DHS network may link to others

Homeland Security Department officials are considering using the classified network they are developing to link state and local governments as well as federal civilian agencies, a top official said today.

Steve Cooper, the chief information officer for DHS, speaking at an industry breakfast sponsored by National Business Promotions & Conferences, Inc., said that discussions are underway to make multiple uses of the Homeland Secure Data Network (HSDN), which is being built under a $350 million contract awarded to Northrop Grumman Corp. in April.

He likened the idea to the Defense Department's classified Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNET). He said there likely would be gateways between the civilian and defense networks if the idea proves feasible.

Copper said information sharing is one of the most important mandates for DHS and that it includes making sure 56 states and territories are hooked up by the end of this year. Cooper has previously said that DHS officials had set an aggressive goal to move from multiple information technology networks to one by December.

Sharing information "is a big deal," Cooper said. "It is going to expand."

In other areas, Cooper said:

The CIO Council is prepared to respond if they are asked for comments by the 9-11 Commission that recently issued their report on whether the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks could have been prevented.

Department officials are working on tightening security and training workers to make sure they know how to handle security issues. They also are using a digital tool that monitors who has been trained.

DHS soon will release a draft request for proposals to help move the department to one infrastructure.

DHS Enterprise Architecture 2.0 is likely to be released in September.

Cooper is working to deal with what he called a bandwidth challenge that includes greater compression of data. DHS officials are moving data over "not very up-to-date networks."

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