Commerce awards telecom deal

The Commerce Department has awarded a $6 million telecommunications infrastructure support contract to Computer & Hi-tech Management Inc. — a major step in moving the department's e-government plan forward.

Under the contract, awarded Monday, the company will rewire the Commerce headquarters building in Washington, D.C., with fiber-optic cabling capable of carrying voice, video and data traffic. The building covers about 1.8 million square feet, or the equivalent of three city blocks, and houses nearly 4,000 employees.

Creating a telecommunications infrastructure will allow it to effectively support its digital department concept launched by former Secretary William Daley two years ago. The infrastructure will also help it meet the requirements of the Government Paperwork Elimination Act, according to the department. Daley said at the time that Commerce would become an all-digital department by 2002.

Currently, networks within the headquarters building are isolated from one another and there is no guarantee they will interoperate. Also, not all of the cabling or networking equipment terminates or is housed in wiring closets. That creates a significant security risk, as well as a safety concern. The voice infrastructure is in better shape but is still outdated.

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