Intercepts

Semper Fi

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 antenna@fcw.com.

— Dan Verton

MetroNet Congestion?

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

Project.

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."

Bandwidth Bandits

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

portal.

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.

Fortezzzzzzzzza

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.

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