Northrop wins network deal

The Homeland Security Department has awarded Northrop Grumman Corp. a $350 million contract to design, implement and operate a secure communications network for classified information.

Department officials said the Homeland Secure Data Network (HSDN) would eliminate its reliance on external networks while expanding its capability to interact with other classified ones. Eventually, the goal is to have HSDN become a private, certified and accredited network. It will also be scalable to accommodate high demand for classified information among academia, government and the private sector.

"HSDN lays the foundation to consolidate five legacy wide-area networks down to one network for both classified and unclassified information, leading to one infrastructure, the first phase of which will be completed by the end of this year," DHS Secretary Tom Ridge said in a press release.

Steve Cooper, the department's chief information officer, has previously said that DHS had set an aggressive goal to move from multiple information technology networks to one by December.

Wood Parker, president of Northrop Grumman IT's federal enterprise solutions, said his company would have a formal launch with DHS officials within days.

"I don't think it's possible to have a complete [HSDN] by the end of this year," he said. But he added that some agencies would be operating on the network to some degree.

"Remember the Department of Homeland Security is this collection of 22 [agencies], it's got a dozen or more communications systems and networks and procedures and processes," he added. "So the challenge here is to take this disparate situation of different communication systems and networks and design and implement a single secure data network of the department."

Parker said DHS' real challenge is interoperability, so HSDN "is key to the success of the department to get this thing right."

The award was made on the General Services Administration's Millennia contract.

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