Treasury flips switch on $425M communications system

The Treasury Department switched off its 12-year-old Consolidated Data Network (CDN) telecommunications system Wednesday morning completing its cut-over to the new Treasury Communications System (TCS) run by TRW Inc.

Immediate changes to the Treasury-wide network are limited to advanced network management services said Wushow "Bill" Chou Treasury's deputy assistant secretary for information systems. New capabilities will be added gradually he said.

Charles Dubay Treasury's assistant director of telecommunications said that between October and January TRW will begin to replace the switches in the existing network with high-speed routers from Cisco Systems Inc. according to user requirements. By late spring the department will begin to install an Asynchronous Transfer Mode backbone to replace the frame-relay and circuit-switched network that comprises CDN.

In addition Treasury plans for the first time to charge agencies based on their usage of the network Dubay said. He said the department expects to have metering services in place in time to begin planning the fiscal 1998 budget.

The 10-year $425 million TCS contract calls for TRW to provide desktop- to-desktop data services for the entire department. The planned high-speed networks will support applications that include upgraded electronic mail electronic commerce security services and videoconferencing. The network will use the FTS 2000 system to carry its long-distance traffic.

By 2000 TCS is expected to transport about 700G a day-more than twice the traffic that CDN carried in its last few months. Treasury attributes this projected growth to the proliferation of local- area networks increased use of imaging technology and growing use of notebook computers by employees requiring remote access among other factors.

Dubay said Treasury bureaus have started or planned tests of several new network applications including collaborative computing electronic ordering and expanded Internet services.

In addition to Treasury traffic a portion of the network may be used by other federal agencies and possibly state governments. Dubay said Treasury is now exploring an arrangement under which the Justice Department might buy TCS services and would entertain proposals from other agencies.

However he said "I don't expect we will be actively involved in any franchising 'til we get a good handle on what Treasury requirements are." He added that the greatest potential for shared access to TCS would be among agencies that have related missions "but if you look at the breadth and scope of the Treasury Department everyone has a community of interest."

Chou said Treasury plans to apply new performance-based contracting techniques to the TCS pact. "Vendors are being rewarded if they save us money " he said.

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