- By Dan Verton
- Mar 05, 2000
After 12 years as the Interceptor and FCW's senior Defense Department reporter,
Bob Brewin has pulled up stakes in search of a fresh reporting beat.
An old-school wire service reporter and fellow Marine, Brewin crafted
the Intercepts column into a vehicle for exposing the truth about the business
of federal information technology. In Brewin's spirit of fairness, I take
over as the Interceptor. Whether you're involved in DOD or civilian agency
programs, I encourage you to keep the Intercepts flowing to [email protected]
— Dan Verton
A DOD official involved in the planning of the National Capital Region
Metropolitan Area Network project, worth an estimated $500 million, recently
characterized the effort as 15,000 randomly built circuits with "no rhyme,
no reason, no control [and] no security." To refocus the program, the Defense
Information Systems Agency has renamed the program the Communications Readiness
Unfortunately, unlike its new name, the project is not ready, as DISA has
conceded that there's no way it can wire all 400 DOD sites throughout the
Washington, D.C., area. As a result, rumor has it that the term "readiness"
is being redefined in all Pentagon publications to mean "at least 60 percent."
The Pentagon's top brass have earned a new moniker: Bandwidth Bandits.
The regional commanders in chief recently told the Joint Chiefs they need
at least 102 megabits of bandwidth capacity to handle voice, video and data
transmissions in the event of a major theater war, such as the recent Kosovo
operation. The existing Defense Satellite Communications System, a major
part of DOD's global communications backbone, can muster only 45 megabits/sec
through its lone X-band link. Fortunately, about $22 million is left from
the Kosovo contingency fund, which DISA plans to tap to buy additional C-band
and Ku-band upgrades for the satellites. By press time, however, my E-ring
listening post was buzzing with word that the CINCs already had revised
their bandwidth demand: It's at 722 megabits/sec and climbing.
As the E-World Turns
Just when the Air Force's Standard Systems Group thought it had electronic
commerce under control, here comes another "standard way to do business."
Lt. Gen. William Donahue, the Air Force director of communications,
held a three-star-only meet- ing last week with the Air Combat Command's
chief information officer and SSG's deputy director, Ken Heitcamp. The subject
was the overwhelming success of ACC-Way, a new ACC-sponsored IT e-commerce
ACC-Way not only has tapped into the vendor pool used by SSG's Commercial
Information Technology product team (owner of the popular Information Technology
Tools 2 contract), it also has shaved an extra 15 percent to 20 percent
off the deals negotiated by SSG with the same vendors.
My signals indicate that Donahue has hinted at consolidating the two
organizations. Keep a lookout for deals that are guaranteed to bring tears
to your IT supplier's eyes.
Evidence is pouring in that the Fortezza crypto card, once pegged as
the security solution to end all security solutions, may be so slow that
you can catch a few Zs while it processes your data. But at $69 dollars
each, Fortezza cards also are a bit too expensive, said one captain of military
e-business. That's one of the reasons DOD is pouring $140 million into its
Common Access Card program, hoping to find an alternative in smart cards.
Sources say the technology revolution will soon deliver a 32K-capacity smart
card equipped with a crypto co-processor for six bucks apiece.