GovNet Draws Fire

John Stenbit, the Defense Department's chief information officer, is not a fan of GovNet, a proposed critical infrastructure intranet.

During a presentation at the Milcom conference in Vienna, Va., Stenbit was asked about his views on the proposed intranet, the brainchild of Richard Clarke, adviser to the president on cyberspace security. Although Stenbit quickly noted that his views were not to be taken as official, he went on to question the usefulness of GovNet.

The IP network would be a government-only network isolated from the viruses, worms and other attacks moving through the public Internet. Information on GovNet would be shared only by authorized users and would have no connections to the Internet or other networks. Stenbit is a major proponent of network-centric operations, or creating networks that enable more rapid movement of information. So he questioned whether an all-government network fits in a network-centric world. "This doesn't do anything I said. Therefore, I'm against it," he said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee, said he has asked the General Accounting Office to review the request for information for GovNet to ensure it has a sound business plan with realistic goals.

Something of this size needs to be monitored carefully, he said during a speech Oct. 25 at the Coalition for Government Procurement's fall conference in Arlington, Va.

Can't Everyone Just Play Nice?

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the intelligence community needs "major reform" because the culture that has been in place since the 1950s won't work in the future.

"If we're going to reach our vision, it can't be business as usual. We have to get outside our comfort zone." He added that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has discussed this issue with CIA Director George Tenet.

One issue is DOD's role in the event of a cyberattack vs. the role of the intelligence community. Myers said the old knock was that the FBI was only interested in getting enough information to prosecute someone in court. However, that has changed, and the FBI is "much more oriented to prevention," which is in line with Myers' view that the government should "take the fight to the enemy."

Myers said it will be up to Office of Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge to give the Defense and intelligence communities a better idea of who is in charge and then establish the proper legal authority to go after the bad guys.

Is NMCI Passe?

There was a day when a conference session on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet would draw a standing-room-only crowd. Well, times seem to have changed.

An NMCI briefing at Milcom Oct. 30 drew only about two dozen people and only two reporters.

Rick Rosenburg, NMCI program executive for lead contractor Electronic Data Systems Corp., even noted the change.

The shift, he said, is an indication that the NMCI concept — buying an information technology infrastructure as an overall service rather than purchasing items individually — is passe.

"People are beginning to see this as a way of doing business," Rosenburg said. "The questions are more about how to do this, not about whether to do it."

But other agencies are sitting back and watching NMCI to determine its eventual success or failure. The consensus after one year is that it is just too early to tell.

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About the Authors

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine,, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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