GAO counts 34 networks for homeland security

"Major Federal Networks that Support Homeland Security Functions"

Government Accountability Office officials have identified 34 major networks that support homeland security functions, including 32 that are operational and two that are being developed.

In a report to several congressional lawmakers, GAO officials said they obtained information from nine agencies about the 34 networks and more than 100 applications. Of the networks, 21 are single-agency setups used only for internal communications, six share information with state and local governments and four share information with the private sector.

The two networks in development include the Homeland Security Department's Homeland Secure Data Network, which will eventually share classified information with authorized officials in academia, government and the private sector, and the Justice Department's Justice United Telecommunications Network, which will replace the department's existing network and transmit information among its various agencies.

Additionally, several agencies identified the Internet as a major network for supporting homeland security applications.

"Cost data were not available for all networks, but of the networks for which data were available, estimates totaled about $1 billion per year for fiscal years 2003 and 2004," wrote David Powner, GAO's director of information technology management issues.

The report also provided some examples of the more than 100 applications that use the existing networks, such as DHS' U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology system, an entry/exit program that collects, maintains and shares data on foreign nationals. The Commerce, Justice, State and Transportation departments also use the network.

The report also listed the Defense Department's Modernized Intelligence Data Base, which "supports antiterrorist activities through near real-time, synchronized dissemination of military intelligence using its" Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System network.

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