NSA Breaks Ground

The National Security Agency's $2 billion Groundbreaker project is still on track, despite NSA's war footing after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the agency's chief information officer said.

The multibillion-dollar outsourcing contract encompasses most of NSA's internal computer systems, including software and support services, telephone services, desktop computing hardware and information technology security. NSA's mission-critical systems — those that manage classified information — are not included.

Although he was short on specifics, NSA CIO Richard Turner, speaking at a breakfast sponsored by Federal Sources Inc., said Groundbreaker is moving forward.

Groundbreaker is being spearheaded by Eagle Alliance, a vendor team led by Computer Sciences Corp.

Turner said that NSA is continuing its transformation efforts even as the war on terrorism continues.

Times have changed, he noted. "I became a wartime CIO very quickly," he said.

When asked about the efforts to share information governmentwide, or even among intelligence and defense organizations, Turner acknowledged that NSA is re-evaluating how it does business.

"Information sharing is a work in progress," he said.

The agency is now working with agencies whose IT systems are not secure enough to handle NSA's classified information, he said.

NSA is also spending more on IT and is increasingly moving to using commercial hardware and software, Turner said. NSA has traditionally built its own systems.

Navy Networks on Command

What do Navy submarines and Navy networks now have in common? They have their own commands.

The Navy last month created a command with responsibility for all Navy IT networks, information operations and space requirements when Navy Secretary Gordon England authorized the creation of the Naval Network Warfare Command (Netwarcom).

The command is scheduled to officially begin operations by June, and Navy spokeswoman Lt. Brauna Carl said that the creation of the command is part of a growing realization of how critical the network is to the Navy's mission and how essential it is to the sailor's ability to fight.

The Navy has commanders for various platforms, such as ships and submarines. This puts networks on a similar footing, Carl said.

She said the Navy Marine Corps Intranet — as well as other commands — would fall under Netwarcom as the sites become operational.

The command's leadership has not yet been named.

Weakest Links?

Meanwhile, back at NMCI: Its first tests have gone well, and the initial security tests have not yet found any "show stoppers," a phrase that is now in vogue among those close to NMCI.

Security is a critical part of the overall NMCI testing process and will be part of the criteria for the go/no-go decision — which could come as early as next month — on the $6.9 billion initiative.

Security is an element of the contractor tests and evaluations process, but there are also separate tests of the network's security readiness, conducted by Navy and DOD experts.

Bart Abbott, NMCI program manager for Raytheon Systems Co. — an EDS subcontractor for NMCI security — said that the tests were going well.

But officials note that security testing is ongoing and that several service-level agreements are tailored for security. If Pentagon CIO John Stenbit signs off on NMCI's first milestone, it would enable the Navy to order 100,000 more seats. NMCI is envisioned to include more than 400,000 seats across the Navy's shore-based facilities.

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