Justice to award telecom deals

ORLANDO, Fla. - Justice Department officials expect to award a contract in two to three weeks to a primary vendor for a unified telecommunications network, followed a couple weeks later with an award to a secondary contractor.

The two-vendor approach is meant to ensure that the Justice Unified Telecommunications Network (JUTNet), a data, voice and image network, has strong backup, Justice Department chief information officer Vance Hitch said today.

Plans for JUTNet began last summer when officials examined how to replace the existing network infrastructure, the Justice Consolidation Network. Hitch described JCN as nothing more than a buying vehicle for the components within the department to purchase telecommunication network services. Yet only half of the department's network dollars was going through JCN, and the department used seven other contract vehicles, he said. The department had network redundancies and was not taking advantage of the technology with JCN.

The department needed "a network that would not only be unified but also have built into it the security we would need," Hitch said, speaking today on a panel at the Information Processing Interagency Conference sponsored by the Government Information Technology Executive Council. "I wanted to make sure we would have something that would stand the test of time."

Hitch said JUTNet is a managed services contract, allowing the department to take advantage of the industry's capabilities and target the network to a service-level agreement.

"I think there are real savings here to be made for the department," Hitch said. "This is a program that should pay for itself."

Hitch and fellow panel member Defense Information Systems Agency Director Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege agreed the network is the foundation for an entire enterprise.

"It is the core for everything we do in the military for effectiveness of operations, speed of operations and efficiency of operations," Raduege said.

Raduege said the Defense Department is seeing a revolution in network operations, and with DOD utilizing the network as a weapons system, officials need clear lines of command and control. With that comes the need to train the people managing the network, resulting in the emergence of network operators.

"This is new terminology for the military, but it's starting to evolve," he said.

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