DISA systems up to the Katrina test

The communications systems that the Defense Information Systems Agency provided to support Hurricane Katrina relief operations performed well. But the United States still needs a network that government and public safety workers can use to communicate when responding to a national emergency, said John Garing, DISA’s chief information officer and director for strategic planning.

Garing discussed the agency’s information technology budget and initiatives during a breakfast briefing yesterday held by Federal Sources Inc.

He said DISA’s communications systems worked well in support of Katrina efforts. But he said the network “is not yet self-healing,” which is what DISA hopes to have someday. A self-healing network knows when it is not operating properly and fixes the problem without any help.

DISA sent Defense Satellite Communications System gear earlier this month to Camp Shelby, Miss., the Defense Department's headquarters for post-hurricane operations. The satellite equipment facilitated videoconferencing, the Defense Switched Network voice system, and nonclassified and classified Internet access.

Garing said Katrina, last year’s tsunami and the 2001 terrorist attacks show that the United States still has not developed a common communications medium for first responders to communicate with one another during emergencies. He said this is “a problem that has to be fixed sooner or later.”

Garing is not the first military official to highlight the problem. Linton Wells, acting DOD CIO, said earlier this year that the department needs a system that allows warfighters to more easily communicate with foreign allies and humanitarian organizations outside the military’s classified and unclassified networks. He added that the system should be operational within hours, rather than days and weeks, of reaching a destination.

Featured

  • Telecommunications
    Stock photo ID: 658810513 By asharkyu

    GSA extends EIS deadline to 2023

    Agencies are getting up to three more years on existing telecom contracts before having to shift to the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions vehicle.

  • Workforce
    Shutterstock image ID: 569172169 By Zenzen

    OMB looks to retrain feds to fill cyber needs

    The federal government is taking steps to fill high-demand, skills-gap positions in tech by retraining employees already working within agencies without a cyber or IT background.

  • Acquisition
    GSA Headquarters (Photo by Rena Schild/Shutterstock)

    GSA to consolidate multiple award schedules

    The General Services Administration plans to consolidate dozens of its buying schedules across product areas including IT and services to reduce duplication.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.