Funding sought for GovNet study

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The White House has created its list of possible solutions to provide a secure intranet for critical government systems and is working with Congress to get the $5 million necessary to fully explore those options, Richard Clarke, President Bush's cyberspace security adviser, said April 17.

White House officials believe that some government applications need an extra level of security, but the GovNet secure intranet idea cannot go forward until the General Services Administration receives funding for a feasibility study requested in the fiscal 2003 budget, Clarke said.

GSA briefed Clarke last month about the Federal Technology Service's review of more than 160 industry responses to an October 2001 request for information on the creation of GovNet.

"GovNet is a question that may lead to programs," he said.

The $5 million would be used to study specific architecture options and the cost of each option, Clarke said.

The options include:

* Taking steps, without creating a separate intranet, to improve existing networks.

* Tying some of the civilian agencies' systems to the existing Defense Department and intelligence community intranets.

* Having agencies create their own separate intranets.

* Developing a governmentwide backup separate intranet.

* Creating a new governmentwide offering within the FTS series of contracts for agencies to use.

GovNet is technically feasible because secure, separate intranets already exist in the government, including the Defense Department's Secret Internet Protocol Router Network and the intelligence community's intranet.

And a virtual private network, which many GovNet critics suggested instead of a separate, air-gapped network, is exactly that — virtual — and will not protect against all Internet attacks, Clarke said.

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