued guidance that by Sept. 15 all general
service messages classified top secret and below would be transmitted via
DMS. When the date arrived, the Pentagon declared DMS to be officially online
as the replacement for the aging Automatic Digital Network System. However,
the Interceptor has heard from several would-be DMS users who were a little
surprised and very miffed to hear that DMS had officially replaced Autodin.
The general response? "Not in my workplace."
Republicans = Security
Want your military networks secure? Vote Republican. That was the message,
intentional or not, from a high-ranking Defense Department information technology
official. During the E-Gov Information Assurance Conference last week in
Alexandria, Va., Margaret Myers, described by a Pentagon staffer as a deputy
to the Pentagon's deputy chief information officer, discussed the dismal
grades recently handed out by Rep. Stephen Horn (R-Calif.). Myers said Rep.
Jim Turner (D-Texas) and Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), the two leading candidates
to replace Horn as chairman of the Government Management, Information and
Technology Subcommittee, have both sponsored legislation to establish a
federal chief information officer. She stressed the need for government
leaders aware of information assurance issues, adding, "I think I can guarantee
you all that if the Republicans retain control of the House and if we have
a Republican administration...the grades will go up."
N/MCI Winner Awash in Red Ink
According to an encrypted message that was passed through the Interceptor's
Batman decoder ring, the winning N/MCI contractor might have to go a few
dollars in debt before taking advantage of its $16 billion windfall.
The message indicates that the winner will face "a sea of red ink for
at least the first two years of the program and have stringent service-level
agreements to live up to." A service-level agreement is a contracting tool
keyed to a client's service performance expectations. The buyer and seller
determine upfront which services and performance levels will be provided,
as well as the metrics by which those capabilities will be measured. Meeting
or beating those expectations earns providers a financial reward; failing
to meet expectations results in earning less money for that performance
period. And that's a good thing?
Spectrum Never Dies
Following the demise of Iridium, the Defense Department is looking for
a new provider of satellite telephone services.
Service could potentially be provided by Globalstar LLP, but some fear
that could pose a spectrum interference problem. Globalstar broadcasts its
communications signals too close for comfort to the military's Global Positioning
System signal, which it uses to guide missiles and aircraft as well as find
troops in the field.
When the satellite phone is turned on, signal power increases as the
receiver tries to get a satellite fix. Ones it locks on, the power goes
down. The problem is minimal if precautions are taken, said one science
and technology policy analyst, but DOD doesn't want to shoot itself in the
Besides, the Pentagon still owns a useless Iridium gateway, and Globalstar
won't solve that problem.
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