GAO: Agencies lag in IPv6 transition

Several federal agencies have failed to complete important steps to transition to IPv6, even though an Office of Management and Budget mandate deadline is less than two years away. Without completing those steps, agencies’ transitions may fail, the Government Accountability Office said today.

As of April, 10 of the 24 major federal agencies lag in becoming IPv6-ready by not developing related transition policies and enforcement mechanisms. The deadline for establishing those policies was February. Only 13 agencies have developed a plan to test for IPv6 compatibility and interoperability with their current systems, GAO found.

“By missing deadlines for completing key activities, agencies risk jeopardizing their ability to successfully transition their infrastructures to IPv6 by the June 2008 target specified by OMB,” GAO said.

Nevertheless, almost all the agencies have taken some initial steps, such as assigning an official to lead and coordinate the transition, the report states.

GAO recommended that OMB work with the two groups heading the IPv6 transition — the CIO Council’s Architecture and Infrastructure Committee and the IPv6 Working Group — to address the challenges agencies face, such as information security issues, as they manage data in vulnerable environments. Agencies must find ways to incorporate IPv6 features into applications’ business cases to find better ways to meet their missions. For a time, agencies may have to run dual-stack IPv4 and IPv6 networks. Another challenge will be working with agencies at different phases of transition, which may hinder interfacing projects and initiatives.

OMB officials told GAO they generally agreed with the report’s findings. They said the working group’s subcommittees were addressing the challenges and hunting for solutions, according to the GAO report.

OMB mandated that agencies have an IPv6-capable network backbone by June 2008.

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